How are the themes of love and hate portrayed in Act 1, Scene 5 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the Capulet's feast in Act 1, Scene 5, the theme of hatred is portrayed through Tybalt's temper. When Tybalt recognizes Romeo's voice behind his mask, Tybalt becomes enraged, believing that Romeo has come to mock their party, as we see in Tybalt's lines,

What, dares the slave
Come hither, cover'd with an antic face,
To fleer and scorn at our solemnity. (57-59)

In these lines, the word "fleer" can be translated as "sneer," which is a form of laughing or smiling that shows ridicule and hatred. In other words, Tybalt is accusing Romeo of laughing at the Capulets and showing contempt. But in actuality, Romeo is just there to enjoy himself, and it is actually Tybalt who is feeling hateful and contemptuous. Hence, we see the theme of hatred being portrayed through Tybalt's anger and hatred in this scene.

We first see the theme of love, particularly love for an enemy or neighbor being portrayed through Lord Capulet in this scene. When he sees Tybalt with his sword drawn ready to slay Romeo, wanting to keep the peace, as he has been ordered to do by the Prince, Lord Capulet stops Tybalt, telling him to leave Romeo alone. Not only that, he pays Romeo several compliments, calling him a stately gentleman in the line "He bears him like a portly gentleman" (69). The word "portly" can be translated to mean "stately," or "dignified," therefore, Lord Capulet is saying that Romeo's manners fit his rank (Random House Dictionary). He also says that "Verona brags of him / To be a virtuous and well-govern'd youth" (70-71).  All of these compliments show that Lord Capulet is doing his best to maintain peace and to show respect and love for his proclaimed enemy.

The theme of love is of course also portrayed through Romeo and Juliet's meeting. Both feel that they have fallen in love at first sight. Romeo declares that he never knew what love was until this night because he had never seen "true beauty till this night" (55). Likewise, Juliet declares, "My only love, sprung from my only hate!," showing us that she feels she has fallen in love with someone her family recognizes to be an enemy.