What brings on the dramatic conflict of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? 

What brings on the dramatic conflict of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?


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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The dramatic conflict of Romeo and Juliet really has its roots before the play even starts, with the feud of the Montagues and Capulets.  We are told this in the prologue.  The two families are feuding because of some long-forgotten reason and now any time anyone associated with one gets in contact with someone from the other it causes bloodshed.

Things come to a head, however, when Romeo Montague’s friends convince him to sneak into the Capulet’s party.  They should not really be there.  Once there, Romeo falls head-over-heels in love with Juliet Capulet.  That is the real cause of the conflict.  Romeo and Juliet cannot be together.  Their families won’t hear of it.


My only love sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me,
That I must love a loathed enemy. (Act 1, Scene 5)

Romeo and Juliet do get together, and they decide to try to make a go of it despite the odds.  This includes marriage in secret.  That turns out to be a disaster.  

Romeo gets into a fight with Tybalt, and when his friend Mercutio intervenes, Tybalt kills him.  Then Romeo kills Tybalt.  This is problematic because Tybalt was Juliet's cousin.   Romeo is banished.

Romeo's banishment causes trouble for Juliet.  She is almost forced to marry Paris.  She asks Friar Laurence for help, and he gives her a potion to fake her death, after which he tries to write Romeo a letter warning him. But Romeo doesn't get the letter because of a plague.

When Romeo returns to find Juliet dead, he drinks poison and kills himself.  Juliet wakes up and kills herself with her dagger, and is now really dead.  The good thing is that this ends the conflict between the families.  They bury the feud for good.