The Contrast of Love and Violence in Romeo and Juliet

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Throughout the play, Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, love, and violence have come in contact with each other multiple times. Through the few scenes where these two meet, Shakespeare shows his audience, or readers, that the differences may not be so far apart. The contrast introduces the audience to the theory that love can be violent, and in the midst of violence, there can be love.

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The juxtaposition of the two elements helps move along the thematic tension of the two houses, the Capulets and the Montagues. The first time that Romeo and Juliet meet, the contradiction begins. It sets the stage for the rest of the comparisons and eventually foreshadows the two lover’s end. Shakespeare does a good job of introducing the juxtaposition early on.

In act, I, scene v, Romeo says something flattering about Juliet, and Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, overhears him and know right away that he is a Montague. Tybalt then wants to kill him on sight and asks for his sword. But love conquers hate, and Lord Capulet says that Romeo is a dignified man known around Verona for his virtue and that he would not start a fight so it would be disgraceful if Tybalt started a fight with him. The first time that Romeo sees Juliet, he is blown away by her beauty and completely forgets about Rosaline. He says, “Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear, beauty to rich for use, for earth too dear. So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows as yonder lady o’er her fellows shows…. Did my heart love till now? Foreswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” (I, v, 42-50) This is the love half of the dynamic duo.

The hate comes from Tybalt when he says, “This, by his voice, should be a Montague. Fetch me my rapier, boy. What, dares the slave come hither, covered with an antic face, to fleer and scorn at our solemnity? Now, by the stock and honor of my kin, to strike him dead I hold it not a sin.” (I, v, 51-57) From these two quotes, the audience is exposed to the notion of love vs. violence, or love vs. hate. In Shakespeare’s contrast, love does not always have to be for one’s romantic partner. It can be for a friend or relative, too. In act III, scene i, the audience sees the love for a friend guide Romeo to partake in violent actions. Romeo and Juliet have just been married, and Romeo is with Benvolio and Mercutio when they run into Tybalt, Petruchio, and other Capulets. Mercutio and Tybalt end up in a sword fight,

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