Love is a trap. When it appears, we only see its light, not its shadows” (Coelho). Love takes control of emotions and one can only see the bright future that lies ahead. In William Shakespeare’s famous play, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, a story of a true and undying love is portrayed. Within the walls of Verona, Italy, Romeo and young Juliet, meet at a masquerade ball and fall deeply in love at first sight. Although this moment changed their lives forever, they did not foresee the obstacles looming ahead.
The couple’s true love was challenged by the feud between the Capulet and Montague families, the banishment of Romeo from Verona after the murder of Tybalt, and Friar Lawrence’s involvement in the relationship. From the very beginning, Romeo and Juliet’s relationship was overshadowed by the deep divide and rivalry between the Montague and Capulet families. The best example of the level of hatred between the two families is portrayed by a bloody battle throughout the streets of Verona.
After the fight is over, an angry Prince Escalus exclaims, Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, Profaners of this neighbor-stained steel! Will they not hear? —What, ho! You men, you beasts, That quench the fire of your pernicious rage With purple fountains issuing from your veins…. If ever you disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. (I. 1. 71-89). There is no rational cause for the fights between the Montague and Capulet families, but Prince Escalus simply strives for peace in the streets of Verona. The Prince’s strong punishment of death for the next time this occurs shows how the family feud has been an ongoing problem, and that he cannot tolerate it anymore.
Later that same evening the Lord Capulet hosts a masquerade ball for their daughter, Juliet, to meet Paris and fall in love. This does not go as planned because Romeo, Lord Montague’s son, crashes the party and Juliet falls in love with him. Juliet does not realize the trouble in this until after the ball when Nurse tells her who Romeo really is. Juliet states to herself, 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. v. 152-155).
Here, Juliet is devastated after realizing she has fallen in love with someone that is deeply hated by her family. She expresses how her love at first sight blinded her from knowing her lover’s true identity and now it is too late as they are madly in love. The rivalry between the Montague and Capulet families has a huge impact on Romeo and Juliet’s relationship, but it was not until Romeo was banished from Verona as a result of killing Tybalt that the relationship took a major hit. After the death of Tybalt, Prince Escalus punished Romeo by stating And for that offence Immediately we do exile him hence.
I have an interest in your hate’s proceeding: My blood for your rude brawls doth lie a-bleeding but I’ll amerce you with so strong a fine That you shall all repent the loss of mine. I will be deaf to pleading and excuses. Nor tears nor prayers shall purchase out abuses. Therefore use none. Let Romeo hence in haste, Else, when he’s found, that hour is his last. Bear hence this body and attend our will. Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill. (III. i. 189-207) Since Tybalt stabbed Mercutio to death before Romeo killed Tybalt, the Prince decided to give Romeo the lesser punishment of being exiled instead of killed.
On the other hand, if Romeo is found within the walls of Verona, he shall immediately be killed. According to Romeo, the punishment of being banished is far greater that being killed since he will no longer be able to be with his true love. Next, Juliet was devastated about the loss of her cousin. At first she didn’t know who the murderer was and started to worry that Romeo would also be dead. Later, Nurse informed her that the killing was indeed her Romeo. In response, Juliet yells, O serpent heart hid with a flowering face! Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
Beautiful tyrant! Fiend angelical! Dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb! Despised substance of divinest show, Just opposite to what thou justly seem’st. (III. ji. 74-79) Juliet cannot believe the one she loves has slain her beloved cousin. Shakespeare’s use of several oxymorons proves that Juliet is experiencing mixed emotions about her true love. How can a man that seemed so perfect in her eyes commit such a horrible crime? This is not a man she would love, but she is already married to him and deep down still does love him.
Although the family rivalry and the banishment of Romeo have the two greatest impacts on the relationship of Romeo and Juliet, a smaller but still impactful factor was Friar Lawrence’s involvement with Romeo and Juliet. Friar Lawrence was a good friend with both Romeo and Juliet throughout the play, but in some cases hurt their relationship more than he helped it. When Romeo visited Friar Lawrence in hope of getting him and Juliet married, the text states, ROMEO. I pray thee, chide not. Her I love now Doth grace for grace and love for love allow. The other did not so. FRIAR LAWRENCE. Oh, she knew well
Thy love did read by rote, that could not spell. But come, young waverer, come, go with me, In one respect I’ll thy assistant be, For this alliance may so happy prove To turn your households’ rancor to pure love. ROMEO. Oh, let us hence. I stand on sudden haste. FRIAR LAWRENCE. Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast (Il. iii. 85-94). Since Romeo and Juliet met just one day before they were married, this was obviously an uneducated and pure emotional decision. At first Friar Lawrence was hesitant about marrying the two, but later pursued it in the hope that their families would come together in peace.
The marriage altogether caused more trouble because both families knew nothing about it. This resulted in the Capulets forcing Juliet to marry Paris. The marriage arrangement of Juliet and Paris is what led to Friar Lawrence’s next unforgiving act that ultimately ended the relationship between Romeo and Juliet. The Friar’s plan was to give Juliet a potion to make it seem like she was dead. After this occurred Friar Lawrence sent a letter to Mantua for Romeo to read that Juliet is not actually dead, but the letter doesn’t get to Romeo: FRIAR JOHN. Where the infectious pestilence did reign, Sealed up the doors and would not let us forth.
So that my speed to Mantua there was stayed. FRIAR LAWRENCE. Who bare my letter, then, to Romeo? FRIAR JOHN. I could not send it- here it is again- (V. jji. 10-14). Since the letter was never able to reach Romeo, he never knew about the potion and that his love was still alive. After Friar John could not deliver the letter, Friar Lawrence did not do everything he could to assure that Romeo received the notice. This ultimately led to Romeo believing the false news from Balthasar that Juliet was dead and then drinking the poison that ended his life and the relationship of Romeo and Juliet.
Throughout The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet and her Romeo tried to surpass obstacles that would strain their relationship. The main events that challenged their relationship were the Montague and Capulet family rivalry, the banishment of Romeo from Verona as a result of the murder of Tybalt, and the acts of Friar Lawrence. In all, three days was all it took for the short-lived love affair of Romeo and Juliet to begin and then perish within the shadows of its once thought bright future.