What are the sacrifices Romeo and Juliet have made in order to be together?William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, Romeo and Juliet both sacrifice much in their daring and "star-crossed" love.  For, they both abandon the safety and security that comes from being children of aristocrats in Renaissance Verona, Italy. Their impassioned love drives them to risk death on more than one occasion.

Indeed, by attending the masquerade held in honor of Juliet, Romeo challenges the edict of the Prince, who in the first scene of the play forbids the Montagues and Capulets to disturb the "quiet of our streets" under pain of losing their lives.  For, by entering the Capulet home, Romeo risks death at the hands of the fiery-tempered Tybalt, who identifies him.  Later, in the second scene of Act II, Romeo scales the walls of the Capulet orchard in the hope of again seeing Juliet; in so doing, he risks death if any of the Capulet servants notice him.  When she walks out onto the balcony, Juliet tells Romeo, 

How cam'st thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
And the place death, considering who thou art,
If any of my kinsmen find thee here. (2.2.66-69)

Their subsequent pledge of love and hasty marriage also endanger the young lovers.  For, Romeo and Juliet have clearly sacrificed their security within their own families, and they both have risked the wrath of both of their families by this marriage. 

In Act III, therefore, the danger of their having married their enemies presents itself as Tybalt and Mercutio argue and the newly married Romeo attempts to intervene.  Pledging his love for Tybalt now as the in-law of the Capulets, Romeo raises the ire of Tybalt who is ignorant of this new development; he raises his sword and Romeo impedes Mercutio from defending himself.  This tragic action causes Romeo then to be banished from Verona by the Prince.  Thus, by marrying Juliet, Romeo has lost his very citizenship in the Verona community and must separate himself from his new wife.  So, he has to sacrifice any comforts he might have as the husband of Juliet.

With Romeo banished, Juliet finds herself in a situation which calls for self-sacrifice.  Since she cannot be with Romeo, her new husband, and she cannot marry the Prince as her mother and father desire, Juliet loses the security of her earlier life and must sacrifice her safety and comfort.  She turns to Friar Laurence and drinks his potion to forestall any marriage between her and the Prince.  With this potion, the friar plans, she will sleep as though dead; meanwhile the friar will talk with Lord and Lady Capulet, informing them that their daughter cannot marry Paris since she is already married.  However, the plan to notify Romeo in time goes awry and the two lovers despair; finally, they pay the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for the love of each other. 

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Romeo and Juliet

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