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In Romeo and Juliet death becomes a trope, a motif, and a theme. For, throughout the play, violence and death are repeatedly connected to the passion between the "star-crossed lovers." In fact, the drama opens with violence, and Romeo, in his soliloquy of oxymorons mentions this fray and unconsciously portends his own end:
Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.
Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O any thing, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms! (1.1.173-177)
Ironically, then, Romeo's words prove all too true as he risks death in climbing the orchard walls in Act II. Further, in Scene 3 Friar Laurence, amazed at the change in Romeo who has abandoned his lovesickness for his passion for Juliet,replies to Romeo's contention that the priest has told him to bury his love for Rosaline. Friar Laurence clarifies his words,
Not in a grave
To lay one in, another out to have. (2.3.85-86)
This trope of grave as suggestive of death appears in Act III as Romeo interposes himself between Mercutio and Tybalt and Mercutio tells Romeo, "Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man" (3.1.87). After his friends death, Romeo's "brawling love" demands the death of Juliet's cousin Tybalt.
Similarly acknowledging the violence in love, as she learns Romeo's identity in Act I, Juliet reacts,
My only love, sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me
That I must love a loathed enemy.(1.5.147-150)
Later, in Act IV, Juliet risks death in order to avoid revealing her marriage to Romeo as the reason she cannot marry Paris. Then, of course, Romeo seeks Juliet in the tomb,the site of death, killing Paris as an intruder and then slaying himself in despair.
Truly, violence and its accompaniment, death, are strongly connected to both love and hate. And, certainly, Romeo and Juliet's love, their "violent delights" do, indeed, have "violent ends."
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