What are some of the conflicts in Romeo and Juliet?

What are some of the conflicts in Romeo and Juliet

Expert Answers
rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romeo and Juliet is characterized by several major conflicts. The first involves the longstanding feud between the Capulets and the Montagues that is, of course, absolutely central to the plot of the play. Without understanding this conflict, little else in the play makes sense. Romeo and Juliet's love is dangerous because it is forbidden. It is forbidden because of the mutual hatred between the two families.

This brings us to another important conflict—love vs. hate. Romeo and Juliet's love is born and flourishes in an atmosphere of hate. On the one hand, this love is consumed by hate—the two lovers die at the end of the play. On the other, their deaths, though tragic, bring an end to the feud between their two families. In a sense, love triumphs over hate in the end.

A different, related conflict is generational in nature. This takes place on a number of different levels. Juliet expressly defies the wishes of her father when she initially refuses to marry Paris (because she is in fact married to Romeo). Romeo knows his parents would not approve of his love for Juliet, but he marries her anyway. Tybalt openly quarrels with Capulets at the beginning of the play, and both the Nurse and Friar Laurence chide Romeo and Juliet for their impetuousness. These conflicts might be described as "young vs. old."

Perhaps the most poignant and important conflict is between the two young lovers and fate itself. The Chorus tells us that Romeo and Juliet are "star-cross'd lovers" at the beginning of the play, and we know throughout that they are doomed. Even Romeo is compelled to "defy" the "stars" in the play when he hears (erroneously) that Juliet has died. These characters struggle against fate throughout the play.