In Romeo and Juliet, does Shakespeare seem to consider a self-destructive tendency inextricably connected with love, or is it a separate issue?
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From the onset of the play, violence is a motif. Certainly, Romeo and Juliet's love is a violent one. Born from the turbulent feud of the Montagues and the Capulets, it ignites into a passion that catapults these lovers into impetuous actions, setting them against their ruler, their families, their friends, their spiritual adviser, and their individual fates.
- In Act II, Scene 3, as they part, Juliet tells Romeo, "Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing...(2.3.186).
- Despite Friar Laurence's caution that
These violent delights have violent ends,
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder
Which as they kiss consume....
Therefore, love moderately, long love doth so,
Too swift arrives, as tardy as too slow. (2.6.
with passionate insistence, Romeo implores the priest to perform the marriage rites for him and Juliet.
- Afterwards, because he has married Juliet, Romeo tries to intervene in the argument between Tybalt and Mercutio with tragic and violent results as he causes Mercutio's death. Incensed that Tybalt has slain Mercutio, Romeo impulsively and with brutal anger kills Tybalt.
- Following the banishment of Romeo for his murderous act, Juliet finds herself in a dilemma because her parents insist that she marry Paris in the hopes that the marriage will rouse her from her depression over her cousin's death. Feeling that she is in an impossible situation, Juliet considers suicide, clearly a violent act.
- This situation, then, leads to Juliet's feigned death and burial in the Capulet catacombs. There, tragically, the tsunami of emotions begun by Romeo's impetuous killing of Paris in the tomb causes the deadly waves of his suicide, followed by Juliet self-inflicted violence.
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