In the Prologue to Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare sets the scene for what's about to follow. He gives us the background to the ensuing action, telling us about the long-running feud between the Montagues and the Capulets. Straight away, the audience is aware that bitter, bloody conflict is an ever-present feature of life in Verona. And what's more, we're left in no doubt that this monumental feud will lead in due course to the tragic deaths of the two star-crossed lovers.
Just how bitter and bloody this conflict really is can be observed in the very first scene, when servants from the rival families face off in an unseemly street brawl. The fact that humble servants are so filled with hatred for the other side and so ready to draw their swords at the drop of a hat is an indication of the depths of bitterness that permeate all aspects of social life in the city.
These servants only work for the Montagues and the Capulets, yet they're as puffed-up with pride as any member of the family. As such, they are ready, willing, and able to defend family honor by whatever means necessary. Immediately, the audience starts asking itself the question: if this is how servants behave, what on earth will the young aristocrats from each family be like?