The Theme of Death in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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The Theme of Death in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Often times, authors use the theme of death throughout their works. This seems to be true of William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. Throughout his play, Shakespeare uses death to move his story along. He does this with actual deaths, which cause problems for the lovers, and through premonitions and dreams of death. Both Juliet and her Romeo exhibit these premonitions/dreams. The use of death is immediately seen in the prologue of the play: "The fearful passage of their death-marked love…" (Shakespeare Pro. 9). The Prologue offers us the inevitable fate of the two lovers short and abrupt. During the first act of the play, we learn of the Capulet's ball, and of how the lover's met. After the ball is over, Juliet says, "…If he be, married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed," (I, v, ll.143-44) which is a foreboding of the final scene of the play. This partially leads to Romeo and Tybalt's duel in III, i, as Romeo's presence at the ball antagonizes Tybalt. In II, iv, Benvolio and Mercutio reveal that Tybalt has sent Romeo a challenge to a duel. Just before the arrival of Juliet, the Friar warns Romeo against consummating their new marriage too quickly. Romeo agrees, but challenges death to ruin the moment, "...then love-devouring death do what he dare…" (I, vi, ll.7.). Now if only the marriage was made public, these forebodings may not have come to pass especially the duel with Tybalt. In III, i, Tybalt accosts Benvolio and Mercutio in search of Romeo. Now, Romeo does not want to duel with Tybalt as he is now secretly his kinsman, but this does not stop Mercutio for getting in the mix with Tybalt. Romeo gets between the two men, and a... ... middle of paper ... drinks the poison and dies. The Friar arrives upon the scene a bit to late, but is there to greet Juliet when she awakens. The sight is too horrible for him, and he leaves Juliet alone in the tomb. Distraught that there is no more poison left, Juliet stabs herself. At the end of the play, we also learn of the sudden death of Lady Montague, after Romeo's banishment. Throughout his play, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare exemplified the death motif in many ways. He used actual deaths, personification of Death, and employed the use of foresight to allude to death and disaster. In doing so in this eloquent manner, his play runs smoothly, and links to other parts very well, into an ironic and twisted tragedy. Bibliography: Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. New York: Washington Square Press, 1959
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