What are two main external and internal conflicts Romeo faces in Act I?

Expert Answers
poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romeo's internal conflicts are shaped around his romantic interests and their shifting landscapes. Romeo begins Act I extremely conflicted about his love for Rosaline, a young woman who does not return his love. He bemoans that he is "Out of her favor, where [he is] in love." Romeo is so aggrieved by this situation that he claims to "have lost myself." This grief is magically lifted when Romeo's attention shifts to Juliet after seeing her at a ball. Still, not all is fair in love: Juliet is a member of the rival Capulets, and Romeo is now faced with a new internal conflict of whether and how to negotiate this relationship across family lines. 

Romeo's external conflicts are dictated by this rivalry: the Capulets and the Montagues have been fighting for so long that neither family bothers to mention the origins of this war, choosing instead to pick fights in the streets of Verona recklessly. As the bodies pile up, the Prince decrees that further violence between the families will be punishable by death. As a Montague, Romeo must navigate these tensions, a reality which is only heightened by his love for Juliet.

More directly, Romeo faces an external conflict involving Tybalt Capulet. When Tybalt spots Romeo at the Capulet ball, he decides he wants to kill Romeo for treading on forbidden territory. Lord Capulet manages to intervene before any blood is shed on the property, but the grudge match has already been set and the emotional stakes are too high: Romeo will later pay dearly for his trespassing.

skolrgipsy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of Romeo's main external conflicts is of course between his powerful family, the Montagues, and their chief rivals, the Capulets. While Romeo is in no way disloyal to his family, he is disenchanted by the constant battles that break out so predictably between the two families, battles that often end with grave injuries to both sides.

Another external conflict is between Romeo's family and the Prince of Verona, who has commanded both families to desist from further skirmishes "upon pain of death." The bloodletting between the two families naturally disturbs the peace of the city, disrupting commerce and at times harming innocent citizens, while also blemishing the reputation of Verona. When his family is once again battling the Capulets, Romeo is well aware of the Prince's proscription against fighting, and fears both the wrath of the Prince and the safety of his family.

Internally, Romeo battles to maintain his romantic, passionate character in the face of the obligation exerted by his family to carry on the grudge with the Capulets. There is part of his character that desires peace with the young men loyal to the Capulets, sensing that the feud between the two families has devolved into senseless violence that forever threatens to poison each new generation of each family.

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question