‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a tragic love story about two young people who fall in love amidst the hatred between their respective families. Throughout the play love and hate are closely linked. Shakespeare links the two together in order to engage the audience and create emotion. Our hearts beat faster at the possibility that love will overcome all obstacles and that love will conquer all hate in the world. Our hearts feel like they will stop when we realise that love is lost and that the last goodbye is actually the last goodbye. Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ combines the themes of love and hate throughout the play so the audience is continually challenged with the concept of what will win love or hate. Will love conquer all or will hate be too strong for love to flourish. I have chosen a few scenes from the play to discuss and explore the relationship between love and hate that Shakespeare creates.
One of the first scenes (Act 1, Scene 1) is a fight between the Montague’s and Capulet’s servants. When Tybalt Capulet gets involved he states to Benvolio ‘What! Drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montague’s, and thee’, (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 67).These are strong and violent words that emphasis Tybalt’s hate towards the Montague’s. He compares his detestation of the Montague’s to be as strong as his hate for hell. Amongst the hatred he expresses in this scene, we are introduced to Romeo who is hopelessly devoted to loving Rosaline. He is so preoccupied fantasizing about love that he is oblivious to the fighting that is happening around him. Romeo as an individual in this play represents love. When he realises the chaos around him he only sees the love that must exist within each family for them to protect and support the respective members against the opposing family. This is shown when he states ‘Here’s much to do with hate, but more to do with love’, (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 173).
In a later scene (Act 1, Scene 5), Romeo and his friends Mercutio and Benvolio decide to attend the Capulet’s ball. Their choice to attend is driven by the hate that exists between them and the Capulet’s. They believe that by showing up, Romeo can make Rosaline jealous and bait Capulet into starting a mutiny at the feast, ‘Your lady’s love against some other maid, that I will show you shining at this feast, and she shall scant show well that now shows best’, (Act1, Scene 2, Line 97).No sooner do the Montague tribe arrive in their pursuit of spite, and then Romeo steals a glimpse of Lady Juliet. ‘O she doth teach the torches to burn bright… did my heart love till now? Foreswear it sight, for I never saw true beauty till this night’, (Act 1, Scene 5, line 43). Romeo is saying that Juliet’s beauty is so bright that she could teach the fire in a torch to burn. This scene is an example of how love can come from hate. Through their conversation at the ball, Shakespeare makes the audience focus on love despite the fact that the intension of attending the ball was led by hate.
Romeo and Juliet’s relationship develops when we are