In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which scenes best demonstrate the contrast of love and hate?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, the scenes that most contrast love and hate, are when Capulet decides that Juliet will marry Paris, having already denied Paris' suit for two years, and Juliet's torment over losing her cousin Tybalt at the hands of the man she loves, Romeo.

In Act One, scene one, Paris asks Capulet to marry Juliet, but Capulet says she is all he has and means the world to him; he says to wait two "summers," and that she should agree to Paris' suit. However, by the time Tybalt is killed in Act Three, scene one (perhaps because of it), Capulet arranges with Paris that he and Juliet will marry in three days. (Juliet is now secretly married Romeo.) In Act Three, scene five, Capulet's love seems to have dissolved; though he insists that what he does is out of love, he certainly acts as if he hates Juliet, threatening her if she will not comply. Capulet expects that she would be thankful for the worthy match they have made for her:

Doth she not give us thanks?
Is she not proud? Doth she not count her blest,
Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought
So worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom? (III.v.145-148)

Juliet responds that she is not proud of what they have done, but thankful, even if their intent was love, which makes her hate—Paris.

Not proud you have, but thankful that you have.
Proud can I never be of what I hate,
But thankful even for hate that is meant love. (III.v.149-151)

Capulet is livid. He tells Juliet she had better get used to the idea and prepare herself, for if she refuses to wed Paris, he will physically drag her to the church in a tumbril. Then he calls her names: "green, diseased meat," "bag of garbage," and "pale, ugly face." This seems more hate than love.

...fettle your fine joints 'gainst Thursday next
To go with Paris to Saint Peter's Church,
Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.
Out, you green-sickness carrion! Out, you baggage!
You tallow-face! (III.v.156-160)

Juliet begs her father to reconsider, but he warns that if Juliet does not marry Paris on Thursday, Capulet will never look at her again. His fingers itch (to slap her). If she refuses him, he says they will throw her out and she can starve for all he cares. Capulet says he has done all this planning for his daughter because he cares so much about her.

We see the fine line between love and hate when Juliet is faced with the knowledge that Romeo, her husband, has killed her beloved cousin Tybalt. She is torn between hate for him and love. At first she wants to curse him, but then she claims her love, and loyalty to him. In Act Three, scene two, Juliet marvels that such a fiend as Romeo could be hidden behind such beauty:

Despised substance of divinest show!
Just opposite to what thou justly seem'st—
A damned saint, an honourable villain! (III.ii.80-82)

However, when the nurse criticizes men, especially Romeo, Juliet scolds her.

Blister'd be thy tongue
For such a wish! (95-96)

The Nurse asks how Juliet can speak well of her cousin's murderer. Juliet replies that he is her husband; Tybalt would have killed Romeo if possible:

Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband? (102)

But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?
That villain cousin would have kill'd my husband. (105-106)

It has been said that there is a fine line between love and hate. Perhaps because love is such a strong emotion, frustration and/or desperation sometimes make people act out with what seems to be hatred rather than love.

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

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