Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is the most important theme in Romeo and Juliet?

Expert Answers info

Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator


calendarEducator since 2018

write1,277 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

While there is no definitive answer to this question, one might say that hate is the most important thematic idea in Romeo and Juliet. This is ironic, since the centerpiece of the play is the love between Romeo and Juliet, but hate is what leads to their ultimate destruction-- or at least, is a major player in it.

Hate can be seen as a kind of poison in the story. Just as the flowers and plants in Friar Lawrence's garden can become deadly if mishandled, so too does the love between Romeo and Juliet become poisoned by the hatred around them. After all, the two are from equally noble houses-- were there no feud between the Montagues and Capulets, then no one would likely oppose Romeo and Juliet's union.

But hate muddies the waters. Hatred leads to so many deaths: Mercutio is killed after being attacked by Tybalt; Romeo slays Tybalt in vengeance, leading to his banishment. Even the very society of Verona is permeated with aggression, with the young men feeling "unmanly" should they not stoop to revenge for any slight, real or perceived. Even women are not immune: Lady Capulet tells Juliet she wnats Romeo killed after what he did to Tybalt.

While hate leads to the play's final double suicide, hatred is ultimately overcome by Romeo and Juliet's overwhelming love to one another. Shaken by how their "enmity" lead to the loss of the heirs of both their houses, Montague and Capulet form a truce, agreeing to end the destructive conflict once and for all.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Alec Cranford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write5,868 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

I would argue that the most important theme in Romeo and Juliet is that of fate. This is touched on in the Prologue to the play, which refers to the two as "star-cross'd lovers." From the moment they fall in love at the ball (which itself wouldn't have happened had Capulet not restrained Tybalt from fighting with Romeo) events seem to conspire against them. Tybalt and Mercutio clash in the streets, leading to the former's death at the hands of Romeo; Juliet is engaged to be married to Paris; plague prevents Friar John from reaching Romeo to inform him of Friar Lawrence's plot. In short, everything that could go wrong does, and the two lovers perish as a result. One might as plausibly argue that the theme of hatred or conflict, and love's ability to transcend it, is equally important, but I would argue that the role of fate, which Shakespeare examines in other plays as well, is fundamental to this tragedy.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

generalcody | Student

i think basically, love. although you could argue tradegy