What does Romeo and Juliet say about people and life?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Romeo and Juliet says many things about the human condition, which is one of the reasons for its enduring popularity. One major, and rather bleak, message is the difficulty of struggling against fate (this is what Shakespeare means when he describes them as "star-cross'd lovers") and the weight of the world into which we are born. Romeo and Juliet think, or at least hope, that they can transcend their surroundings, as indeed does Friar Lawrence. But we see in the end that they cannot. Some might read the play as a comment on the impetuousness of youth. Romeo and Juliet meet, fall in love, and plan to marry all on the same night, without giving serious thought to the consequences, which are dire, and not just for them. While the play certainly ends tragically, however, some people might see in it a comment on the power of love. Romeo and Juliet die, but they do not have to compromise their love, and ultimately their deaths cause their fathers to recognize the stupidity of the feud that brought them to their untimely ends. If one understands the play as revolving around a conflict between love and hate, then love wins in the end, though at a terrible price.


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