To what extent is violence and conflict a central theme in "Romeo and Juliet"?
Violence and conflict are most definitely central themes in this tragic love story. Even though the primary storyline is the tale of these young lovers, their love isn't allowed to grow and develop because of the violence and hatred between the Capulet and Montague families.
When Juliet first realizes that she has fallen in love with a Montague, her reaction is not one of joy. She says,
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 (1.5)
The reality has hit home with her and she understands just how impossible this situation could end up being for her and Romeo.
For me, one of the most tragic moments in the play occurs when Tybalt picks a fight with Romeo, but Romeo refuses to fight back because he has just married Juliet and he is trying to be a good kinsman to a Capulet. But Tybalt refuses to back down, which causes Mercutio, Romeo's friend, to jump into the fray, defending Romeo against Tybalt's attack. Tybalt ends up killing Mercutio, and Romeo kills Tybalt out of sheer grief and anger, knowing as he is doing it that he is hurting his new wife.
The links below will take you to various eNotes pages that can help you further explore scenes, characters, and themes of the play. Good luck!