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How can both love and violence be said to be victorious in Romeo and Juliet?

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cindybotes | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 11, 2010 at 7:02 PM via web

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How can both love and violence be said to be victorious in Romeo and Juliet?

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susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted July 11, 2010 at 9:05 PM (Answer #1)

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A case could be made for either love or violence being the victor in the play.  But I would say that love wins in the end.  Violence is definitely a contender though.  Tybalt is  a hot-tempered young man, prideful, and eager to fight.  His challenge to Romeo results in Mercutio's death.  Romeo submits to violence when he avenges his friend's death.  Lord Capulet submits to violence when he loses his temper with Juliet when she refuses to marry Paris.  Both Romeo and Juliet submit to self-inflicted violence at the end of the play as the only solution to their "star-crossed" love.

Yet, I think love wins in the end.  Romeo and Juliet's love remains strong throughout the end of the play.  Shakespeare presents this love as beautiful and good, despite its turbulent setting.  Through this love, Juliet matures into a thoughtful, independent young woman who remains loyal to her husband, despite her nurse's counseling to do otherwise.

Their deaths, though tragic, are not a total loss.  At the end of the play,  Lord Capulet says to Monague:

O brother Montague, give me thy hand.

This is my daughter's jointure for no more

Can I demand.


Romeo and Juliet's deaths were the price for the "glooming peace" established at the end of the play.  The violence between the two families will now cease.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 11, 2010 at 9:16 PM (Answer #2)

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I guess that I would have a slight problem with the idea of them being "victorious" in the drama.  They are present and even prominent.  A stronger case can be made for love being victorious, then violence.  In the instance of the latter, Romeo has to embrace violence in honor of his friend, Juliet views the dagger and the potion as violence to self, and both of them to a great extent seek to dissolve their family bonds with as much emotional violence as possible.  Love is a force that is also present, if one takes that the feelings that both feel are examples of love.  There is also a certain amount of love felt towards the young people by the Friar and the Nurse.  These emotions are certainly present throughout the play.  To say that they are victorious might be a bit of a stretch.  Violence is not entirely victorious in the play because, frankly, nothing seems to be gained through the acts of violence.  The people who are dead through violence did not die glorious deaths because of violence.  Their deaths are not a confirmation nor negation of violence in the first place.  In terms of love, a stronger case can be made for it to be victorious.  The critical point here is that one has to make sure that love is the experience felt by the young people.  If one makes this case, then love can be said as being victorious to an extent.  The families put aside their hostility, the children are together, and the Friar and Nurse are acknowledged for their loyalties to the kids.  Yet, the fundamental issue here is whether they are in love.  They might be infatuated with one another and they might be immersed in the shallow conception of emotion, intense feelings that might resemble love, but not actually be love.  I think that this is where one might have to stand on this issue, as well.  Short form:  The statement has some clarification required.

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shaketeach | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted July 13, 2010 at 8:26 AM (Answer #3)

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Shakespeare was a master of antithesis.  Since he pits ideas against each other, victory does not seem to be the objective.

One must realize that both Romeo and Juliet prefer eternal damnation (since they lived in a Catholic society and suicide is a mortal sin) than to live in their world of hatred and violence.  These two young people have been taught to hate each other from birth yet nobody seems to know why.  Verona itself is divided into these loyalties.

Is the play then about love or is it about hate which affects all who live in this violent world?  Or both?

Is Shakespeare using Verona as a microcosm of irrational hatred.  He obviously abhors war.  One only has to read the histories to know this.

Who are the victims of this conflict in the play?  Tybalt is a victim of this irrational hatred.  Mercutio is caught up on behalf of his friend.  Paris dies because he loves Juliet.  Romeo commits suicide because he acts before he thinks and Juliet seems to feel that she has no choice but to join her husband.

The sad thing is that none of these young people know why they die.  If the adults know, they don't tell us but finally put their pride aside.

So does love win or violence win or does anybody win?.  Does the society learn from the sacrifices made by the youth in their society or do they fall back into the same old ways of hatred resulting in further violence?

Got to admit Shakespeare gives us a lot to think about.

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indycar | Middle School Teacher | eNoter

Posted July 12, 2010 at 10:58 PM (Answer #4)

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I think that they ARE both victorious. If you examine the end, violence ends familial warring, a medium through which love is realised, and tragedy ended.

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