Theme Of Hatred In Romeo And Juliet by Shakespare


Iyanla Vanzant once said, “Family is supposed to be our safe haven. Very often, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.” There is not just one person that is to blame for the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet in William Shakespeare’s play. The hatred of the families forces the young lovers and characters to take such drastic measures and leads to the demise of the young lovers. It would be easy to make accusations and start blaming one person, however, we need to understand the circumstances in which this ill-fated tale starts. The prologue tells us that the Capulet and Montague families have a long standing hatred for one another. This feud between the families acts as a pressure cooker throughout the play and underpins the majority of the characters actions and events which take place. Furthermore, if it was not for the feud, Romeo and Juliet would not have to get secretly married, Friar Lawrence would not have acted as he did, and it incites Tybalt’s rage.

The feuding families create a malignant context for the lovers. When Juliet first meets Romeo she knows that their relationship is cursed because it is her fate to fall in love with a member of the enemy household. As they both recognize during the party scene, the family feud makes it impossible for Romeo and Juliet to openly declare their love. “My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me that i must love a loathed enemy.” (Shakespeare 1, 5, 136-138). The feud impeded their love for each other, as they choose death over being forced apart. Without the rivalry, they would have no barrier to being together.  Romeo and Juliet are both determined to find a way to be together and get married despite their enemy status. Furthermore, Friar Lawrence is asked to marry them in secret. 

The Friar envisions the union of Romeo and Juliet as bringing peace to the two warring families and agrees to marry them. He only has good intentions. “But come, young waverer, come, go with me, In one respect I’ll thy assistant be; For this alliance may so happy prove, To turn your households’ rancour to pure love.” (Shakespeare 2, 3, 89-92). All of his actions are fueled by his wanting of the feud to be over, and furthermore forces him to take such drastic measures. While the Friar hatches a plan hopeful of reconciliation, the banishment of Romeo and brawling of Mercutio and Tybalt act as catalysts to accelerate the chain of events.

The ongoing feud leads to Mercutio and Tybalt fighting, moreover leading to Romeo’s exile. Tybalt says he hates “peace” and he hates “hell, all montagues, and thee.” (Shakespeare 1, 1, 61). Although Romeo would love for the feud to end, the reality is that Tybalt is spoiling for a fight. Tybalt ultimately attacks Mercutio due to the garrulous character insulting Tybalt and the fact that he hates the Montagues. Romeo ends up killing Tybalt following this and is banished for the act. Juliet is then thrown into a state of grief. 

In essence, the hatred of the families forces the young lovers and characters to take such drastic measures. The family feud causes for Romeo and Juliet’s relationship to be a cursed secret, Friar Lawrence’s actions are fueled by this feud, and Tybalt's rage is encouraged by this rivalry. If that hatred did not exist their love would have blossomed and all misery would be avoided.

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