Ok i was wondering if anyone knows the answer to this question? Why did Montague & Caplet start a big family war so many years ago? it does not say in any books, and i can not find it on the internet! Could anyone help me plzzz?
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That there would be a vendetta between two families is certainly credible in Italy where the word originated, and where such vendettas went on for years. This feud overarches the entire plot of the play, so it is, indeed, a useful element. In addition, there is something terribly fateful about feuds, so it serves Shakespeare well in his play.
Had Shakespeare wanted us to know the reason for the feud, he'd have told us. Since he didn't, this speaks volumes. History is a great teacher if we choose to learn and Shakespeare understood this. That Romeo and Juliet and the rest of the Montagues and Capulets don't know, since it is ancient, makes everything worse. They die, why?
By minimizing it all to a town, Shakespeare succeeds in showing us micro-cosmically the results of hate. We are not born to hate someone because of their color or belief system or government or name or any number of ridiculous reasons. Hatred is taught.
The love of Romeo and Juliet proved to be stronger than the hatred they were taught.
One of Shakespeare's lessons is that as human beings, we must learn to be tolerant of others. We should embrace the differences rather than try to destroy them.
The truth is that the feud between these families is "an ancient grudge" which has no relevance to the characters in this play--except that it has continued and remains strong. We don't know what caused it, but we do see the consequences. The Prince and the people of the town have had enough, implying this is an active feud, not a passive one. There have been fights in the streets, and they must have been ugly for the Prince to make such a decree. The families appear to be of equal stature in the town, so it's hard to imagine what might have triggered such an explosive emotional mess. I've included a good e-notes site on this very topic which I think you might enjoy reading.
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