Romeo is His Own Worst Enemy in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Romeo is His Own Worst Enemy in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo is His Own Worst Enemy in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet


Romeo is his own worst enemy due to a few 'flaws' in his personality;
his impetuosity, his passionate nature and his changeability. If any
of these characteristics were absent the whole outcome of the play
would probably change quite drastically.

Romeo's passionate personality is shown to us quite early in the play,
in Act 2, scene 2, famously known as the 'balcony scene.' Although
earlier in the play Romeo is shown to be infatuated with Rosaline but
as soon as Romeo sees Juliet we see him show almost immediate passion
for her. At the beginning of the play we hear Romeo talking to
Benvolio of his love for Rosaline and how his heart hurts because his
love is not returned by her. We know this from a conversation that
Romeo and Benvolio had when Benvolio asks Romeo;

"…What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours?"

And Romeo responds;

"Not having that which having makes them short."

Here Romeo is saying that when you are not loved the days are long and
that when you are loved your days are short.

Throughout the whole play we see Romeo refer to Juliet as light. There
are many examples of this in the 'balcony scene' and at the Capulet
party in Act 1, scene 5. When Romeo first meets Juliet he states;

"O she doth teach the torches to burn bright"

Romeo says this after first setting eyes on Juliet, he is saying that
Juliet is brighter than the torches which light the whole room and
that she teaches them to be as bright as she is.

Romeo then goes on to talk of Juliet as "a snowy dove trooping with
crows," saying that Juliet is a bright, white dove, a symbol of peace,
walking among black crows; she stands out like a beacon of light in
the dark. Romeo then asks;

"Did my heart love till now, forswear it sight,

For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night."

Here, Romeo is asking himself did he really love Rosaline.

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Not only
does this show his passionate nature, it also shows that he is fickle
and impetuous. His impetuosity is shown when, although he is at a
Capulet party he allows himself to fall in love with Juliet before
finding out who she is.

Kerry Walker

Romeo's impetuosity is also shown in Act 3, scene 1 when we see a lot
of his passion in anger and fury.

We, as the audience know that Romeo has just wed Juliet and therefore
as Tybalt is Juliet's cousin when Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel
Romeo tries to walk away from the challenge, but Tybalt will not allow
him to walk away without a fight and in the text Shakespeare gives us
directions that "Tybalt under Romeo's arm thrust Mercutio in." This
means that Mercutio has been wounded under Romeo's arm because Romeo
did not want to fight with Tybalt.

After Mercutio dies we see Romeo's impetuosity when he says;

"Away to heaven respective lenity,

And fire and fury be my conduct now."

Here, Romeo admits to himself, that he isn't thinking rationally; in
fact he invokes anger to 'think for him.' Later, in the same speech
Romeo states;

"Mercutio's soul

Is but a little way above our heads,

Staying for thine to keep him company:

Either thou or I, or both, must go with him."

Basically here Romeo is saying that he is willing to die to avenge
Mercutio's death. He says that either Tybalt or himself or both must
die and keep Mercutio 'company.'

This is not the first time we have seen Romeo's will to die for
something, or someone, he loves. In the 'balcony scene', Act 1, scene
5 we hear Romeo say;

"My life were better ended by their hate,

Than prorogued by wanting of thy love."

Romeo is saying that he would rather die by the Capulet's hate for him
than not be able to love Juliet.

We then see Romeo battle with Tybalt until Tybalt falls. Then we see
Romeo admit to himself that he is "fortune's fool," although he admits
that he has been foolish but he still 'blames' his foolish action on
fortune.

Kerry Walker

When Balthasar first brings the news to Romeo of Juliet's death Romeo
asks no questions and rushes off to get some poison to kill himself
without even going to see the Friar. When Romeo then goes to see
Juliet in the tomb Romeo goes on and on about how alive Juliet looks
and how it seems as though she is just sleeping but does not think
about why and how this may be and then goes on to take the poison to
kill himself. This is a good example of Romeo's impetuosity where his
quick actions without any thought have ended fatally.

We could say that Romeo is his own worst enemy but we can't blame him
solely for the tragic ending. There are other factors that we need to
take into consideration; for example the feud between the Montague's
and the Capulet's which we are told about in the prologue when
Shakespeare writes;

"Two households alike in dignity,

From ancient grudge, break to new mutiny"

If this feud did not exist then neither would the tragedy; Romeo and
Juliet would not have had to get married in secret, Tybalt would have
never have been killed and then Romeo would have never been exiled
from Verona and Juliet would never have had to take the poison to make
herself appear to be dead and therefore Romeo would never have taken
the poison to kill himself.

Other characters have a lot of impact on the outcome of the play with
their strong personalities for example if the Friar and the Nurse were
not so keen to unite Romeo and Juliet and actually thought about the
consequences of their marriage and if the Friar hadn't been so naive
to think that Romeo and Juliet's love for each other could resolve the
conflict between the Capulet's and the Montague's when Friar Laurence
says to Romeo;

"For this alliance may so happy prove,

To turn your households' rancour to pure love."

The means that if Romeo and Juliet get married their happiness and
love for each other may unite their families and solve the "ancient
grudge" that has stood between the two families for years, and turn
their hate into "pure love."

Timing is also an important element. Timing is so important in any
tragedy; a few second's difference could mean the difference between
life and death; if Romeo had waited just one more minute before he had
taken the poison he would have known that Juliet was still alive and
neither of them would have died. Another example of timing leading to
the tragic ending is if the Friar's letter had arrived with Romeo and
he had read it before speaking to Balthasar he would have known that
Julietwas not really dead but instead he did not receive the letter
and then proceeded to rush off without thinking about the whole
situation showing his impetuosity.

Kerry Walker

So we could say that Romeo's personality does have quite a large
bearing on the tragic ending but not a full bearing, but I would
certainly say that Romeo is his own worst enemy in some ways but Romeo
is not the only person or thing that has an influence on the tragic
ending to Romeo and Juliet.
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