‘Love Is Stronger Than Hate’. Discuss This View Of ‘Romeo And Juliet’
The typical perception of Romeo and Juliet is that it is solely about love. However, upon reading the play, the reader discovers the volume of violent themes running throughout. For example, the play is littered with death and violent imagery. However, I believe that throughout, it is made clear that there is a fine line between such powerful emotions. This is shown by continually juxtaposing scenes of passion with scenes of hatred - even romantic scenes are littered with the constant foreshadowing of death. This is backed up when we read ‘Friar Lawrence’ warning Romeo and Juliet that “violent delights can lead to violent ends” and encourages them to “love moderately”. Through Friar Lawrence, William Shakespeare teaches us, perhaps because of a personal experience, that the line between love and hate is finer than what meets the eye. I think that Shakespeare is portraying that people love to hate each other.
Shakespeare opens the play in such a fashion that suggests hate and violence will be more powerful than love. Shakespeare opens his first act with a scene that displays the misogynistic world where love would have to be extremely powerful to survive. This is portrayed with two Capulet servants conversing with vulgar language. For example, Sampson talks about women when he says they are the “weaker vessel” who “are ever thrust to the wall”. This paints the picture of women as cargo ships – which are meant to be filled with cargo. Shakespeare is trying to show how Sampson believes he is compatible with any “vessel” he chooses. Perhaps this could also imply that he has a large ego and is so strong that he could “thrust” a whole boat. It’s possible that Shakespeare is using Sampson to symbolise men as products of their society and their ignorance to women and their rights. For example, he refers to them as a “pretty piece of flesh” showing them as to be thought of as slabs of meat, with the sole purpose of being abused. This is further backed up when he proclaims that he “will cut off their heads” – mutilating them; just like animals in a slaughtering house. However, it is most likely that Shakespeare is referring to the rape of virgin maids. It is probable that Shakespeare’s intentions of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (especially Act 1, Scene I [Extract 1]) were to hold up a mirror, as such, to his time’s society and to show to the people how impossible it must be to love in such a misogynistic world. How could love possibly prevail? Perhaps, Romeo and Juliet were metaphors for love and their death was to symbolise hatred’s triumph over love.
Hate is shown to prevail over love again in Act 3, Scene V, when Lord Capulet is expressing his shame for his daughter’s choice. When he says to Juliet “Hang thee young baggage! Disobedient wretch! I tell thee what: get thee to church o’ Thursday, or never after look me in the face”, it shows us the power of family honour and how his hate for the Montague family is blinding him so much that he cannot see his only...