What image, phrase, or line from the Romeo and Juliet Prologue captures the central message or theme of the play for you?

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One major theme of Romeo and Juliet has to do with both love and hate and how, frankly, alike they are in terms of their effects on the lives of those who feel such intense and passionate emotions.  Both love and hate often cause people to behave impulsively and can lead to tragic consequences (as we see in the play itself).  The four lines, "The fearful passage of their death-marked love / And the continuance of their parents' rage, / Which, but their children's end, naught could remove, / Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage," seem to best embody this theme (9-12).  These lines refer to the progress of the love between Romeo and Juliet, the love that was destined to end in their tragic deaths, as well as the hatred and anger that exists between their families, and, finally, how nothing could put an end to this feud except the families' shared grief over the deaths of their relatively young children.

 

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Much of the action of the play is included within the prologue.  If I were to choose one line, however, that encapsulates most of the action, I would choose, "From forth the fatal loins of these two foes / A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life."  These lines get at the heart of the action of the play.  The "fatal loins of these two foes" sets up the central idea of the feud, which is at the heart of the play.  Without the feud, there would be no reason for Romeo and Juliet not to be together.  The reference to "star-cross'd lovers" speaks to their courtship and eventual marriage.  Likewise, the note that they "take their life" portrays the action in the later acts and the ultimate impact of the play as a whole.

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