Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How might you expand on the following statements about Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? Romeo and Juliet is a cautionary tale about the potential that human emotion has to lead people down dark and dangerous paths. (Why do their emotions lead them down a dark path?) While Romeo and Juliet are described as "star-crossed lovers" it is not fate but the personal discussions of one key individual that results in a tragic end for the two lovers. (Is it one person or fate that causes the action of the play?) Romeo and Juliet is believed by many to be a love story, but this is an overly simplistic interpretation of Shakespeare's work. Romeo and Juliet is really a complex analysis of how people think about love, and the confusion that often results. (How is the story about lust, infatuation, and love?)

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1. For this topic you’re being asked to consider how human emotions cause the central tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Throughout the play, characters react quickly and violently to emotions, without considering whether or not these are lasting feelings or rational decisions.

  • In Act III, Scene i, Mercutio fights Tybalt in a moment of rage. Disgusted at Romeo’s reluctance to fight Tybalt, Mercutio says “O calm, dishonouable, vile submission!” immediately before picking a fight with Tybalt himself. Mercutio equates “calm” with dishonorable and vile, and therefore, by his warped notion of rage-based honor, picks a fight with Tybalt which results in his death. Now, angry at Mercutio’s murder, Romeo, who has just vowed to not hurt Tybalt for Juliet’s sake, says that “fier-ey’d fury be my conduct now.” With only rage and no reason to guide his actions, Romeo fights and kills Tybalt, causing the Prince to banish him from the city, separating him from Juliet.
  • Romeo quickly resolves to...

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