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Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous and outstanding literal works of William Shakespeare. The play follows the fate of two families the Montague and Capulet who have had vendetta for as long as the play narrates. Shakespeare brings out a lot of themes through his genius work but one theme that runs throughout the play is the theme of love. Shakespeare manages to subtly emphasize on this theme in the face of hatred and animosity existing between the families.
Romeo the son of Lord Montague oblivious of the seriousness of the hatred between his family and the Capulet engages in a youthful peril by attending a party organized by Lord Capulet. Romeo and his friends Mercutio and Benvolio manage to attend the party unnoticed by putting on masks. Apparently even through his mask Romeo still manage to catch the glimpse of Juliet who he instantly falls in love with. The first love is so strong that on the same day they manage to confess love for each other. The love is so strong that Juliet even after finding out from the nurse that her newly found love is actually a Montague, still proclaims that it would not stop her from loving Romeo. This fact is clearly outlined when Juliet says that:
“My only love, sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me
That I must love a loathed enemy.” (I.5.139-142)
The play brings out the concept of true love when Romeo quickly refutes the love he felt for Rosaline his previous lover and even compares it to the moon that is quickly waning and being overtaken by the love he feels for Juliet; love that he compares to the sun when he says that:
“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou her maid are far more fair than she.” (II.2. 2-6)
The love between Romeo and Juliet soon grows but they both realize that they cannot express and nurture their love freely in the face of the hatred between their two families. They realize that their love could be the solution that can finally reconcile their families. Juliet says that:
“See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.”
They believe that their love is the solution without realizing that love is a sacrifice that will eventually cost them their lives. The extent of the hatred is so adverse that the only thing that can redeem them is love through sacrifice by death. The prince while addressing Lord Capulet and Lord Montague explains that since there was no other solution to the hatred between the two families the ‘heavens’ had no choice but use love that was so strong so as to consume the hatred. Prince says that:
“These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume.” (II.6.9-11)
The play ends on a rather sad and somber mood after the death of Romeo and Juliet. However there is relief eventually because the two families have finally reconciled. Love is sacrifice and in the play it was the lives of Romeo and Juliet and their love for one another that finally managed to replace the hatred between the two families with a chance to love.