William Shakespeare, a world-renowned playwright, poet, and actor, has been known for centuries all around the world for his great variety of brilliant, poetic, and creative plays written during the Elizabethan Era. Shakespeareâ€™s plays have the reputation of being among the greatest in the English language and Western literature, traditionally divided into the genres of tragedy, history, and comedy, and comprising of various imaginative settings, plots, characters, and conflicts. They have been translated into every major living language, in addition to being continually performed all around the world.
Many of Shakespeareâ€™s plays give insight on human nature, astonishingly able to characterize every emotion, strength, and weakness possessed by human beings during the Elizabethan Era and even today. The most famous and critically acclaimed of Shakespeare's plays has to be Romeo and Juliet, a romantic tragedy concerning the fate of two young "star-crossed lovers" (Prologue, l. 6). The play focuses on romantic love, specifically the intense passion that springs up at first sight between Romeo and Juliet and the deaths of the two characters because of their eternal love for each other. While there could be various reasons for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, it is obvious that both the two households and significantly Old Capulet play the greatest roles in the tragedy due to their ancient family feud and Capuletâ€™s overwhelming authority over his daughter, Juliet. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates a world of violence and generational conflict in which two young lovers fall in love and die because of that love. The story is rather extraordinary in that the normal problems faced by young lovers are here so very large.
It is not simply that the families of Romeo and Juliet disapprove of the loversâ€™ affection for each other; rather, the Montagues and the Capulets are on opposite sides in a blood feud and are trying to kill each other on the streets of Verona. Every time a member of one of the two families dies in a fight, his relatives demand the blood of his killer. Because of the feud, if Romeo is discovered with Juliet by her family, he will be killed, as indicated during the balcony scene where Juliet says â€œIf they do see thee, they will murder theeâ€ (Act II, ii, l.
75). We are never told what the families are fighting about or fighting for; in this sense the feud is both causeless and goal-less. The long-standing hatred between the two families erupts into new violence and the two unlucky children of these enemy families become lovers and die due to their parentsâ€™ anger. The feud of the two families is illustrated in the Chorusâ€™ first words:Two households, both alike in dignity / (In fair Verona, where we lay our scene), / From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, / Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. / From forth the fatal loins of these two foes / A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life; / Whose misadventured piteous overthrows / Doth their death bury their parentâ€™s strife. / The fearful passage of their death-marked love / And the continuance of their parentâ€™s rage, / Which their childrenâ€™s end, naught could remove â€¦ (Prologue, l. 1-11).
The hostility between their families, coupled with the emphasis placed on loyalty and honor to kin, combine to create an intense conflict for Romeo and Juliet, who must rebel against their families. If this feud had not existed in the first place, there would be no cause for Romeo and Juliet to hide their love for each other from their families. They wouldnâ€™t have needed to have a secret wedding, Romeo wouldnâ€™t have killed Tybalt and gotten exiled, Capulet wouldnâ€™t have forced Juliet to marry Paris, and all the conflicts and plot advancements in the play wouldnâ€™t have existed. Most importantly, if the feud had not existed in the first place, Romeo and Juliet wouldnâ€™t have died. Romeo and Julietâ€™s deaths can be seen as the ultimate privacy where they could love each other and be together in the afterlife, without worrying about the thoughts and objections of their families. All the other conflicts and problems faced by the couple in the play are deeply rooted and weaved into the feud itself and therefore, wouldnâ€™t have occurred if the feud had not existed.Furthermore, in the Elizabethan Era, traditional culture distinguished sharply between the nature of identity for men and women.
A womanâ€™s identity was conceived almost exclusively in relation to male authority and martial status. A woman was a daughter, wife, or widow expected to be chaste, silent, and above all, obedient. The patriarchal power structure inherent in Renaissance families, in which the father controls the action of all other family members, particularly women, places Juliet in an extremely vulnerable position. Her heart,.