Romeo and Juliet is an epic love story that climaxes in tragedy. The story follows two lovers from opposing families over the course of two days, and it features many twists and turns that always keeps the audience on its toes. In my opinion, Romeo and Juliet is one of William Shakespeare’s greatest plays. It features love, tragedy, comedy, action and a classic story that will never be forgotten.
During this essay I will discuss the passions that are in this play, and how they feature. Are passions dangerous, and do they need to be controlled? Or are passions what make life worth living, and without them the world would be dull and meaningless? I will discuss both these questions, and try to come to a conclusion.Every character experiences some kind of passion during the play. Romeo and Juliet obviously both feel love, but they feel other passions such as anger, sadness and vengefulness. For instance, Romeo feels anger when Tybalt has killed Mercutio. “Alive, in triumph! and Mercutio slain! Away to heaven, respective lenity, and fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!” is what Romeo says when he eyes Tybalt after the killing.This shows how angry Romeo is at Tybalt.
Previously, Romeo was speaking in kindness to Tybalt, telling him he loved the Capulet. Tybalt did not yet know that Romeo and Juliet were now husband and wife, and wished to fight the groom. Romeo declined, and Mercutio stepped forward. Mercutio was killed in combat, and Romeo became angry. In his fury, he killed Tybalt. This is a defining moment in the play because the fight resulted in Romeo being banished from Verona.Yet, as Romeo feels such anger at one point, he feels much loveduring another. “Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night, as a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear” is what Romeo says upon seeing Juliet at the Capulet party.
This not only demonstrates that Romeo thinks Juliet is absolutely beautiful; it also brings some poetry to the play. Throughout the scenes, Shakespeare manages to add many pieces of poetry into the play, which gives the scene that little extra magic. This quote also highlights how passion is necessary at the right moments. If there were no passion during this scene, the scene would be pointless.I think it may be worth noting at this point that since the couple met, they have never held a real conversation. I think it is ironic how the two can tell each other they love one another when they have never talked about their personalities or lives.
Whenever Romeo and Juliet meet, all they ever talk about is how they love each other and want to stay togetherJuliet has a wide range of emotions and passions throughout the play. She also feels happiness, but also feels sadness and deep sorrow. “Is there no pity sitting in the clouds that sees into the bottom of my grief?” is what Juliet speaks when she finds that she must marry Paris, even though she is married to Romeo. Yet she cannot tell her parents she is married, as they can never know she is sharing her life with a Montague. I think she also feels anger towards her family at this point too. She cannot be with her love because of the families’ frivolous feud and she wants it to end. It is worth noting that Shakespeare never reveals why the families quarrel.
I believe he does this because he wants to make the audience feel that the grudge they bear against each other is so old, neither families remember why they fight. I think this shows that angry passions do need to be controlled, as they can have dangerous consequences.Sadness features quite often in this play. Most characters feel sadness at some stage in the play. Once again, it is ironic that possibly the greatest love story ever written features so many negative feelings. Maybe Shakespeare wanted to teach us something about love; love can only lead to pain. While many good things come from love in this play, it all eventually leads to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet dying.
One could blame their deaths on the families fighting, but they would never have died if they had not been in love.The audience always knew that the play would be ending in sadness and tragedy. In the prologue the audience is told “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life”, revealing that both Romeo and Juliet kill themselves. Therefore, throughout the play the audience always has on their minds that the couple will kill themselves before the end of the play. Even when the audience should be happy that Romeo and Juliet are in love, they always know that it will end in death. I think Shakespeare does this to keep the theme of tragedy running in the play, even at the happiest of moments.In contrast to many other characters, Mercutio’s personality rarely changes.
At every appearance during the play, even leading to his death, Mercutio is witty and charming, his language filled with sexual comments. However, during Mercutio’s death scene his words become deadly serious. When Mercutio first appears, he is headed with Romeo, Benvolio, and friends to the Capulet party.
Mercutio debates everything the sad, gloomy Romeo says and lightens up the mood with his wit. His upbeat personality contrasts sharply with Romeo’s melancholy. He counters Romeo’s every complaint with comment that is bound to make the audience smile. It is also ironic how Romeo is the main character and hero of the story yet the focus is always on Mercutio whenever the cheerful character is around.
Mercutio dies in a very memorable way. He and Tybalt are duelling, and Mercutio is doing very well. Yet Romeo foolishly intervenes and Mercutio is slain. It is debatable that if Romeo had never got in the way of the duellists, Mercutio would have probably won the duel.
However, Romeo’s new found love for the Capulet family blinded him and all that was on his mind was stopping the fight, no matter what the cost. This obviously shows that passions do need to be controlled in certain situation, as they can lead to this. However, if the characters passions were controlled this scene would not exist. If they were controlled there would be no anger felt toward each other therefore this encounter would have been avoided.When Romeo tells Mercutio that the wound is not deep, Mercutio replies: “No, ’tis not as deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but ’tis enough, ’twill serve”. This time, Mercutio’s wit is accompanied by a curse on both families.
The wound is only small, but is enough to kill him. He says “A plague o’ both your houses!” many times before he dies. This shows that even when Mercutio has been witty and charming, he is angry with the families because of their frivolous row.
As Mercutio is one of the audience’s most loveable characters, this makes the audience angry with the families for such a ridiculous feud that can lead to such consequences.From Mercutio’s death, the play’s tragedy doesn’t stop. A vital character from the play is killed, and this triggers the tragedy. From this moment on, nothing happens that is celebrated. Many people are angry with Shakespeare for killing off such a cheerful and important character half way through the play. I agree with them.
The friar is a close friend to both Romeo and Juliet. It is the Friar who agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet in secrecy, though he knows their parents would not consent. He also concocts the plan for Juliet to play dead and is supposed to get the word out to Romeo. He fails. I cannot help but notice that everything that the Friar touches goes wrong.I believe that the Friar’s passion is to bring the two feuding families together. This is why he marries the two star crossed lovers as he believes that it will bring the two families closer together.Romeo greets the Friar “Good morrow, father”, and Friar Lawrence responds by calling Romeo “Young son”.
Though these exchanges are appropriate because of the religious context, this interchange has greater importance. It is not just the exchange between the priest and the penitent. The Friar also stands in for Romeo’s own father since there are no scenes between Romeo and his parents.
The Friar is the only person to whom Romeo turns for advice, and he is the last person to whom Juliet turns after all others have forsaken her. In this sense, he is father to them both and responsible for upholding order.The Friar is always there to comfort and help the two lovers, especially Romeo.
One part that stands out is in the Friar’s cell, when Romeo has just been banished. Romeo is having a tantrum, and is incredibly upset that he has been separated from Juliet and fair Verona. The Friar tells Romeo this: “O deadly sin! O rude unthankfulness! Thy fault our law calls death; but the kind Prince, Taking they part, hath rush’d aside the law, and turn’d that black word “death” to “banishment.” This is dear mercy, and thou seest it not.” The Friar is telling Romeo that he should be thankful and lucky to still be alive.
At this point, The Friar tells off Romeo, and demands that he stop crying and acting like a girl. From this scene it is obvious to see why The Friar is seen as a father figure to Romeo, as he is saying everything a father would say to his boy in such a situation.However, even though he is seen as a father figure, many of his ideas go awry. He is the person to suggest that Juliet should fake her death, therefore leading to Romeo’s death. This was obviously a ridiculous idea from the start, one that would never work. I think the Friar has a constant passion, one that is to try and direct Romeo and Juliet. This shows that passions need to be suppressed and controlled because he often leads the couple the wrong way.
Ultimately, it is the Friar that kills Romeo and Juliet. He is the person to suggest the ludicrous ‘fake death’ plan, and this drives Romeo to suicide. Romeo’s death then destroys Juliet.At the end of the play, the Friar’s loyalty is tested. He is in the tomb when Juliet awakes, and she spies Romeo’s corpse. Instead of staying to help, he hears a noise and flees. How can someone seen as a father figure do this? Even though the two lovers regularly turn to him, his advice is usually bad and he proves how disloyal he is at the end of the play.Even though such terrible things can come from passions, I still believe that the world needs them.
I believe that they could never be controlled as they put the excitement into our lives. Without passions, there would be no point in living. Without passions, life would be incredibly dull. We need passion to keep us alive.
I believe Shakespeare felt the same, even though such feelings can lead to such disastrous consequences. As the old saying goes, what is the point in living if you can’t feel alive?