Romeo and Juliet Essay

Symbolic Themes of Romeo and Juliet

The majority of readers, when asked to choose the most romantic literary oeuvre in history, will answer Romeo and Juliet. It’s even not necessary to name its author because a person who hasn’t heard of William Shakespeare must have come out of the Ark! Romeo and Juliet have been favorite characters in theaters across the globe. There is a range of screen adaptations, which are worth watching over and over again. Curiously, the initial critic Samuel Pepys lambasted this Shakespeare’s creation, saying that it was the worst play he had ever seen.

Students must be glad to receive a writing task related to the famous tragedy, but experience has shown that not everyone is able to complete this assignment excellently. I’d like to elucidate three major themes of Romeo and Juliet, which you can use to write a critical paper or compare and contrast essay.

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Major Themes

Cruel Destiny

We find out about the tragic ending in the prologue, when reading such lines “A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life” and “The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love.” Thus, destiny is the main invisible actor on the stage. As it happens, their families are archenemies, which means that the lead characters’ passionate relationship has been doomed from the start. Fate is wicked because young people meet and fall in love anyway. The first step towards the romantic sufferings is made when Lord Capulet's illiterate servant seeks a well-educated person who’s able to read a guest list to him. By a twist of fate, he encounters Romeo with his request and a young Montague agrees to read. In gratitude, the servant invites Romeo to drink some wine in the Capulet's house, where a lad meets beautiful Juliet.


Though destiny led to the incredible affection between two people, Love is the quintessence of this story. What is interesting, this feeling is represented not only by the protagonists. The play also reflects diverse forms of love and different attitudes of people to it. For instance, the Nurse contradicts Juliet’s vision of love, stating that the enamourment is merely physical and short-term. Paris personifies contractual and ambitious love, Lord Capulet exemplifies paternal considerate love, and the ardent couple, Romeo and Juliet embody purely romantic love, which is both spiritual and obsessive. Their voluptuous feelings are too intense; such kind of love is often compared to a disease because people who are head over heels in love behave a bit insane. Who knows, a drop of sanity could have saved them. Romeo could have understood that it’s thoughtless to drink poison impulsively. But then, it would have been a different story.


The core idea of the play’s ambiguous nature lies in the line said by Friar Laurence “Virtue itself turns vice being misapplied, /And vice sometimes by action dignified.” Despite his efforts to help Juliet by means of a sleeping potion, the feigned death turns into the real one. When children of the feuding families tragically die, it finally leads to their reconciliation as well as the symbolic renaissance of Verona. Shakespeare liked to play with contrasts, amalgamating them into one essence: the good and the evil will always exist side by side.

This highly romantic and tragic brainchild of William Shakespeare has conquered the hearts of millions throughout the ages. Great public acceptance created a paradox: though the protagonists tragically pass away, they are constantly reincarnated in the minds of new and old readers.


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