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Romeo & Juliet

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Romeo & Juliet

In the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, we learn about the tragic love story that took place in Elizabethan times around the 1400’s. At that time, family honour and power was very important, it was so vital that people would risk their lives in order to stand up for their family name. The mood of the play changes from romance and contentment to tragedy and affliction. One could argue that Tybalt was the catalyst for the tragedy. A tragedy is defined as �a dramatic composition, dealing with a serious or sombre theme, typically that of a great person destined through a flaw of fate or society, to downfall and destruction’. In Romeo and Juliet you will encounter a typical tragedy. It is about serious topics like love and death, it’s sad and moving and the main characters die at the end.

Tybalt could be accused for turning the evolving romance into a fatal tragedy. Tybalt’s character starts off as an enraged enemy and ends up as a corpse full of hatred. The feud is clearly shown to the audience through the extreme exchange of severely offending insults. Shakespeare also uses structure, setting, context, language and character to illustrate the feud.

The play is set in Verona, a city in Italy. Verona is presented as a city-state and the prince of Verona rules the city like a King. He makes the laws and everyone should obey them. In the play there are two rich, powerful families- the Montagues and the Capulets. The families are in the middle of a feud that has been going on for centuries. The play doesn’t tell us how the feud started. Even the families don’t know why it started or whose fault it was. Their families with the habit of despising one another have brought up the Montagues and Capulets. Over the years the hatred between them has become more violent and corruptive. Now, they can’t stand each other, and they only need a small excuse to start fighting. At that time all the men carried swords, so if there is a fight, it’s a fight to the death. The characters in Romeo and Juliet have a strong sense of honour. If they get insulted they take it as if their families and friends are also being insulted. At the start of the play, some servants of the Montagues and Capulets meet in the street. They start insulting each other and it turns into a fight. As they start to fight Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin, enters and tells the servants to stop fighting. Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, then comes in and directly pulls out his sword, giving the audience the impression that he is craving for a fight, a fight with anyone. Benvolio, the peacekeeper says to Tybalt “Put up thy sword, or manage it to part these men with me” (Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare, Act 1 Scene 1). Tybalt replies by saying “What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word” (Act 1 Scene 1, lines 62). This shows that Tybalt will pull out his sword and fight, at the first chance he gets. This indicates that he is aggressive and unstable-maybe a little unhinged by his anger. Tybalt thinks any man who doesn’t fight for his honour isn’t a real man, he is a coward. The feud is causing deaths and mayhem in Verona. In Act 1 Scene 1 the prince of Verona says he’s had enough and the next person to start a fight will be executed- “if ever you disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace”. This doesn’t stop Tybalt; he still thinks honour is more important than saving lives.

When Romeo and Juliet fall in love, they know their taking a big risk. It goes against the whole feud and honour of the two families. In Act 1 scene 5 Romeo sneaks into the Capulet’s party. Even though Romeo is not causing any disruption or damage, when Tybalt sees Romeo he immediately calls for his rapier “Fetch me my rapier, boy” (Act I Scene 5, line 54). This proves that he is impulsive and acts without thinking of the consequences. Tybalt doesn’t listen to Lord Capulet when he tries to calm him down, he is furious and wants to fight Romeo. In this the audience can see how Tybalt is interfering with Romeo and Juliet’s love.

Structure is the overall design of the play. The play is divided into acts and scenes. This breaks up the story and shows how time and place has passed. Shakespeare puts the events in order of importance. For example he puts a fight between the Capulets and Montagues right at the beginning in act 1 scene1. This immediately shows the audience how violent the feud is. Shakespeare also builds up drama towards key events. Romeo and Juliet shifts between comedy and tragedy. Before Act 3 scene 1 where Tybalt stabs Mercutio, the play was largely a comedy. This also proves the



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