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How does Shakespeare depict conflict in Romeo and Juliet? You must consider language, form and structure and refer to the context of the play.
Conflict is one of the many ways shakespeare used to spice up the play of Romeo and Juliet. Not to mention that conflict is a recurring theme within the play as it intertwines with several other themes to importantly show the relationship of conflict to tragedy. He explores conflict to bring the significance of tragedy within the play, this can be observed that the idea of conflict has been dispersed throughout the play. This can be seen as when conflicts build up and unveil itself in a chain till the death of Romeo and Juliet, this intensifies what Shakespeare depicts the conflict as a means of proving the worth of conflict in the play. Since the play of Romeo and Juliet was set In Verona, during the Renaissance period, it was the rebirth of Art and beauty, showcasing nobility, humility, and dignity. Nevertheless, Shakespeare pictures Verona with satire as it is shown in Romeo and Juliet to be full of conflict and turmoil.
Shakespeare has done this in many different unique ways by exploiting means of language, form, writing techniques and structure to further develop the conflicts. He uses social norms and expectations to set the atmosphere of the overall play, yet he utilizes different character to further set up the conflict. While he coats his conflict with paradoxical ideas to create contrasts and it foreshadows the conflict that takes place behind the scene. And lastly, Shakespeare explores conflict in many different elements, such as setting up the prologue and the context. However, his purposes for doing that so is that to bring the continuity of 2 different ideas and to collide them for the sole purpose of creating tension. Additionally, all of this was done to amplify the conflict and to delineate the conflict in the play.
The conflict was immediately introduced in the form of a prologue. We are told in the prologue that there is 2 family with high class who had a never-ending conflict through the words of “ancient grudge” and this will bring “ new mutiny”. Whereas, it also implicitly implies there is conflict among the innocents as through the warring conflict of the family brings people to immorality and to join the conflict as this is told by the prologue that “ Civil blood makes civil hands unclean“. What the prologue indicates that that the conflict between the family is so brutal that it must take the death of the children to stop it, signifying the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.
Notably, Shakespeare has used several techniques to enhance the idea of conflict in the play. To emphasize some of the remarkable techniques that Shakespeare used, was the use of word choice. This can be observed when Mercutio was stabbed by Tybalt, Mercutio sends out a curse to both family. The use of the word plague in Mercutio ascending death speech “ A plague o' both your houses! “ foreshadows that something dreadful will happen because of the death of Mercutio, as seen later in the play that Frar Laurence was unable to send the message to Romeo was because of the plague.
Moreover, another use of language that Shakespeare used was irony mainly in the form of satire. This is effectively shown in Prince Escalus speech where he proclaims that “ If you ever cause a disturbance on our streets again, you’ll pay for it with your lives “ this shows that whoever causes another fight will be killed. Surprisingly when romeo bestows upon Tybalt to murder him. Prince Escalus had only banished him instead of killing him. This shows that Prince Escalus had contradicted himself and gave Romeo mercy, this clearly communicates the conflict of law as Prince Escalus didn’t kill Romeo because he was of high class and that there is corruption within the system.
Shakespeare uses a combination of imagery and oxymoron to display Juliet’s Inner conflict. When Romeo kills Tybalt, Juliet was unable to choose whose to side be on at first, because she loved her husband and her cousin. In the proceeding soliloquy, she discovers herself in whether to accept Romeo by using series of oxymoron such as “ O serpent heart hid with a flowering face” implicating that he is a traitor hidden inside an angel. Also, Juliet self-inner conflict ends when she gives in to her husband and that she has to confront that “ My only love sprung from my only hate! “ where these 2 ideas contradict each other to show that Juliet knows that she cannot change her love when she really should change.
What plays a major factor in conflict is the culture behind it, it is the root of all conflict within Romeo and Juliet. For an example, in the Patriarchal Elizabethan society, one’s masculinity should not be taken for granted and that it should be honored for its own solidity. So when, the servants start the brawl by biting their thumb, “ Do you bite your thumb at us, sir ?” and they have to contain their masculinity as it was such a big deal especially when one says “ Draw if you be men!”. This also prolongs the conflict between Romeo and Tybalt, as Tybalt insults Romeo to a duel, yet Romeo refuses to duel, thus Mercutio steps in to defend Romeo’s masculinity.
Likewise, another culture context is that women were under siege by men, and by law, they had to listen to their male counterparts or lord. So when Lord Capulets tell Juliet to marry Count Paris. Instead, she refused to do so. This caused a conflict between them where their relationships worsen as Lord Capulets threatens to disown her like “Graze...hang, beg, starve, die in the streets”, so she temporarily agreed.
Lastly, Shakespeare's use of motif or contrasting ideas by the use of juxtaposition is likely the reason why there is conflict. For an instance, the idea between Peace vs Violence can be seen between the characters, we can clearly see that Tybalt is shown as an aggressive character as he hates the word “ peace “ and that he threatens Benvolio with “ Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death“. So when he duels against Benvolio, who shows himself as a peaceful person, it shows clarity to why they should fight. This ideology also goes hand to hand when Tybalt challenges Romeo who is also a righteous person.
Nonetheless, the idea of Love vs Hate was apparent from the prologue. When juliet finds out that Romeo is a Montague when she says “ I must love a loathed enemy “ . This intensifies the reason why the conflict of the family got intense, as they are rivals and that that society would not have expected that. Therefore, loving the enemy would surely give a reason why conflict is bound to happen.
In conclusion, Shakespeare had a hindsight when he was creating Romeo and Juliet as he used various forms of conflict to make it the most fundamental subject of the play. By exploring figurative language, and structure, along with contrasting ideas. He was successful in bringing the idea of conflict and inflict a greater learning moral towards the audience, that there will be sacrifices, as the death of both lovers was the sacrifice stop the warring feud.