Romeo And Juliet Hatred Essay

Romeo and Juliet Theme of Hate

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If you've ever had a bad breakup, you know how quickly love can turn into something a lot less warm and fuzzy. In Romeo and Juliet, love and hate are just two sides of the same coin—both are intense emotions that, as Benvolio says, get the "mad blood stirring" (3.1.4). When the hatred between the Montagues and Capulets finally drives the lovers to their tragic deaths, it seems like love might finally triumph over hate—but if they're just two sides of the same coin, then can this kind of passionate love even exist without hate?

Questions About Hate

  1. Why do the Montagues hate the Capulets? What do we know about the family feud?
  2. How do Romeo and Juliet each respond when they realize they have fallen in love with the "enemy"?
  3. Rosaline, like Juliet, is a member of the Capulet family, but when Romeo crushes on Rosaline, he never worries about the family feud getting in the way of his love. Why is that?
  4. Does the older generation (the parents of Romeo and Juliet) have the same attitude toward the family feud as the younger generation (Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, Mercutio)?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Love as passionate as Romeo and Juliet's could only be born out of hatred; their love is made more intense because of their families' feud.

In the play, love and hate are both intense. The language Shakespeare uses to depict love and hate shows that the two passions are deeply similar.

ABRAHAM
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON
I do bite my thumb, sir.

ABRAHAM
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON, aside to Gregory
 Is the law of our side, if I
say "Ay"?

GREGORY, aside to Sampson
No.

SAMPSON
No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir,
but I bite my thumb, sir. (1.1.45-52)

Okay, what is going on here? Basically, thumb biting, which involves biting and then flicking one's thumb from behind the upper teeth, is a Shakespearean version of flipping someone the bird. Now, Sampson (a Capulet servant) doesn't have a good reason to insult the Montagues' servants—he's just looking to stir up trouble because his masters are feuding with the Montagues, but probably more because he's bored. Plus, Sampson's too much of a coward to own up to his silly gesture because the "law" won't be on his "side" if his thumb biting causes a big old brawl (he doesn't want to get busted for causing a fracas). What's the point of all this? Well, the Capulet/Montague feud, which has obviously trickled down to involve their servants, is completely absurd. Just like Sampson's thumb biting.

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