How important is the theme of conflict in Romeo and Juliet?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Both responders above make credible and valid points about conflict and theme; and to be sure, the question as posed is a little odd. As with any story, take away the conflict/s and there isn't much of anything left. At least nothing interesting. ;-)

That being said, I do believe Shakespeare uses R&J as a vehicle to present observations about the nature of conflict, and these are questions which are quite germane to the play itself. For instance, Shakespeare uses the chorus' prologue to firmly cast the feuding families in a shameful light. That they have remained engaged in a conflict that has transcended the generations so far as to lose its point and its purpose entirely, suggests something what a conflicted human race we are. I believe Shakespeare must have been purposeful in omitting any historical context to their argument - his point was that there was no point to the feuding.

Based upon the sub plots and complications throughout the play, it stands to reason that Shakespeare has a message about the fruitlessness of petty conflicts.
Based upon what becomes of Romeo's friendship with the Friar, Juliet's estranged relationship with the nurse and her entire family, and the regretful deaths of Tybalt, Mercutio, and Paris - perhaps we could say that we should be a bit more careful, particularly in our youth, about the battles we choose.

I submit this response in the spirit of trying to justify the question's intent.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I just want to be sure you understand that conflict is an element of all literature. Conflict is the struggle between two opposing forces. You have different kinds of conflict that characters have to face.One is thecharacters themselves have a conflict with each other, known as man This is the feud between the two families.Man vs. nature iswhere the struggle involves something found in nature,suchas anearthquake. A conflict with something in society can occur by fighting against a government that is tyrannical. In Romeo and Juliet,this occurswhen Romeo is banished for killing Tybalt. Man vs. the unknown isa type of conflict where a character struggles against something for which there is no explanation. This is seen in the play when the lovers struggle against fate. The last type of conflict is man vs. himself, where the character has an internal struggle. She/he must overcome or deal with something like whether to tell on your best friend or finding the courage to fight a drug addiction. Romeo and Juliet have internal struggles they must face in the play, such as finding out that each is from the family that's a sworn enemy.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I’m not sure one can even consider the unqualified term “conflict” as a theme at all. Consider that every play, indeed nearly every piece of literature, has some sort of conflict at its core; if they didn’t there would be no story. That said, conflicts abound in Romeo and Juliet, and the prolog immediately introduces us to two: the feud between Montagues and Capulets and fate versus the young lovers . Of course, the feud keeps Romeo and Juliet apart to begin with, and fate conspires to keep them apart and eventually drive them to kill themselves.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial