‘Love is stronger than hate’. Discuss this view of ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

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The typical perception of Romeo and Juliet is that it is solely about love. However, upon reading the play, the reader discovers the volume of violent themes running throughout. For example, the play is littered with death and violent imagery. However, I believe that throughout, it is made clear that there is a fine line between such powerful emotions. This is shown by continually juxtaposing scenes of passion with scenes of hatred - even romantic scenes are littered with the constant foreshadowing of death. This is backed up when we read ‘Friar Lawrence’ warning Romeo and Juliet that “violent delights can lead to violent ends” and encourages them to “love moderately”. Through Friar Lawrence, William Shakespeare teaches us, perhaps because of a personal experience, that the line between love and hate is finer than what meets the eye. I think that Shakespeare is portraying that people love to hate each other.
Shakespeare opens the play in such a fashion that suggests hate and violence will be more powerful than love. Shakespeare opens his first act with a scene that displays the misogynistic world where love would have to be extremely powerful to survive. This is portrayed with two Capulet servants conversing with vulgar language. For example, Sampson talks about women when he says they are the “weaker vessel” who “are ever thrust to the wall”. This paints the picture of women as cargo ships – which are meant to be filled with cargo. Shakespeare is trying to show how Sampson believes he is compatible with any “vessel” he chooses. Perhaps this could also imply that he has a large ego and is so strong that he could “thrust” a whole boat. It’s possible that Shakespeare is using Sampson to symbolise men as products of their society an...

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...that wherever love is, there too is violence. He is trying to show the power of such emotions and how when they collide, mortality’s chances rise, in that violence is imminent. Shakespeare uses beautiful and religious imagery to show the purity of love but also how it can lead to death under extreme circumstances. I think that, in Elizabethan times, the audience would be used to the violence, hate and misogyny as the people were products of their society and its views; they would have focussed on the romantic element of the play. Perhaps this is why it is commonly regarded as a romantic play. However, 21st century audiences/readers acknowledge the violent misogynistic aspect as the themes are not as common today. In my opinion, Shakespeare was trying to convey the power of such extreme emotions and in the words of his character Friar Lawrence, to “love moderately”.
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