What are the different ways in Romeo and Juliet that show love as a negative force with all the characters?
In his verbal exchange with Romeo in Act II, Friar Lawrence cautions Romeo who wants the priest to perform the marriage ceremony immediately for him and Juliet, arguing that he does not care what may happen as a result:
ROMEO. Then love-devouring death do what he dare,
It is enough I may but call her name. (2.6.7-8)
FRIAR LAWRENCE. These violent delights have violent ends.
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder
Which as they kiss consume. (2.6.9-11)
Certainly, violent love, as Friar Lawrence terms it, is a motif that weaves together much of the action of Romeo and Juliet; moreover, it is this unbridled love that creates a turbulence of passion which, in turn, engenders further violence and death. These two elements of violence and death act together as a negative force upon all the characters.
Here are the different ways that the motif of violent love as a negative force affecting all the characters is exemplified in the play:
- The play opens with violence as even the servants of the houses of Montague and Capulet wish to duel in the first scene
- Lord Montague and Lord Capulet rush out into the fray of the first scene, wishing to do violence to each other and their houses [houses is an implied metaphor for the family and servants of both Montagues and Capulets]
- When Tybalt sees Romeo at the ball held for Juliet, he wants to kill Romeo out of his love for Juliet and the family.
- In Act II, Scene 2, Romeo risks his life and violent action against him to stand beneath the balcony of the daughter of his enemy.
- Romeo and Juliet risk death by marrying each other. (Act II)
- Mercutio and Tybalt accost each other with hatred born of their love for Romeo and Juliet respectively. (Act III)
- Romeo attempts to demonstrate his new love for the Capulets after marrying Juliet, but it acts instead as a negative force, fomenting Tybalt into a more violent action than originally intended against Mercutio. Angered further by Romeo, Tybalt takes advantage of Romeo's standing between them and strikes a fatal blow to Mercutio. (Act III)
- In retaliation against Tybalt and because of his love for Mercutio, Romeo then slays Tybalt. (Act III)
- Romeo's murderous reaction against Tybalt has the negative effect of condemning him to banishment to Mantua. (Act III)
- This banishment of Romeo because of his violent love causes Juliet untold grief and she, then, resorts to excessive and desperate plans when her parents want her to marry Paris in order to change her thinking and console her. (Act III)
- Juliet's love for Romeo drives her to commit the desperate act of drinking from the vial given her by Friar Lawrence which will make her body simulate death so the priest has time to work out a plan for her and Romeo. This is an act that later leads to negative results. (Act IV)
- Because Juliet is presumed dead and fate keeps Romeo from learning the truth, in his irrational love and violent emotions, Romeo purchases poison from a poor apothecary and goes to the tomb of Juliet. (Act V)
- Into this tomb he enters and encounters Paris. Out of his violently possessive love for Juliet, Romeo then kills Paris. (Act V)
- When he finds Juliet, whom he presumes dead, Romeo in an act of desperate and violent love wishes to join her in death and drinks the poison. (Act V)
- After Juliet awakens, she, too, reacts with violent emotion and snatching Romeo's dagger says, "O happy dagger!/This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die" (5.3.174-175).
- After the death of her son, Lady Montague dies, and, of course, the other parents grieve and are never the same. (Act V)
At the end of the play. Prince Escalus remarks upon the negative force of love:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. (5.3.325-326)