Romeo and Juliet contains themes that are still applicable today. Discuss.

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andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Love

The theme of love is timeless. It has been the subject of much controversy and delight throughout the ages and is as relevant today as it had been a thousand years ago. The focus in the play is romantic love. Romeo and Juliet are 'two star-crossed lovers' who have an overwhelming passion for one another, a passion that transcends every complication that they may encounter. Their love is reckless and unbound.

Today we are just as much aware of, and exposed to, the rigours of love and we are constantly reminded of its value and its risk through literature, the media, our everyday conversation. Who does not enjoy an exhilarating romantic comedy or a dramatic depiction of a love complicated by feud, jealousy and all the other dramatic aspects related thereto? We are enthralled and experience a feeling of well-being and satisfaction when love triumphs, even in tragedy. Stories of love provide a respite from the complications and demands of modern-day society. So yes, the theme of love is still applicable today.

The generation gap

The idea that teenagers are misunderstood by the older generation (especially by their parents), is just as relevant today as it was in Shakespeare's time. In the play, Juliet's parents disregard her feelings and wishes and wish to enforce their desire for her to enter into an arranged marriage. They are content with the idea that, as her parents, they know what's best for her. The conflict that arises is typical of what many teenagers (and even adults) experience today, not only in relation to their romantic indulgences, but also with regard to their career and other life-affirming choices. The situation is worsened in the play because of an age-old feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. Today, parents are less inclined to encourage their young to associate with those whom they disagree with or find contentious or unacceptable, whether it is because of an individual judgement or assumption or because they do not have good relations with the other family. The outcome, more often than not, leads to clandestine relationships which, at times, result in tragedy.

Revenge

It is not uncommon today for society to seek some form of retribution when a criminal act has been performed. There is a general view that the perpetrator must be punished. in the play, Romeo seeks revenge when Mercutio is killed and he kills Tybalt. Our systems of justice dispense the same kind of punishment to those who break the law, and the subject of execution, for example, has resulted in fiery debates around the world about its application and fairness.

It is clear, therefore, that the major themes in the play are just as relevant today as they were in the sixteenth century.

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