Literary Analysis of Romeo and Juliet Essay

This essay is a literary analysis of the play Romeo and Juliet. Its format is Point, Proof and Explanation. The question was “What factors and/or characters lead to the eventual demise of Romeo and Juliet” I used the characters of Lady and Lord Capulet, Juliets Nurse, and Friar Laurence. There are direct quotes from the play as well relevant ones. The essay is 929 words in length.

Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet presents readers with the story of a tragically doomed love.

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It is the story of two teenagers who fall in love and the people and circumstances that prevent them from being together. Four characters in particular, namely Lady and Lord Capulet, Juliet’s nurse, and Friar Laurence, played a significant role in the destruction of the main characters and young lovers, Romeo and Juliet. These characters, through acts of selfishness, betrayal and authority over the young lovers led to their desperate actions and ultimate death.

Lady and Lord Capulet, Juliet’s mother and father contributed to the events leading to the demise of Romeo and Juliet right from the beginning of the play.

Juliet’s father, Lord Capulet, creates a façade about how much he loves and cares for his daughter when in reality he demonstrates that he really does not have her best interest at heart. In the beginning of the play, Lord Capulet says to Paris, (the nephew of the prince of Verona, who would bring the Capulet family power and prestige if he marries Juliet):

“My child is yet a stranger in the world,

she hath not seen the change of fourteen years;

Let two more summers wither in their pride,

Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.”

(II, ii, 8-11).

This gives the reader the impression of a caring and considerate father, who is concerned about his child’s well being and acknowledges that she is too
young to be married. Yet, by the end of the play, when Juliet stands up to her father and says she does not want to marry Paris, he becomes angry with her and says “…Disobedient wretch!/I tell thee what, get thee to church o’Thursday [to marry Paris]/Or never after look me in the face”(III, v, 160-163). Lord Capulet is showing his true feelings toward his daughter and shows the reader that his real motives are self-serving. Lady Capulet, Juliet’s mother also assists in the destruction of Romeo and Juliet by her shallow and self-centered nature. She believes that Juliet should marry Paris, not for love or happiness, but because Paris is wealthy and handsome and will bring the Capulet family more power and prestige.

When Lady Capulet says “And find delight writ there with beauty’s pen./ Examine every married lineament,/ And see how one another lends content” (I, iii, 82-85) she is trying to convince Juliet that Paris would make a good husband because of his good looks. Her advise to her daughter demonstrates that she is only concerned about image without consideration of her daughter’s wishes or needs. Both Lord Capulet and Lady Capulet have only their personal motives and values in mind when they make the decision about their daughter’s future. This contributes to the helplessness and isolation that Juliet feels which eventually leads Juliet to her death.

Another manipulative, self-serving character is Juliet’s nurse. On the surface, she appears to be a person that Juliet can confide in during difficult situations, yet throughout the play, her actions would demonstrate that she actually contributes to the destruction of Romeo and Juliet. Initially, she played the role of a messenger between the two lovers supporting their relationship by relaying secret messages between the doomed lovers. At the same time she also appeared to be understanding and sympathetic to Juliet’s feelings by lending Juliet a sympathetic ear.

Yet when Lord and Lady Capulet thwart Romeo and Juliet’s plans of a life together, the nurse, in order to keep her job, does not try to comfort Juliet, she simply says “[Romeo] is dead -or ’twere as good he were” (III, iv, 235) and tells her “I think it best you married with [Paris]”(III, iv, 218). This causes Juliet grief because she trusted her nurse, who throughout the years has become more like a mother to her, and now the only one she trusted is betraying her. As a result of this betrayal and feelings of total hopelessness, Juliet’s thoughts of suicide became prevalent and she turned to friar Laurence for help.

In spite of the fact that Friar Laurence played the part of a helpful confidant to Romeo and Juliet, he ultimately helped in their final destruction. In the beginning of the play, when Romeo went to Friar Laurence for help, he believes that the marriage of the two teenagers might end the long running feud between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s. It is apparent that when Friar Laurence says “In one respect I’ll thy assistant be/ For this alliance may so prove,/ to turn your households’ rancor to pure love”(II, iii, 86-88), all he is thinks about is a way to end the feud that has caused “three civil brawls” (I, i, 87), and have caused the needless death of many.

Even after Romeo is banished and there seems to be no hope for Romeo and Juliet, all Friar Laurence can think about is “blaze (announcing) thy marriage” (III, iii, 150). What friar Laurence does not realize is that he is giving false hope to both Romeo and Juliet, allowing them to believe that their lives will eventually be all right. In reality, we as readers know that this can never be, and thus, Friar Laurence is setting the stage for Romeo and Juliet’s destruction.

In the play, the main characters are teenagers who are forced to deal with extremely complex issues surrounding their simple love for each other. The people, who influence them to do so, are the ones who are responsible for the death and destruction of Romeo and Juliet.

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