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What is your personal opinion about the Prince's banishment on Romeo?Do you think this...

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nicolee15 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 20, 2010 at 9:45 AM via web

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What is your personal opinion about the Prince's banishment on Romeo?

Do you think this ruling is fair?  Please explain why or why not.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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chughes412 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 20, 2010 at 10:15 AM (Answer #2)

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In Act I Scene I, Prince Escalus states

"If ever you disturb our streets again,

Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace."

Here he is telling both families that if they continue to fight, they will be put to death. When the Prince banishes Romeo, he is not sticking to what he states in Act 1. To decide if it is fair or not, you would need to look at the entire situation. Romeo tried not to fight with Tybalt. Mercutio, who is related to the Prince, decided to fight Tybalt in Romeo's place. Mercutio dies which then leads to Romeo killing Tybalt out of revenge. With this in mind, the Prince should have sentenced Romeo to death as he decreed in Act 1. The Prince decides to banish Romeo instead. As Friar Lawrence states in Act 3 Scene 3, Romeo has been granted a gift because of the sympathy of the Prince.

"O deadly sin! O rude unthankfulness!

Thy fault our law calls death, but the kind Prince, Taking thy part, hath rushed aside the law, And turned that black word 'death' to 'banishment.' This is dear mercy, and thou seest it not." Romeo, by law, deserved death. However, the Prince took Mercutio's death into consideration it seems when he granted Romeo banishment instead of death. The Prince may have done this because Mercutio was the Prince's relative and/or because he was Romeo's best friend.
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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 20, 2010 at 10:51 AM (Answer #3)

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In Act I Scene I, Prince Escalus states

"If ever you disturb our streets again,

Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace."

Here he is telling both families that if they continue to fight, they will be put to death. When the Prince banishes Romeo, he is not sticking to what he states in Act 1. To decide if it is fair or not, you would need to look at the entire situation. Romeo tried not to fight with Tybalt. Mercutio, who is related to the Prince, decided to fight Tybalt in Romeo's place. Mercutio dies which then leads to Romeo killing Tybalt out of revenge. With this in mind, the Prince should have sentenced Romeo to death as he decreed in Act 1. The Prince decides to banish Romeo instead. As Friar Lawrence states in Act 3 Scene 3, Romeo has been granted a gift because of the sympathy of the Prince.

"O deadly sin! O rude unthankfulness!

Thy fault our law calls death, but the kind Prince, Taking thy part, hath rushed aside the law, And turned that black word 'death' to 'banishment.' This is dear mercy, and thou seest it not." Romeo, by law, deserved death. However, the Prince took Mercutio's death into consideration it seems when he granted Romeo banishment instead of death. The Prince may have done this because Mercutio was the Prince's relative and/or because he was Romeo's best friend.

On the other hand, Romeo did not really disturb the peace.  It was not he who started the fight.  The fight was Tybalt's fault.  I would argue that Romeo was just defending himself -- he knows Tybalt hates him.  Tybalt has just killed Mercutio.  What is Romeo supposed to think -- that Tybalt will now just sheathe his sword and go home?  I think that what Romeo does is very much warranted.  He is only defending himself and for that he gets banished?

Not fair, in my opinion.

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

Posted December 20, 2010 at 2:50 PM (Answer #4)

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In order to understand the Prince's ruling, it is necessary to look at the society.  The Prince himself admits at the end of the play that he is also to blame for not taking stronger action against the feuding earlier.

As pointed out by Lord Montegue, Tybalt slew Mercutio and would have paid for that crime with his life.  Romeo did what the state was bound to do, therefore his banishment is understandable.

There is no justice without mercy.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 21, 2010 at 8:32 PM (Answer #5)

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I personally think that Prince Escalus is extremely tired of the fighting that is going on between these two families: it not only disrupts the peace, but endangers innocent citizens. Escalus has repeatedly warned both families, but members of each household are forever looking for a fight, or loopholes that support one.

The Prince could have been harsher with Romeo, as he has threatened death to those who defy his edict of peace-keeping in Verona. In banishing Romeo, Escalus allows him to live.

The banishment, in my mind, is not the biggest problem in the play, but Juliet's father. Capulet promises early on that he will not force Juliet to wed. Suddenly, he not only changes his mind, but becomes verbally abusive, threatening Juliet if she does not marry Paris. Had Capulet kept to his word, Romeo's exile would have been an inconvenience, but one the young lovers could have overcome in time. And it is the lack of time with regard to the wedding date that forces Juliet to take rash action.

I believe the Prince does his best to exact punishment in this tricky situation without harming Romeo, implying that he understands Romeo's need to exact revenge on Tybalt after Tybalt kills Mercutio, while still holding him accountable.

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eastwood32 | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted December 22, 2010 at 12:51 PM (Answer #6)

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I think it is also important to take into consideration that Romeo was defending the murder of his close friend Mercutio, Prince Escalus's kinsman.

If Prince Escalus would have followed through with his threat of killing the next person that disturbed the peace of Verona, then he would have been forced to kill Romeo, the defender of Mercutio's wrongful death.  I think this inner conflict left him with one only viable solution to not only saving face in front of the public who was awaiting his decision but also defending his family's honor and that of Mercutio.  Banishment, though Romeo sees it as a fate much worse than death, becomes an option that will not only please the citizens of Verona but also both parties involved as well as satisfying his inner conflict.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 28, 2011 at 1:00 AM (Answer #7)

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The Prince has seen events come to a head with the deaths of Tybalt and Mercutio, and he is bound to establish peace and security as he has proclaimed he would do at the beginning of the play. He avoids the heavy penalty of death as he has seen too much blood spilled on the streets already. As indicated earlier, it is then the intervention of Juliet's family in further restricting her and speeding up her marriage plans which draws the young couple closer in love and eventually in death.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 10, 2011 at 5:25 PM (Answer #8)

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"Blood is thicker than water" carries so much weight in people's lives.  There is verisimilitude in the Prince's pronouncement that Romeo is banished.  After all, Romeo avenged the death of Mercutio, cousin to the Prince. Besides, Verona is in Italy; who does not understand revenge?

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mrs-nelson | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 14, 2011 at 7:15 PM (Answer #9)

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If we think about this in modern terms, murder usually carries a life sentence or the death penalty. Romeo participated in this fight with his weapon drawn, knowing someone was likely to get hurt or killed.  He knew the warnings and the severe penalties for getting caught. Criminal law today would probably impose the death penalty.  In the classroom, we often compare the Montague's and Capulet's with rival gang members.  A gang member who kills a rival and says, "but he killed my best friend" would not be treated with mercy.  Many students believe that Romeo's punishment was more than fair, he took a life and he was lucky his life was spared. 

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