To what extent, and in what ways, does Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet explain the origins and nature of prejudice and its effects?ILLUSTRATE YOUR ANSWER WITH EXTRACTS FROM THE TEXT AND RELATE...

To what extent, and in what ways, does Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet explain the origins and nature of prejudice and its effects?

ILLUSTRATE YOUR ANSWER WITH EXTRACTS FROM THE TEXT AND RELATE THESE O CONTEMPORARY EXAMPLES.

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akasha124 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One could argue that from the first moment of the play in the prologue, Shakespeare starts to describe prejudice,

"Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes"

Because what he's stating there is that two families have such serious grudges against each other that people have shed blood over it, but yet at this point in time where the play happens, no one can remember the cause of these grudges.  Despite not even knowing why the families hate each other, people kill each other (and themselves) throughout the play because of this prejudice.

And at the end, through the Prince, Shakespeare is commenting on what a waste of energy and life this was,

"A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun for sorrow will not show his head.
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

  • Prince, scene iii"

This still happens today when people are prejudiced against a group of people (such as gay people, Black people, Latino people, people who follow Pagan religions, etc., etc.) for no real reason past that their families are and it's what they've been taught to do. 

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

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