What are some difficulties Romeo and Juliet might face due to different characters' viewpoints in Act I? In Act I, with which character's viewpoint on the theme of love or hate do you most agree and most disagree?
In Act I of Romeo and Juliet, characters have different viewpoints regarding the themes of love and hate, which will ultimately impact the decisions Romeo and Juliet make throughout the rest of the play.
On Juliet's side, her parents, Lord and Lady Capulet, differ in terms of their opinions about marriage. In Act I, Scene 2, Paris approaches Lord Capulet—once again—about his desire to marry Juliet. Lord Capulet, however, brushes Paris off by saying,
My child is yet a stranger in the world;
She hath not seen the change of fourteen years:
Let two more summers wither in their pride
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride (9).
In other words, Lord Capulet thinks Juliet is too young to marry, and he urges Paris to wait at least two more years.
In the very next scene, however, Lady Capulet bombards Juliet about the idea of marriage and basically forces her to pursue Paris:
Well, think of marriage now; younger than you
Here in Verona, ladies of esteem,
Are already mothers (14).
Lady Capulet backs up her argument of insisting that Juliet think about marriage by citing other women who are Juliet's age who are already married and have children.
The differences between Juliet's parents are cut and dry—she either gets married now or she waits. This may force Juliet to make a mature decision that she might not be ready to make. Furthermore, these differences highlight the friction between Juliet and her parents; rather than ask for her parents' guidance, Juliet turns to her Nurse for advice.
Throughout Act I, we also see different viewpoints regarding the theme of hate. From the very beginning, Tybalt presented himself as a feisty, hot-headed Capulet who will seize any opportunity to fight with a Montague. In Act I, Scene 1, he says, "What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, / As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee" (4). This sentiment continues when Tybalt sees Romeo at the party in Act I, Scene 5. Lord Capulet forces Tybalt to keep his cool, to which Tybalt responds, "I will withdraw: but this intrusion shall, / Now seeming sweet, convert to bitterest gall" (21).
Tybalt's violent tendencies counter Benvolio's peaceful nature. In Act I, Scene 1, Benvolio tries to convince everyone to stop fighting. This can also be seen in Act I, Scene 4, where Benvolio directs Romeo's and Mercutio's attention back to the party. Benvolio's peace-keeping nature continues throughout the play.
Since Tybalt is a Capulet and Benvolio is a Montague, their contrasting dispositions may cause a strain in the budding relationship between Romeo and Juliet.
***Please Note: The page numbers come from the Dover Thrift Edition of Romeo and Juliet. While page numbers may not be exact, all quoted lines appear in the scene I mentioned.***
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