What do Lord Montague and Lord Capulet build in memory of their children and to mark the end of their feud in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?
William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is about two young people who find themselves in love despite the violent feud that divides their families into rival camps. In the play's opening, a Chorus, a device used by playwrights to establish background and to fill-in narrative, describes this generations' old feud:
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
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
With this, the audience is immediately informed of the context in which Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet will fall in love and eventually die, taking with them to their graves the feud the origins of which had long ceased to matter. Romeo and Juliet established the theme of forbidden love against a backdrop of ancient tribal feuds, and their deaths, at very young ages and in a failed effort at ensuring their futures together, is the catalyst their respective family elders need to finally acknowledge the futility and destructiveness of their conflict. This is why, with both protagonists dead, the reigning patriarchs of the respective clans agree to end their long feud and construct memorials to the young lovers, married in secret by Friar Laurence. Observing the tragedy before them, the Prince of Verona admonishes the two families for their senseless losses:
Where be these enemies? Capulet, Montague,
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!
Grieving from their losses, and with the prince's harsh words fresh in their heads, Lord Capulet and Lord Montague agree to put aside their differences and to memorialize their dead children:
O brother Montague, give me thy hand. This is my daughter's jointure, for no more Can I demand.
MONTAGUE But I can give thee more,
For I will l raise her statue in pure gold,
That while Verona by that name is known, There shall no figure at such rate be set As that of true and faithful Juliet.
As rich shall Romeo's by his lady's lie, Poor sacrifices of our enmity!
So, to conclude, Lord Montague and Lord Capulet, in agreeing to end their feud, pledge to have constructed golden statues of the other's dead child.
Lord Montague promises to have a statue of Juliet built in pure gold; similarly, Lord Capulet vows to have one fashioned like Romeo. These statues will be a tribute of their love for one another.
In Act V, Scene 3, Prince Escalus of Verona calls upon Lord Montague to "see thy son and heir more early down" (5.3.223-224). Lord Montague reveals that his wife has just died in the night as the grief over Romeo's exile has overcome her spirit. Now he must be confronted with the death of his son. Then, as he sees Romeo's body, Lord Montague is overcome with his second loss. But, he soon learns that Paris and Juliet are also dead. Therefore, after shaking hands with Lord Capulet, he promises to have a statue constructed for Juliet,
...I will raise her statue in pure gold....
There shall no figure at such rate be set
As that of true and faithful Juliet. (5.3.315-317)
Hearing this, Lord Capulet then promises to have a likeness of Romeo constructed, also.
Furthermore, these statues will serve as eternal reminders of the tragedy of the young lovers who secretly wed and loved while the villainous violence of the feud between the Montagues and Capulets escalated around them. Indeed, this animosity between the two families is what caused the two youths to hide their love in the darkness