How does Shakespeare show anger throughout the play Romeo and Juliet?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Anger in this play is almost entirely generated by the feud between the Montagues and Capulets. The feud literally destroys lives. Events comes to a head in Act III on a hot day in the streets of Verona. Romeo, now secretly married to Juliet, gets dragged into a conflict he wants badly to avoid. When he tries to step between Mercutio and Tybalt to stop a fight, Tybalt stabs and mortally wounds Mercutio. The dying Mercutio cries out in anger at the feud that has cost him his life: “A plague o’ both your houses.”

Romeo is so deeply angered by the death of his dear friend Mercutio that he, in turn, kills Tybalt.

When Juliet hears of the death of her beloved cousin Tybalt, her rage almost consumes her. She lashes out with great anger at Romeo, saying:

A damnèd saint, an honorable villain!

O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell
When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend
In moral paradise of such sweet flesh?
In other words, she believes only an evil person could have killed her cousin. She thinks, for a moment, that Romeo is nothing more than a good-looking fiend.
A few minutes later, however, she comes to her senses, saying, "Oh, what a beast was I to chide at him!"
One of the main points of the play is to illustrate the destruction caused by senseless anger and hatred. Shakespeare shows that anger does not confine itself to words, but spills over into deeds. It destroys young, vital lives for no good reason.
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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Very frequently, Shakespeare uses figurative language throughout Romeo and Juliet to show the characters' anger. There are a few great examples of figurative language being used to express anger in the Prince's speech in the very first scene.

The first example is seen when the Prince uses the metaphor, "[p]rofaners of this neighbour-stained steel," to refer to the Montague and Capulet families (I.i.78-79). The word steel in this line metaphorically refers to the blades of their swords while "neighbour-stained steel" metaphorically describes their swords as being stained by their neighbors, or more literally, stained by the blood of their neighbors. Therefore, in this line, the Prince is using this metaphor to accuse the family members of violating their swords by staining them with their neighbors' blood.

The Prince uses a second metaphor when he next calls the family members "beasts" (79). In the Prince's eyes, and rightly so, these men are no longer acting like men who are thinking, feeling, rational beings; instead, they are acting like "beasts," or animals, who make decisions based on their instincts.

A third, extended metaphor can be seen in his lines:

What, ho! you men ...
That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
With purple fountains issuing from your veins! (79-81)

Here, he refers to their "pernicious rage, " or wicked rage, as a fire that is being put out by their neighbor's blood, or "purple fountains issuing from [their] veins."  

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