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Romeo and Juliet: a Tragedy of Two Star-crossed Lovers

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A tragedy of two star-crossed lovers between rival families results in five devastating deaths from a tragic courtship. Set in medieval Verona, Italy, the play, Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare begins with a brawl between members of rival families–the Montagues and the Capulets. The two have a rivalry which has carried even to their servants. Lord Capulet, the head of the house of Capulets, had begun to receive interest of love for his thirteen-year-old daughter, Juliet. The Capulet’s masquerade ball, set for Juliet to view her admirer, Paris, allows Romeo, a rival Montague, to come in secret with hopes of wooing Rosaline. Instead, the couple became infatuated with one another. Their forbidden love, whose union in the hopes of Friar Lawrence, a wise advisor in the play, would reconcile the two families. The Renaissance’s core values are brought forth by Shakespeare which is introduced in the play. Free will, the ability to act at one’s own discretion without constraint, is visible in his work. The corrupted, nefarious love story of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare demonstrates the Renaissance idea, of free will, through its deceitful acts demonstrated by Friar Lawrence marrying Romeo and Juliet, Friar Lawrence concocting the potion, and Juliet deceiving her nurse and parents by making them believe she wants to marry Paris.

Friar Lawrence, a man not afraid to destroy his reputation, is willing to for the union of the two families. Early morning of the scene, Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin, and Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend, are wondering what happened to Romeo. The two learned that late last night, Romeo never returned home, and shared words of the requested duel from Tybalt, a rival Capulet, with Romeo. Benvolio and Mercutio gossiped about the high characteristics of Tybalt as a master swordsman. When Romeo finally enters the scene, the two ridicule him by saying he is weakened for love, They then joust at him with one another with sexual comments after Mercutio accuses Romeo of spending the night with Rosaline. As the nurse enters the scene, followed by Peter, a servant of their house, she learns of who Romeo is. Mercutio endlessly teases her about being a badger, the two then follow, but not before Romeo leaves. He is then warned to not be double-sided and agrees to see Friar Lawrence in the cell to request a marriage. Through his use of free will in the play, Friar Lawrence’s position as a religious leader is jeopardized, in Act 2, Scene 3, when he agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet, in the hope of ending the feuding between the Montagues and the Capulets: “For this alliance may so happy prove/ To turn your households’ rancor to pure love”. Here, Friar Lawrence is saying that he will help the two with their secret wedding and hopefully this lucky marriage will turn the Montagues and Capulets’ hatred for each other to love. While this is happening, the Nurse, in the Capulet’s orchard, speaks to Juliet about their plan and to wait in Friar Lawrence’s cell for them. The nurse, who then departs, requests a night so that the two may consummate. As Romeo and the friar wai for Juliet, Romeo concludes that what may happen in the future is nothing to the joy he feels. Friar then gives the advice to love only moderately, by saying, “these violent delights have violent ends”. Juliet, who then enters the scene, has themselves speak about their love for one another, she then points cannot be easily described, and those who believe that they can describe it are beggars. In the marriage which later happens in Act 2, Scene 6, Friar Lawrence, who is present throughout this scene, tying the knot between the two lovers: “Come, come with me, and we will make short work; For, by your leaves, you shall not stay alone till Holy Church incorporate two in one”. Friar Lawrence is asking for the two to come with him, that they will be wed quickly, as he fears what will happen if the two are left alone will do alone, and he won’t do it until they are united. After Romeo’s and Juliet’s long night, the next act opens up with preparation for the brawl. Tybalt, when entered, and Mercutio, when entered, draw both their swords, jousting at words of cunning. Romeo, who only enters to stop the fight, attempts to restore peace, but not before Mercutio is stabbed who then states his famous words, “a plague o’ both your houses”. His words are important after Rome is wed, as he curses a plague to be besotted on the rival houses repeatedly. Overall, Friar Lawrence’s reputation, which has not yet been destroyed, is on the line due to following through with the marriage between the two lovers.

After spending the night together, Romeo hurriedly leaves through the window of the Capulet’s house, so he cannot be seen by the watch. Her mother, who then enters, mistakes Juliets crying for missing Tybalt, her cousin. In reality, her daughter is crying from the grief of missing Romeo, her husband, which Lady Capulet does not know. Lady Capulet then consolidates to her daughter, expressing her wishes to see “the villain Romeo” dead. Through cunning, as precise as Mercutio’s and Romeo’s sexual puns, she leads her mother to believe that she wishes for Romeo’s death: “Indeed, I never shall be satisfied, With Romeo, till I behold him—dead—Is my poor heart for a kinsman vexed”. The importance here is Juliet is saying that she will never be satisfied till Romeo, who killed her cousin, is dead, just as her heart feels when it grieves for Tybalt. Her deception, which does not last long, ends when Lady Capulet speaks to her of the plan for her to marry Paris on Thursday, She rejects the match, stating she would rather marry Romeo than Paris. After her parents leave, Nurse, her close confidant, betrays her trust. She too advises Juliet to marry Paris, advising that he will be a better choice for a second marriage: “I think it best you married with the county. Oh, he’s a lovely gentleman-…our first is dead”. Here she is saying that the best thing to do is marry the count, that he himself is a much finer gentleman, and Juliet’s first marriage with Romeo is now over. Romeo has also been banished, so it would be impossible for Juliet to see him. Juliet pretends to agree, deceiving her nurse, she states that she will go to Friar Lawrence to confess and be forgiven for her marriage with Romeo. She vows to never trust her shifty nurse and ends the scene with comments to herself that she can still end her life. Overall, through Juliet’s choice of deceiving her nurse and parents, she is able to stay loyal to her husband Romeo.

Friar Lawrence, a self-sufficient king, is able, through free will, to help Juliet’s crisis of being set up with Paris. Juliet’s crisis, brought on by Lord Capulet, is that she will be wedded to Paris to end her mourning and weeping. In Friar Lawrence’s cell, Paris speaks to the friar of Tybalt’s death making Juliet unbalanced. When Juliet enters the cell, Paris speaks to her with arrogance, almost loving, with Juliet responding with apathy and remarks they are not yet wed. Here, she deceives Paris making him believe that she has gone to the friar to consolidate to him for she appears sad. Once Paris leaves, but not before a kiss is given, she requests for Friar Lawrence to solve the mess she is in, for she wishes to prevent it and would do so right there with a knife. What if she is wed to another man she will kill herself and seeks his knowledge, advice, for the current situation. Juliet is willing to die if a solution to this issue is not presented. The friar then proposes a plan which will deceive her parents. In Act 4, Scene 1, Friar Lawrence deceives Lord Capulet when he concocts a potion and follows through with the plan that causes Juliet to appear dead when drunk: “… cold and drowsy humor; for no pulse…No warmth, no breath… appear like death”. The importance, she will appear to be dead for the next 42 hours, her flesh will be cold, her lips and cheeks pale, her eyes shut, all unable to move. In those 42 hours, Julia will deceive her parents by appearing as dead and will be laid with her previous ancestors until Friar Lawrence saves her. In the elopement above, Friar Lawrence destabilizes the stereotypical image of a friar through the fraudulence of families. While his intentions are good, the scene itself is anything but candid, his uncoerced choices against that of Lord Capulet’s. The friar does not appear as a judicious individual, e.g., his marriage of Romeo and Juliet, demonstrating his inability to contemplate the potential consequences of his actions affecting others. In conclusion, Juliet’s own choice to deceive her parents led to a separation with both them and her nurse. 

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Romeo and Juliet: A Tragedy Of Two Star-Crossed Lovers. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from
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