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. 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 the profound  advice in this above quote from the Tempest
  • No struggle; no reward.
  • The profoundness of Romeo and Juliet’s love resides in the hurdles they go through to show how authentic their love is. Romeo and Juliet never give up on each other, even through their death.
  • 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 wasn’t invited to begin with. But how did he know something was heading seriously 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 fate. Our inevitable destiny is directed by something much stronger than us. By Romeo trespassing  on this momentous festivity of the Capulets, he feels trepidation as to what’s to come; Romeo hates violence and makes this very clear to his friend and  close confidante Benvolio early in the play. Juliet echoes what Romeo picks up on to his sense of doubt; I’ll 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 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 unadvisedly, 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 distrust is what I believe led them to their tragic end.

Romeo and Juliet consummate their nuptials and when doubt seemingly departs the currency of love has made a hefty deposit. But the story is ill-fated.

There are always events that are beyond our control, contrarily there are always things that 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 for sure which category you’re affecting.

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

Measure for Measure–act 1 scene iv 

“Say what you mean, mean what you say.”

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


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