What is the major conflict in Romeo and Juliet?Possible answers are: Juliet's parents are forcing her to marry Paris. The families of Romeo and Juliet have been feuding for years. Romeo loves...

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The central conflict in Romeo and Juliet is different from the central conflict in most of Shakespeare's plays. In this play the conflict is not between Romeo and Juliet or between one of them and some other character. They are two young lovers whose lives are ruined by a conflict that has been going on between their families, the Montagues and the Capulets, for many years. In this respect the play resembles an epic in which the lives of relatively powerless humans are affected by the clash of powerul forces, such as the war between the Greeks and Trojans in Homer's Iliad or the war between the North and South in Gone With  the Wind. Neither Romeo nor Juliet can be called the protagonist or antagonist in Shakespeare's play. The heads of their families are the protagonist and antagonist, and it would seem that the head of the Capulet family (Juliet's) would be considered the protagonist and the other the antagonist, because the Capulet's cause the problem by trying to force their daughter to marry Paris. Tolstoy's masterpiece War and Peace is another example of a literary work in which the protagonist and antagonist, France and Russia, are clashing over greater issues than those affecting the small, individual characters portrayed.


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