Romeo & Juliet: Themes and Essay Topics

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Romeo & Juliet: Themes and Essay Topics

Post by Rachid Amri on Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:33 pm

Themes, Applications, and Essays
How does Romeo and Juliet apply to teenagers today? Well, first of all, it can be seen simply as an entertaining story. Itís a
tragic love story between two teenagers. But, if you look into the themes of the play, you will see that there are many lessons
we can learn from the two doomed lovers. Shakespeare Alive provides this teaching resource that shows how the play is
applicable to teenagers today. Another resource from the Shakespeare Alive page is a Romeo and Juliet role play.

Theme 1- LOVE

Love plays an important role in Romeo and Juliet. Throughout the play, one can analyze the different types of love that
Shakespeare explores. First, there is lustful love. This is basically love for the purpose of sexual pleasure. First shown in the
conversation between Sampson and Gregory, this type of love is also illustrated by the Nurse and her comments to Juliet. The
second type of love is infatuation. Romeo thinks heís in love and moans over Rosaline. How many people can relate to that?
Much of teenage love is simply in the head--- you think that you have found the "only one," when youíve really only found an
obsession. The third type of love is the one illustrated with Paris. In the play, this has to do with the fact that marriages were
arranged. Paris is the guy that Julietís parents think is fit for her. In todayís society, Paris can be seen as the stereotypical guy
(or girl). He/She seems perfect and your parents love him/her, but that isnít love. Love is not an image; itís a commitment.

Finally, we come to true, 100% pure love. When Romeo meets Juliet, he knows that sheís different. Love changes people.
Romeo became a more passionate, eager person and Juliet became more independent. Most importantly, love lasts through
hardships. Love is not just a feeling; it is something that a person is willing to do something for. In the extreme case of Romeo
and Juliet, they were each willing to die for each other--- that is love. Their love was so strong that they were willing to go
against years of hatred between their families and try to make things work.

Now the warning: donít rush out and marry some guy/girl that you meet at a party. Donít forget that Romeo and Juliet are
dead. Romeo and Juliet is a story. But the lessons of love do hold true: love is not self-seeking, obsessive, or based on
appearances. Love is shown through actions.

Theme 2- HATE

The role of hatred also plays an important role in Romeo and Juliet. The hatred between the Montagues and Capulets ends up
killing their only two children. And what was this hate for? Nothing. It was just an ancient feud that no one bothered ending. If
the two families had just stopped feuding earlier, the lives of the two lovers could have been saved. Hatred never leads up to
any good. Shakespeare tells us that it is senseless in fighting with someone just for the sake of fighting. This is an everlasting
lesson.

Theme 3- FATE

Romeo and Juliet were "star-crossed lovers," as the prologue at the start of the play indicated. They had fate against them. In
that time, people were very wary of what the stars said. If two peopleís stars were crossed in the sky, they would never remain
together. Obviously, Romeo and Juliet didnít live happily ever after, as their death in the end showed. But there were many
unfortunate happenings that led up to their death. Fate was not on their side. First of all, Romeo only met Juliet by chance. Only
because the Capulet servant was blind and unable to read the list of guests, Romeo was allowed into the ball. By unfortunate
chance, Romeo and Juliet fell in love before they realized that they were from opposing families. After Romeo and Julietís
marriage, Romeo did not want to fight Tybalt. But because Tybalt killed Mercutio, Romeo demanded revenge. Things still
might have worked out between the two lovers. After enough time passed, Romeo and Juliet could tell their families what
happened and Romeo could return to Verona. But, Julietís parents want her to marry Paris. The Friar concocts another plan.
He gives Juliet a drug that will make her appear dead for 42 hours. However, fate is not on their side again. The letter sent by
the Friar never reaches Romeo because of a quarantine. The Friar arrives too late to stop Romeo from killing himself. Juliet
awakes only minutes after Romeo has died. The list is long, illustrating the power of fate in the case of Romeo and Juliet. Do we
believe in fate today? Or do things happen because we cause them to? Some people believe that it is a combination of the two.

Literary Technique- FORESHADOWING

Basically, everyone can figure out what is going to happen to Romeo and Juliet. The prologue states that the "star-crossed
lovers take their life." But as the play progresses, there are many subtle clues that confirm the fact that Romeo and Juliet will
die. This is the literary device known as foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is the use of symbols to show what will happen in the
future. Some examples:

Act 1, scene 4 Romeo gets a bad feeling before going to the Capulet ball.

I fear, too early: for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night's revels and expire the term
Of a despised life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.

Act 2, scene 3 The Friar warns Romeo about rushing into things.

Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.

Act 3, scene 1 Mercutio is stabbed, insisting that heís fine.

No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a
church-door; but 'tis enough,'twill serve: ask for
me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man.

Act 3, scene 5 Juliet looking down on Romeo from her bedroom

O God, I have an ill-divining soul!
Methinks I see thee, now thou art below,
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb:
Either my eyesight fails, or thou look'st pale.

Act 4, scene 3 Juliet is getting worries over the Friarís plan. Should she take the drug?

What if it be a poison, which the friar
Subtly hath minister'd to have me dead,
Lest in this marriage he should be dishonour'd,
Because he married me before to Romeo?
I fear it is: and yet, methinks, it should not,
For he hath still been tried a holy man Ö

These are only a few examples of foreshadowing in Romeo and Juliet.

Essay Topics:

Romeo and Juliet has high dramatic moments. Choose a few of these and describe the role of suspense in them.
Choose a character (other than Romeo and Juliet) who had an important role in the play. Describe and examine the characterís decisions and how they affected the outcome of the play.
Describe and analyze the different types of love portrayed in the play.
Compare and contrast the personalities of Romeo and Juliet.
In your opinion, was Lord Capulet a good father? Support your statement.
What role does fate play in Romeo and Juliet and what role does the charactersí choices play?
Explain the role of disorder and hatred in Romeo and Juliet and give its consequences.
Show how timing played an important role in the play. Give examples.
Explain the role of foreshadowing in the play. Give examples.
Make your own adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet can be anything from rival figure skaters (as my friend did) to pigs on a farm. Just be creative!

Rachid Amri
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Romeo and Juliet: Theme Analysis

Post by eyat allah dammak on Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:02 pm

Love, in its many forms, is an important theme in the play. The Nurse and Mercutio speak in vulgar terms about love, referring to its physical side. Romeo's love for Rosaline is simply superficial, childish infatuation. Paris represents a contractual love. He does not actually know Juliet, just her family and what she represents. He is marrying a name, not a person. Juliet questions Romeo at first as to his intentions, the type of love he has to offer. The love between Romeo and Juliet is a spiritual, romantic love. Is Romeo and Juliet's love the superior form? They alone die for their love.

Another important theme is the duality Friar Lawrence speaks of. Romeo and Juliet are both lovers and enemies. The Nurse and the Friar both try to help the lovers but ultimately, Romeo and Juliet suffer. The deaths of Romeo and Juliet themselves are a notable example of this duality. Their suffering and deaths are tragic however, without them, their families would not have stopped feuding. Verona was torn by the hatred between the two families. The sacrifice made by the lovers allows everyone to begin healing old wounds.

Fate plays an important role in Romeo and Juliet. Romeo feels that he cannot control the course of his life. He speaks out to whoever directs [his] sail (I.4) Does fate actually control the course of events or does everyone play a part? If Juliet had not made such a show of obedience, Capulet may not have changed the wedding date. If there had been more time, Friar John may have managed to get the message to Romeo in time and he would not have killed himself in Juliet's tomb. If Mercutio hadn't jumped into a fight with Tybalt, he wouldn't have been killed. He may also have survived if Romeo had not stepped between them. In either case, Tybalt and Romeo probably wouldn't have fought, Tybalt wouldn't have been killed, and Romeo wouldn't have been banished. There are several events that could have ended differently if someone had acted in just a slightly different manner or arrived just a moment earlier / later. Can this be blamed on fate?

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