How does the suicidal impulse that both Romeo and Juliet exhibit relate to the overall theme of young love? Does Shakespeare seem to consider self-destructive tendency inextricably connected with...

How does the suicidal impulse that both Romeo and Juliet exhibit relate to the overall theme of young love?

Does Shakespeare seem to consider self-destructive tendency inextricably connected with love, or is it a separate issue?? Why do you think so? Give Examples of how their love is, isn't, or could be both self-destructive or a separate issue when considering the elements of love.

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Overall, Shakespeare doesn't think that there is an inherently self-destructive tendency inextricably connected with love. While he acknowledges that there can be a dark side to love, in other plays we see healthy love relationships without a self-destructive edge: Portia and Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice, for one example. As for Romeo and Juliet itself, the play would lose much of its edge if it were merely arguing that young love is inherently self-destructive. The greater and more compelling issue is that larger social forces—in this case, the Capulet-Montague feud—create a destructive frame around the young lovers. If the lovers were going to destroy themselves anyway, the play would lose the force of critiquing the feud.

That said, there is an impulsivity and need to "have everything now" in the characters of Romeo and Juliet typical of adolescence that adds even more fuel to the fire, so to speak. The larger social forces make the love affair extremely difficult. Romeo and Juliet's tendency to act without thinking clearly then helps to turn a difficult situation tragic. The friar advises Romeo to cool down his ardor for his own good. Clearly, too, the self-destructive tendencies of the young lovers are shown in how quickly they commit suicide. Part of Shakespeare's point is that the older generation has a responsibility to act like adults precisely to protect the young people, who are not yet able to.

alexb2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It sounds like you need help writing an essay, there are lots of good resources on this site, in the Romeo and Juliet area, to help.

As a more simple answer to your question, Shakespeare shows that young love is an 'all or nothing' proposition. When Romeo is told by the Friar that his punishment will be banishment, and not death, Romeo replies that there is no world for him outside Verona.

There is also a measure of idealism in their love. Juliet and Romeo refuse to bend to the reality of their family situation, believing that love will conquer all.

rzimand | Student

I would suggest that Romeo's and Juliet's suicidal impulse comes not just from the "love" part of your description, but mostly from the "young" part. Both Romeo and Juliet are extremely impulsive throughout the play. Romeo is already been pining away for another girl named Rosaline at the beginning of the play, but immediately forgets her the instant he sees Juliet. (The friar even comments on how quickly he changes his affection.) Also, at the beginning of the play, Juliet tells her mother that she's never even dreamed of getting married, but of couse that instantly changes when she sees Romeo. In addition to their natural impulsivity, which we see plenty evidence of in the play before they contemplate suicide, they are too young to have the experience of having a broken heart that's healed over time.

revolution | Student

Their love is very strong, powerful enough  that they would die for each other without any hesitation when one is down and gone. It shows that their love is too strong that they would do anything for each other, even murdering someone, he would readily do. Their love is too deep that they become doom lovers with doomed love. They love each other even though their two families are feuding rivals. They secretly married each other without anybody consent and allow love to control them blindly, taking them to a place where there is destruction and mayhem happening everywhere and anytime. Their love is too risky to exploit further.

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Romeo and Juliet

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