Romeo and Julietis a play about the tempestuousness of emotions, reflected in its treatment of both love and hatred. Violence is a key recurring theme within this play, which follows two feuding families caught up in vendetta. It's worth noting that (following a brief prologue ) the play opens...
Romeo and Juliet is a play about the tempestuousness of emotions, reflected in its treatment of both love and hatred. Violence is a key recurring theme within this play, which follows two feuding families caught up in vendetta. It's worth noting that (following a brief prologue) the play opens on a scene in which violence is very much on the forefront, with the stage directions for Act 1, Scene 1 reading: "Enter Sampson and Gregory, armed with swords and bucklers." Two servants of the Capulets emerge armed on stage, run into two servants of the Montagues, and the situation escalates with the arrival of Benvolio and the hyper-violent Tybalt, drawing in still more participants as the situation turns into open violence in the streets.
Violence is central to the world of Romeo and Juliet, but it's also a critical component to the personalities of many of the characters. Tybalt more than anyone else seems consumed by his hatred of the Montagues, and his aggression ultimately leads to his death. Meanwhile, there is also Mercutio, who (while not himself a part of the feud between the Capulets and Montagues) is also prone towards aggression, as can be clearly seen with his fight against Tybalt. Finally, there is Romeo himself, with his tendency to swing violently between extremes. When Tybalt first seeks to fight Romeo, Romeo refuses to engage in violence (due to his marriage with Juliet). However, after Tybalt has killed Mercutio, Romeo's mindset changes dramatically, with Romeo now seeking to kill Tybalt to avenge his fallen friend.
The violence of the setting also plays a critical role in the conclusion of Romeo and Juliet, as Romeo seeks to break into Juliet's crypt to commit suicide (not knowing that her death had been faked). This act, in and of itself, speaks to his great emotional turbulence, but even before we get to that point, Romeo runs into Paris. Here again, their encounter turns violent and ends with Romeo killing his opponent. As we see, these themes of masculine aggression resurface again and again throughout the play, with a devastating effect on the world its characters inhabit.