Romeo And Juliet: Generational Perspectives Essay, Research Paper
Throughout western literature, the works of William Shakespeare are renowned fortheir portrayal and explanation of conceptual themes associated with human nature. Ofthe 17th century poet s works, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet aptly displays subtleconceptions and meaningful ideologies that explain 15th century Italian society. Throughout Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare primarily focuses upon explaining thecontrasting concept of love for which the play is best known. However, if analyzed,Shakespeare also provides and explains other less visible themes including civil order and moral values . Because Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy based upon an ill-fated loveconflicted by a blood feud and parental dispute, the perspectives regarding Shakespeare sthemes fluctuate between generations. In order to better understand Shakespeare spresented ideologies, it is imperative to perceive the difference of opinion that existbetween the generations of Romeo and Juliet s families. Throughout the text, the concept of love is the primary focus of the story sfoundation. Shakespeare adequately displays and describes the diverse stages andperspectives of love through Romeo and Juliet s budding young romance and through theolder generation of their parents. Dating back to the beginning of European order and society, the primary objectiveof man was to marry off his daughters in order to keep his social dignity alive with theassurance of future generations. During this time, society developed a unique conceptionand devised a system for love, courtship, and marriage that is quite the opposite of ourown modern version. The main interest of the father was to find a suitable husband for his daughterwhen she became of courting age. Instead of keeping the daughter s opinion anddisposition in mind, he chose her mate in accordance to his social and economic wealth. Categorized into the conventional aspects of love, it is essentially the sort of dutifulaffection required by the social institution of the arranged marriage. Love was not forimmediate attraction but was intended to develop and progress with time. Passionate andmutual attractions were not considered but only focused around the dutiful andconventional aspects of the families s social position. This concept of conventional love isfirst seen through the dialogue between Paris and Capulet: Paris: . . . But now, my lord, what say you to my suit? Capulet: But saying o er what I have said before. My child is but a stranger in the world. She hath not seen the change of fourteen years. Let two more summers wither in their pride Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride. This conception of conventional love is accepted and practiced throughout thisculture not only by the dominating male populace but also by the women. This dutifulrequirement expected by all young maidens is best presented though the conversationbetween Juliet, her mother, and the nurse: Lady Capulet: Marry, that marry is the very theme I came to talk of. Tell me, daughter Juliet, How stands your disposition to be married? Juliet: It is an honor that I dream not of. Nurse: An honor? Were not I thine only nurse, I would say thou hadst sucked wisdom from Thy teat. Lady Capulet: Well, think of marriage now. Younger than You Here in Verona, ladies of esteem, are you Made already mothers. By my count I was Your mother much upon these years that you Now a maid. Thus, then, in brief: the valiant Paris seeks you for his love. The adult generation of Verona displays a respect for the conventional conceptionof love which provides a foundation for their social and governmental order. However,both Romeo and Juliet are Shakespeare s example of true young love which stands outsharply against a background of sensuality, Petrarchan affectation, and marriageconventionality. Like many adolescents, Romeo and Juliet are in a state of rebelliousness whichdefines their spontaneous character and helps to display Shakespeare s conception ofyoung love. Quite unconventional, Romeo and Juliet feel they have to overcome giantobstacles, motivating them to partake on a romantic escapade which defies the blood feudthat typifies a romantic defiance of parental wishes. Romeo and Juliet s attraction is based upon a passionate, hasty, rash, andessentially spontaneous, unpredictable, and notorious relationship. Instead of looking atlove as a dutiful requirement for social perseverance, Romeo and Juliet see love asrecreation and in some cases a complicated game . The depth, trust, and compatibility of their relationship are at different degreesthan that of their parents. Because their love is a mutual commitment, the conceptionsthat define true love are indifferent from the older generation that determines the fateof their relationship. Instead of learning to love each other as they grow old, Romeo andJuliet s relationship progressed into an intimate and close relationship by mutual consent. Starting out as a physical infatuation, the relationship eventually progressed into a senseof mutual trust and emotional involvement. This analysis of mutual commitment andcompatibility is brone out by their actions, including lengthy displays of affection in theform of speeches, and intense spontaneous acts of love. The intense effects of their wording toward each other is best described through thispassage: Romeo: Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear, That tipe with silver all these fruit-trees tops Juliet: O, swear not by the moon, th inconstant moon, That monthly changes in her circle orb, Lest that love prove likewise variable. Romeo: What shall I swear by? Romeo: Do not sear at all . . . The deep and unconventional aspects of their relationship is best displayed asRomeo is banished from Verona upon killing Tybalt in the violent street fight between theCapulets and the Montagues. Having his execution compromised by the Friar, he istherefore, banished and displays his true affections toward Juliet described through thispassage: Romeo: Tis torture and not mercy. Heaven is here where Juliet lives, and every cat and dog and little mouse, Every unworthy thing, live here in heaven and May look on her, but Romeo may not. More Validity, more honorable state, more courtship Lives in carrion flies than Romeo. they may Seize on the white wonder of Dear Juliet s hand And steal immortal blessing from her Lips, who Even pure and vestal modesty still blush, as Thinking their own kisses in; but Romeo may Not; he Is banished. Flies may do this, but I am From this Must fly. They are free men, but I am Banished. And Sayest thou yet that exile is not Death? Hadst thou no poison mixed, no sharp-Ground knife, no sudden Mean of death, though Ne er so mean, but banished to kill me? Banished ? O Friar, the damned use That word In hell. Howling attends it. How hast thou the Heart, being diving, a ghostly confessor, a sin Absolver, and my friend professed, to mangle me With That word banished ? The differences in the generational perspectives regarding love are quite apparentthrough the traditional ways of their culture and through Romeo and Juliet sunconventional romance. As their parents confide and trust the ancient tradition ofmarital courtship and marriage, Romeo and Juliet embark on a love whose foundation isbased on mutual commitment and attraction. Like most young adolescents, the star-crossed lovers are getting their first experiences of adulthood and responsibility. Beingshielded by their parents and society, Romeo and Juliet s indifference to their parentsopinion is driven by an emotional and mutual commitment to be together. As love is the initial theme and focus of Shakespeare s Romeo and Juliet, the civilorder of Verona society and the character s demeanor are just as diverse in nature. Justas the various stages and conceptions of love are affected by the diversity of generationalperspectives, the social behavior and civil order in their society also fluctuates betweengenerations. As introduced in the prologue, the blood feud is the foundation for the story s plotwhich create conflicts between the two families and the unconventional romance of Romeoand Juliet. The theme is vigorously established in the opening scene in a quarrel whicherupts into a riot involving not just the Capulets and the Montagues but the entire town. The feud and the disruptive civil order in Verona is primarily motivated by thearrogance and malice displayed by the Capulets and the Montagues. Their immense pride,belligerence, and need to destroy each other is eminently described through their actionsand behaviors, resulting in social disruption and street quarrels throughout Verona. Though the older generation of Capulets and Montagues have a responsibleattitude toward the concept of love , they cease to have such a view toward civil order. This arrogance and belligerence displayed by both the Capulets and the Montagues is bestdescribed through this passage: Capulet: What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!
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Lady Capulet: A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword? Capulet: My sword, I say. Old Montague is come and flourishes his blade in spite of me. Montague: Thou villain Capulet! Hold me not; let me go. Lady Montague: Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe. The feud between Capulet and Montague heavily contributes to Verona s lack ofsocial order, however, the continuation of the feud may be in part attributed to a qualityof the Prince s character which would have been called weakness by Renaissancestandards. Ceasing to end the feud by living up to his threats of death to any civildisruption, he endanger his governing abilities. Being a member of the older generation,the Prince is essentially just as responsible for the civil disruption as the feudersthemselves. Just as Romeo and Juliet have a different perspective than their parents concerningmutual love, they see through the hostility and irrationality which is resulted from theolder generations behavior. Romeo and Juliet s tranquil attitude is primarily driven behind the fact that theirmain concern is the love they share. Ceasing to find the relevance to their families prideand arrogance, their only concern is to be together, regardless of the feud that contributesto their ill-fated death. Their concerns are best described throughout this passages as theyquestion the relevance toward the bloody feud that separates them: Juliet: O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny Thy father and refuse thy name, or, if thou Wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I ll no longer Be a Capulet. Romeo: Shall I hear more, or shall I speak this? Juliet: Tis but thy name that is my enemy. Thou art Thyself, though not a Montague. What s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor Face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O, Be some other name! What s in a name? That Which we call a rose by any other word would Smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he Owes without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, And for thy name, which is no part of thee, take All myself. The question of relevance pertaining to the two generations are aptly portrayedthrough the violent feud between the opposing families and the generational differencesresulting from it. As their parents find it imperative to keep their social dignity and pridealive, Romeo and Juliet cease to find applicable relevance to he violence and pain broughtupon the community. Like most young adolescents who find it hard to understand thelogic of their parents, Romeo and Juliet cease to share their parent s hostility, as they aremore concerned with the future and success of their relationship Throughout the story, Shakespeare emphasizes the initial concept of love anddescribes consequences created by the family feud. Like most great works of literature, lesspresented themes, though equally important are created. Initially, the concept of moralvalues is created as a result of civil behavior and Verona society. Just as the generationalperspectives between Romeo and Juliet and their parents fluctuate regarding love and civil order , their outlook upon moral values is indifference as well. Being conventional and devoted Catholics, the Capulets, the Montagues, andVerona society expect that younger and future generations will abide by their social,governmental, and moral laws that compose their society. Just as the older generationhave their views concerning love and martial courtship, they expect the same respect intheir children s moral values. Capulet, his wife, and the Juliet s nurse all display Shakespeare s 15th centuryconception of youthful demeanor in Italian society. As Juliet becomes of courting age, sheis expected to follow the wishes of her parents and marry the most eligible suitor for thefamilies s overall wealth. The offspring of this generation are expected to abide by therules of the church while disregarding their personal opinions. The moral conceptions ofthe older generation believes are best described through this passage: It is almost ironic in a sense that the older generation expects its children to abideby the rules of society, when they participate in violent and senseless behavior that exceedappropriate proportions. Romeo and Juliet feel mistreated and neglected as theirhypocritical parents. Because they re love is eternal and devoted, they feel the only way tobe with each other is to compromise they re parents logic and expel the demeanor ofsociety. As Romeo kills Tybalt in vengeance of his own friend s murder, he is banishedfrom Verona sheltered from Juliet. Aside from disobeying the rules of society as shemarried Romeo in secrecy, Juliet not only goes against her parent s wishes to marry Paris,but defies her religion, by considering and acting out suicide. This decisions of Julietdisplays the true pain and suffering she experiences in Romeo s absence. Juliet scontroversial decisions are best described through this passage: Farewell. God knows when we shall meet again. I Have a faint cold fear thrills though my veins that Almost freezes upon the heat of life. I ll call them back Again to comfort me. Nurse! What should she do Here? My dismal scene I needs must act alone. Come, vial. What if this mixture do not work at all? Shall I be married then tomorrow morning? [She takes out her knife and puts it down beside her.] No, no, this shall forbid it. Lie thou there. The fundamentals of moral values Verona society between generations are quitediverse in nature. As the older generation is quite concerned with their children sobedience, they themselves partake in immoral acts of violence according to their religiousrules. Thinking their parent s behavior inappropriate and irrational, Romeo and Julietdisregard the enforced rules of society. Just as our heritage is passed down through generation to generation so arefoundational and philosophies ideas that define human nature. Throughout the evolutionof man, as technology and daily functions changes, the basic and essential fundamentalsthat make up our society have essentially remained the same throughout time. Humannature and beavhior doesn t necessarily change throughout time but merely the conditionsand environments that such behaviors are exposed to. Just as Shakespeare describes andportrays common adolescent challenges and conflicts in Italian society, the basicrenditions of these themes and concepts hold true today in our own modern culture. Romeo and Juliet s indifferent perspectives of their parents regarding their love continues its inital consequences and fundamental aspects in today s culture. The timelesssituation of lovers who s relationship can never have mutual parental blessing are found intoday s society as well as that of Verona, Italy, in the late fourteen hundreds. Manyadolescents of today feel neglected when it comes to young love, as their parents frequentlydissaprove of their selection amongst available friends to form romantic relationships. Through Shakespeare s conception toward this ongoing conflict between parents and childis quite overblown where a deep intimate relationship who s acquaitance turns to marriageand death in only a matter of days, his inital display of young love is quite accurateaccording to the timeless rendition of human nature. Along with the commonality expressed through love thoughout generationalgrowth, the difference of opinion and views regarding civil order are quite common intoday s society as well as during the Italian Renaissance. As Americans have the right tofree speech and personal opinion, the differences residing within parent and child opinionsregarding civil order exist in today s society. Quite apparent in the 1960’s with theVietnamese War, young generations of peace embuing activists protested a war theythought to be immoral by their conception. Through this prime example, the oldergeneration had a much different perspective for which they saw the Vietnamese War as away to control the ever increasing threat of wold wide Communism, and essentially wasused for the best interests of national security. Just as the youthful citizens of Verona sawthe blood feud as pointless and irrelovent, our modern culture has brought up a youthfulgeneration who seeks to voice their opinion of civil order throughout our society. Just as the perspectives of love and civil order fluctuate between generations in15th century Italian and modern society, the conceptions of moral values are also areasof indifference between generations throughout society. Because Romeo and Juliet faceduniqute challenges in their relationship, they were forced to question their parent s andsociety s views of appropriate moral behavior. Sheltered from each other because of aviolent blood feud between the two families, they were forced to drastically decide theirfate by going up against society. Disobeying their parents and commiting suicide, Romeoand Juliet committed serious sins considered by the older generation, however, theyinterpreted their actions as a last resort for supereme happiness. Just as Romeo and Julietquestioned their parent s and society s relevance for their own behavior and actions, manyof today s youth and I for one have often pondered as to whether my parent s or societies behavior is entierely appropriate. Of these examples, adults frequently point out thatchildren are misbehaved and lacking any moral value in society, however, everyone in thiscountry has seriously considered their parental generation s relevancy when brought uponthe question of recent behavioral actions that have taken place in our nation s capital. Fullblowing a sex scandal against the most highly respected and powerful man in thecountry, our nations leaders created a mockery of our governmental and societalinfostructure. As the generations of 15th century Verona, Italy had unique indifferences ofopinion and perspectives upon the world around them, our own culture portrays suchmodern renditions of these concepts though our everyday lives. By better understandingthe initial concepts that William Shakespeare displayed and explained throughout hispoetic masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet, our modern culture could further imbue from itsportrayl of timeless human nature.