Romeo and Juliet: The Power of Love to Transform

In Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo’s character can be divided into two parts. At the outset he is plagued with the unrequited love of Rosaline, and then after meeting his new love, he enjoys a reciprocated relationship with Juliet.

Romeo seems infatuated with Rosaline and stubbornly dotes on her, which leads me to reason that she is his first experience with falling in love. He complains in a kind of his own sexual frustration that, “In strong proof of chastity well-armed/From love’s weak childish bow she lives unharmed.” His advances on her just don’t seem to be quite cutting it.

He then goes on to say how even though him and Rosaline aren’t seeing each other anymore, and therefore not within eyes’ reach, she still captures his desires, “Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still/Should without eyes see pathways to his will!” Romeo is completely consumed by his first go at love and not in a good way.

His close friends Mercutio and Benvolio chide him for being so stubborn, yet he still asserts to Benvolio, “Thou canst not teach me to forget.” Benvolio tries to convince Romeo to go to a house party and gives some useful advice on Rosaline: “She shall scant show well that now seems best.” Romeo relents and ends up going.

Both Rosaline and Juliet are invited to this party, yet once he lays eyes on Juliet, Rosaline disappears in his thoughts like yesterday’s news. He courts Juliet, and when she obliges him, he makes up his mind to have her.

He then learns they are of two warring families; the Montague’s and the Capulet’s. Although that causes him unrest, it by no means dissuades him from his pursuit of Juliet. He knows exactly what he wants.

Romeo goes from a man of musing and melancholy to a man of action. He desires a life with Juliet coupled with her hand in marriage, and he is willing to jump through hoops to get it. He is ecstatic, determined, and smitten, and luckily so is she.

No longer is he the droopy, complaining boy we once knew. Even considering his inherent conflict between their families, he seems to be the happiest man in the universe. He acknowledges his fear yet doesn’t let it hinder his new-found joy. Romeo, through love, is transformed into a happy man.


A lesson from Hamlet

Ermete Zacconi - Hamlet.JPG

After reading the To Be Or Not To Be Speech many times, I have concluded that thesis of the soliloquoy is, conscience doth make cowards of us all. Although I firmly oppose suicide, this observation made by the melancholy Dane can be interpreted as an explanation to why we fail to take action. When an opportunity arrives, we often mull it over in a dizzying perpetual motion, crumbling our resolve and none the wiser.

Claudius proclaims, that we would dowe should do when wouldfor this ‘would’ changes… We all remember when Hamlet vows to the Ghost, “thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain; unmix’d with baser matter.”

What was the Ghost’s command? Revenge. We know Hamlet isn’t exclusively focused on the Ghost’s command, for he grows grossly skeptical and dillydallies till it’s much too late, yet this isn’t just a Hamlet problem; it’s a human problem.

When telling Horatio to observe how Claudius reacts to the Mousetrap, the play arranged to catch the conscience of the King, Hamlet claimed to have doubts about the Ghost:

if his occulted guilt do not itself unkennel in one speech, it is a damned ghost that we have seen.”

Hamlet feared that if he killed a blameless King, his own demise was sealed; yet to me fear falls into the index of baser matter; a category the young prince had vehemently denounced from the outset.

We can deduce rather that Hamlet suffered from vivid fantasies of the undiscover’d country from whose bourn no traveller returns which indeed {puzzled his will} and dissuaded him from action.

Hamlet obsessed over the mystery of death, and we can learn from Hamlet that venturing into any unfamiliar territory can leave us wondering what to do with ourselves. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, and the very essence of life is this uncertainty. Therefore we must:

Reject suffering; reject taking arms:

LIVE; sans FEAR.

Macbeth’s Expectations

I sometimes wonder if Macbeth actually expects his actions to yield fruitful consequences. I also ponder on the question whether Macbeth wants to become King more than he cares about reigning king.

After considering the play, I found it to be true that he changes his mind. Macbeth cares about “trammeling up the consequence” but he also promulgates “to be thus (King) is nothing,” yet he says this only after he perceives things going awry.

At the outset, he chiefly cares about being crowned King and explores his wandering cogitations thereunto; instances where he sheds light on the fact that, notwithstanding, he doesn’t have much confidence in his future and ruminates ominously:

We still have judgement here.”

“That we but teach bloody instructions which being taught, return to plague the inventor.”

“Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on the other.”

He has too much desire for the crown to be allayed, recognizing that his ambition his risen far too high; [vaulting] and that such an instance yields precarious consequences.

After he becomes King, his situation coalesces into a hellish nightmare.

It’s now not good enough to merely become King; naturally, he wants to remain King yet at any cost; however bloody or evil.

As Macbeth leaps on the mare of Kingship, he clings frantically to the horse’s mane, yet ultimately, gallops far too recklessly to stay on for the ride.

Lady Macbeth’s Poison

In Shakespeare’s Tragedy Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is the strongest force of evil. Although Macbeth carries out the regicide and subsequent bloodshed, we are reminded of his reluctance when he asserts, “If chance will have me King, why chance may crown me without my stir.”

Macbeth possessed grandiose delusions yet harbored little organic intent of committing acts of Treason to achieve it.

It was Lady Macbeth that coalesced Macbeth’s imagination into a harrowing and damning reality.

Macbeth would have proved most royal [just like Hamlet would have] had Certain Things Gone Differently, [but that’s a debate of Fate Vs. Self-Will].

Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth to the hilt. She ridicules his lack of masculinity [after coming back bravely from battle with heaps of honors: go figure].

Lady Macbeth makes the utterly shocking mind-boggling comment how she would dash the brains out of her own child before she would act as emasculated as she deemed Macbeth to be in showing hesitation with the murder of King Duncan: {I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this}.

Henceforth, we get a sense that this woman harbors a malevolent and dangerously determined sense of ambition all her own. Lady Macbeth corrupts “The noblest [{not} Roman] of them all.”

Think back to the outset; when the sergeant lauds Macbeth’s bravery in battle: “Brave Macbeth, well he deserves that name.” Macbeth was doing great; everything was peachy, but two major things went awry:

One; meeting the, “weird sisters.”

Two; writing his infamous & prophetic letter to Lady Macbeth which consequently fed her gormandized thirst for the crown.

The “weird sisters” were certainly a legitimate force of evil, but Macbeth had the sense to put regicide into perspective; even after his mind roams to regal aspirations he concedes, “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent.”

He even sternly commands Lady Macbeth that he has decided not to go through with the bloody deed. e.g. We will proceed no further in this business.

He wants to enjoy his new title that he rightfully earned, basking in his new honors; but Lady Macbeth is resolute in her wickedness to pollute his mind with her plethoras of perniciousness.

Macbeth knows no way to defend against Lady Macbeth’s derision and mockery. She knows how Macbeth’s mind operates “to the ‘T’” and she knows exactly which buttons to push; he is utterly helpless against her stinging upbraidings and falls victim to her cunningly persuasive rhetoric {who dares receive it other as we shall make our griefs and clamour roar upon his death}.

Lady Macbeth knows her power over him full well and shakes his resolve like the consummate temptress she is {just as Eve tempted Adam and caused the fall of man}.

She is the Serpent hidden under Macbeth’s very nose, and once bitten; there is no antidote.


“We had rather be the oppressor than the oppressed.”—William Hazlitt

A pot of boiling water will only boil for so long until it spills over. People only withstand being abused for so long until they take a stand. “There’s no more to be said but he [Coriolanus] is banish’d, as enemy to the people and his country. It shall be so.”

Coriolanus was a brilliant warrior and defended his country brilliantly, yet he had no respect for the common people. He had much pride in himself and to an extent rightly so; but Coriolanus took it too far.

He saw the people as weak fickle minds and not as citizens of the country he loved and fought for; Rome. He didn’t understand or appreciate the value of offering even the slightest sense of cordiality; this is what engendered his strife. He failed to realize that:

Pride is an ugly canker that eats up all the rosy joys of victory.

Brutus and Sicinius, two tribunes who were fed up with Coriolanus’ pride, incite Coriolanus into a tirade which ultimately results in his banishment; a cautionary tale in regards to the importance of the virtue temperance.

In reflective solitude, Coriolanus offers the poignant remark, “I shall be loved when I am lacked.” A sentiment that we all hope rings true when we make our final departure.

Although Coriolanus isn’t humble in any sense of the word, I do admire that Coriolanus is genuine with us. He doesn’t disguise how he truly feels; he puts his philosophy out there for each to discern, and that takes courage.

He was not a tyrant trying to make others his pawns; he fought bravely on the front lines and defended his country successfully at Corioli; earning the magnanimous title of Coriolanus. He may have talked the talk but he had the battle scars and accolades to back it up, yet he was cocky and fell victim to pride.

The tribunes knew Coriolanus’ and the peoples’ disposition to the letter; exactly which buttons to push, and they manipulate the way to their objective with a masterly prowess all their own.

It is the tribunes’ politics of manipulating the already frustrated commonalty for their own partisan agenda that makes Coriolanus’ world so ripe for tragedy.

Rome would have been in a world of hurt if a mediocre soldier, that, [contrarily to Coriolanus], flattered the people, replaced our tragic hero.

Part of the tragedy of this play lies in that even after Coriolanus is banished and afterwards defects to the Volsces, he ultimately presents a strong case for redemption by signing an official Truce, preventing the ruin & destruction of his native homeland, saving the very people that turned their back on him.

Coriolanus is murdered as Aufidius deemed this [Truce] humiliating to his army and all that he stood for.

Why is Coriolanus our tragic hero?

The people of Rome turned their back on Coriolanus, but he, in the end, refused to turn his back on them.

Romeo and Juliet

Norman Holland writes in his classic The Shakespearean Imagination:

“When this tragedy puts love and fighting side by side, it touches the oldest and deepest part of our minds.”

Both love and violence go back to the very start of humanity. In Romeo and Juliet the lovers have to struggle for their love because of the bitter enmity of the households of the Montagues and the Capulets. If their was no struggle, there would be no play.

To draw an interesting parallel, in the Tempest, when Miranda and Ferdinand are courting each other, Prospero reveals an interesting strategy:

They are both in either’s powers; but this swift business I must uneasy make, lest too light winning make the prize light.”

  • Shakespeare uses this profound mentality from the Tempest in Romeo and Juliet.
  • No struggle; no reward.
  • The profoundness of Romeo and Juliet’s love resides in the hurdles they go through that demonstrate the authenticity of their love.
  • Romeo and Juliet never give up on each other, even through to their deaths.
  • Shakespeare was trying to tell us that when love is present, nothing can stand in its way.

Romeo has an uneasy feeling before he meets Juliet. And rightly so; he is entering into the house of the Capulets and was not invited to begin with. But how did he know something was amiss?

He ponders:

“My mind misgives, some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, shall bitterly begin his fearful date with this night’s revels.”

None of us can control our fates. Our destinies‘ are directed by something much bigger than ourselves.

Romeos trespassing  on this momentous festivity of the Capulets, gives him trepidation as to what’s to come; Romeo knows that he himself shouldn’t be there and he hates violence.

He makes this character trait very clear to his best friend and close confidante Benvolio early in the play:

Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all. Here’s much to with love but more with hate. Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate, O anything of nothing first create.

Juliet echoes what Romeo touches on (his ominous sense of doubt); I repeat it for convenience:

“My mind misgives, some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, shall bitterly begin his fearful date with this night’s revels.”

And here is Juliet’s inauspicious premonition which, in hindsight, appears almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy:

Although I joy in thee,

I have no joy of this contract tonight.

It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;

Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be

Ere one can say ‘It lightens.’

Despite their Love, this initial mutual sense of semi-superstitious lingering mistrust greatly contributes to their tragic ends.

After Romeo and Juliet consummate their nuptials, doubt seemingly departing, the currency of love has made a hefty deposit, and we sense the story ill-fated.

There are always things in life that are beyond our control; contrarily, there are always things in life which are in our control. We can always choose to show love; and that love we choose to show to others can multiply exponentially and make a monumental difference in just one or multitudinous lives; the funny thing is you never know exactly which quantitative category you’re affecting; the butterfly effect is always at play.

Be bold; be resolute; go after your hearts desires.

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

*Measure for Measure

In loving memory of Mr. Strasser, my 8th grade math teacher:

Say what you mean, mean what you say.”

Macbeth’s Impatience and The Witches Goading

Macbeth is a man who wants something he cannot properly have.

If he was ever to become King legitimately, (had he refrained from his crime), maybe his “grapes would have ripened.” But as it stood in this story, they turned out to be as sour as his reign.

If grapes can stand as a metaphor for attaining the crown, the mischievous witches were dangling sour grapes in front of a starving foxe’s face to mislead him into thinking there was a satisfying snack in store; unfortunately the fox couldn’t distinguish between ripe and unripe ones; still jumping for them, he ate them and was shown that they were nasty, sour & unsatisfying.

As he was distracted trying to swallow these gross grapes which struggled to go down his throat, he fell into a trap and eventually starved.

Figuratively speaking, this is what happened to Macbeth; what Macbeth saw looked like tasty fruit; it just didn’t turn out to be. He might have become a great king and certainly had hope of that, but it wasn’t his time yet. Macbeth embraced enthusiastically his future as King but ultimately failed to acknowledge the fact that he was abundantly lost in delusion and in a state of utter “unripeness.”

After falling for the witches deceitful promises, Macbeth embraces the idea of attaining something he cannot properly have. He was tricked into procuring his own downfall through the stimulation of ambition for something out of his reach; The Weird Sisters knew his credulity for matters superstitious as a “foregone conclusion,” & from this he wasn’t level-headed enough to eschew it.

Naive and subsequently evil; just plain evil.

Thoughts Vs. Action in Hamlet’s Character

The idea that thought prompts action is pretty simplistic and universal, but it hinges on the assumption that your thoughts are aligned with your psyche.

When thoughts and inclinations collide we oft take the most comfortable route neglecting the consideration of consequences and make less than optimal decisions.

In order to execute perfect [biblical] revenge, there has to be the paradigm of An Eye For An Eye; A Tooth For A Tooth in operative motion.

Hamlets thoughts concerning retaliation require an element of self-righteous equivocation in order to coalesce into Action.

When a simple & plain man thinks, he uses his reason and understands & acknowledges the consequences of his behavior:

Hamlet is the opposite; he doesn’t give weight to consequences. He lusts for revenge in his mind but little in action.

When he stabs through the arras, he, {apparently}, does so without knowing whom was behind it; perhaps to diminish the chances of a [possible] Treason charge, {if it were King Claudius hiding behind that curtain}; or perhaps to prevent an escape by [the] surmised spy & eavesdropper.

Whatever the case may be, what Hamlet fails to realize:

even if it turned out to be a man other than The King behind the arras, that man’s son would want to avenge that murder just as much as he wants to avenge his fathers.

This rashness of Hamlet’s was his downfall.

Hamlet had the intention of killing The King, yet failed to understand the inherent complexities of stabbing through a concealed barrier; consequently, Laertes gets his revenge.

As Horatio says when all is said and done:

Purposes Mistook Fallen On The Inventors’ Heads.

Macbeth And Time

The word ‘time’ is used frequently in The Tragedy of Macbeth, and everything about timing seems to disfavor our title character.

He suspects that time is not on his side, “time thou anticipat’st my dread exploits.” Macbeth’s perspective is initially scewed after becoming Thane of Cawdor when told first-hand The Weïrd SistersProphecy.

Macbeth’s expectations become unrealistically ingrained because of his precarious timing.

The hint of accession to The Thane of Cawdor materializing immediately after The Witches‘ foreboding, made him accustomed to instant gratification in matters most dangerous; gaining the throne. The Insidious Sisters knew if they could gain his trust, they could cause him to act without discretion.

Macbeth ends up putting his faith in The Witches, sealing his own fate.

He shows how easily we can jump wrongly to a big conclusion when just a modicum of manipulation is excercised; especially when we are at our most vulnerable.

Macbeth’s Mistake

“We have scorched the snake, not killed it: she’ll close, and be herself; whilst our poor malice remains in danger of her former tooth.”

These words uttered by Macbeth intimate that although King Duncan is “in his grave” his dilemma has not been solved out but aggrandized by being hampered yet not extinguished.

Remember that both Duncan’s sons, Malcolm & Donalbain, remain alive, and neither Macbeth nor Lady Macbeth ever considered to dispose of them with the King.

In Robert Greene’s book, The 48 Laws of Power, he advises to, “crush your enemy totally.” He elaborates that, “a viper crushed beneath your foot but left alive, will rear up and bite you with a double dose of venom. An enemy that is left around is like a half-dead viper that you nurse back to health. Time makes the venom grow stronger.”

Time is a central problem in Macbeth’s mind.

He confesses, “Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits.” If time would just stop, Macbeth could be King perpetual and the scorpions in his mind exchanged for a “vessel of…peace.” He even plays with a parallel of this idea when he posits:

Better be with the dead, whom we to gain our peace, have sent to peace, than on the torture of the mind to lie in restless ecstasy.”

Yet, Macbeth can no more stop time than he could dissuade Lady Macbeth from her relentlessly evil persuasions which compromised all that he stood for.

The bloodshed consequently continues, and unfortunately  for Macbeth, Malcolm and his loyal subjects breed the coalescence of King Duncan’s spirit:

Shakespeare promulgates the immortality of the soul:


In the spirit of men, there is no blood.”