William Shakespeare’s famous play, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was initially written in 1595 during the Renaissance period. The play is recognized as one of the greatest tragedies. The play is about two star-crossed lovers, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, separated due to a long-established feud between their families. Feuding is a long-standing state of conflict that is often between two families.
Feuds begin with one party feeling attacked, insulted, wronged, or injured by another. Throughout the play, the young couple faces numerous obstacles that ultimately result in a fatal conclusion of the protagonists’ untimely deaths. The suicides of Romeo and Juliet are caused by the force of feuding between the house of Montague and the house of Capulet.
Tybalt Capulet’s actions towards Romeo and the house of Montague contribute to the passing of the young couple. Tybalt, throughout the play, is presented as obsessed with vengeance and fighting; He is consumed by his deep hatred towards the house of Montague due to the long-established feud between the two families.
This is first shown in Act 1, Scene 1, lines 63-65, when Tybalt says, “What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward.” This reinforces Tybalt’s obsession and subsequently results in his rage-driven goal of initiating a physical fight between him and Romeo, due to Romeo’s appearance at the Capulet’s masquerade party.
When he recognizes Romeo in Act 1, Scene 5, lines 87-90, Tybalt states, “Patience perforce with willful choler meeting makes my flesh tremble in their different greeting. I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall now seeming sweet, convert to bitterest gall.” In this context, the word choler refers to hot anger. Tybalt significantly impacts the outcome of Romeo and Juliet’s fatal love story. Tybalt’s death triggers the banishment of Romeo and ultimately results in the couple devising the devastating plan that would cause their untimely deaths.
Another character whose actions towards the feud between the house of Montague and the house Capulet result in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet is the Prince. The Prince’s response towards the ongoing feud is first shown in Act 1, Scene 1, lines 82-90; the Prince states, “Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word, by thee, old Capulet, and Montague, have thrice disturbed the quiet streets… if you ever disturb our streets again, your lives shall forfeit of the peace.”
The Prince makes this statement because of a conflict between two Capulet servants and a Montague servant which would escalate to a fight between Benvolio Montague and Tybalt Capulet. In this quote, it displays how the feuding between the two families sets up and foreshadows the plot of Romeo’s banishment.
After Tybalt is slain by Romeo, the Prince states in Act 3, Scene 1, lines 182-185, “And for that offense immediately we do exile him hence. I have an interest in your hearts’ proceeding. My blood for your rude brawls doth lie a-bleeding.” This quote is about Romeo’s exile due to the death of Tybalt and Mercutio, the Prince’s nephew, being killed as the result of the bloody feud.
The Prince displays mercy to Romeo by exiling him instead of being executed. However, the Prince’s delayed response to the long-lasting feud between the two families provides the impetus of the plot of Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden love story, which will result in the tragic conclusion.
Another example that contributes to the feud and results in the fatal consequences of Romeo and Juliet’s suicide are Juliet’s parents and their reactions towards the Montagues. Lord Capulet and Lady Capulet, throughout the play, voice their aversion to the Montagues.
This is first shown when Lord Capulet states in Act 1, Scene 1, lines 70-71, “My sword, I say! Old Montague is come, and flourishes his blade in spite of me.” The dispute between the two families causes them to keep their romance a secret. When Romeo is exiled, Juliet is left distraught and is due to be married off to Count Paris though she will not go through with it.
This is shown when she states in Act 4, Scene 1, lines “And with this knife I’ll help it presently… I long to die if what thou speak’st speak not of remedy.” In this quote, Juliet expresses how she would rather kill herself than be married to Count Paris because of her loyalty and love for Romeo. The feud between the Capulets and Montagues causes the couple to be forced into secrecy and devise the weakly thought-out plan resulting in their suicides.
The play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a tragedy because the protagonists, Romeo and Juliet faced with the difficult situation of their feuding families that would lead to their avoidable deaths. The couple’s sad ending could have been avoided if Tybalt’s deep hatred toward Montagues hadn’t triggered the fight between him and Romeo that would cause Romeo’s exile.
The Prince’s reaction to the feuding between the house of Montague and the house of Capulet sets up the plot of Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden love story and Romeo’s banishment. The feud between the Capulets and Montagues forces the young couple to keep their relationship a secret. These examples of feuding in Romeo and Juliet can be considered to be significant factors in the suicides of Romeo and Juliet.