Despite being hundreds of years old, Romeo and Juliet still packs a punch and is able to include several key themes throughout the play.
The Nature of Fate
Right from the beginning of the play, we are introduced to the idea of fate as Romeo and Juliet are described as star-crossed lovers. Throughout they are somehow able to divine their futures but neither of them seems to have the power to avoid them. When you consider everything that has to transpire to lead to their demise it really is a series of unfortunate events.
The Effects of Love
In Elizabethan, England love was associated with feminity. We see this reoccurring throughout the play as Romeo is unable to fight Tybalt because he believes his love for Juliet has made him effeminate.
Self Versus the State
The laws of the state suggest that fighting between the two houses are prohibited and yet we see those laws flouted by Mercutio and Tybalt in the name of their own honor and then Romeo in the name of revenge. We also see Juliet going against her father’s wishes to marry the man she loves. All of these decisions seem to have dire consequences.
Romeo and Juliet: Key Moments
There are several vital moments that make up the play. These are key because they move the plot towards its ending.
- Prince Escalus announces that any further civil unrest will lead to the death sentence. This sets up early in the play a situation that is probably going to come to the fore.
- Romeo and Juliet meet. Obviously, if this does not occur then they would not fall in love. However, this is destined to happen as we found out from the prologue. You also have to wonder if they didn’t meet would the ancient grudge ever have truly ended. Does the deaths of Romeo and Juliet serve a greater purpose?
- Romeo and Juliet declare their love for one another. The balcony scene is one of the most iconic in the play and has some of the play’s best-known lines including the iconic, “wherefore art thou Romeo?”.
- Romeo and Juliet marry – obviously, this is significant as marriage was far more sacred in Elizabethan England than it is in modern society.
- Tybalt kills Mercutio which leads to himself being killed by Romeo which results in Romeo being banished. This is the chain of events that leads Juliet to come up with her plan to fake her own death which tragically backfires.
- Capulet promises Juliet to Paris. This forces Juliet to take action that eventually leads to her demise.
- Juliet plans to fake her death so she can be with Romeo. On the face of it, this is a good plan unfortunately it is badly executed.
- Balthazar tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. This leads Romeo on a mission to be with her and end his own life.
- Romeo and Juliet die. Tragically if Juliet had woken a few minutes earlier or if Romeo’s fight with Paris had lasted longer then this end might not have played out. This really shows the nature of fate in this play.