Love is Doomed to Failure in Both Romeo and Juliet and Cal

Love is Doomed to Failure in Both Romeo and Juliet and Cal

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Love is Doomed to Failure in Both Romeo and Juliet and Cal


Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love story in the English literary
tradition. In Romeo and Juliet, love is a violent, ecstatic,
overpowering force that supersedes all other values, loyalties and
emotions. In the course of the play, the young lovers are driven to
defy their entire social world: families ('Deny thy father and refuse
thy name,' Juliet asks, 'Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, /
And I'll no longer be a Capulet'); friends (Romeo abandons Mercutio
and Benvolio after the feast in order to go to Juliet's garden); and
ruler (Romeo returns to Verona for Juliet's sake after being exiled by
the Prince on pain of death). In comparison to Shakespeare's
Renaissance play, Cal was written at a very different time in a very
different style. Bernard McClaverty's novel, Cal, was published in
1983 based in a small Ulster town during "troubles" with the IRA.
Cal's unfulfilled love for Marcella is caused by social situations,
particularly religion and Cal's forced recruitment to the IRA.

Shakespeare's tragedy is a dramatic twist of desire, murder, exile and
suicide all provoked by a passionate love, which only lasts five days.
The development of love in Cal is set over six months, lacking the
dramatic excitement of a play, but enhanced by genuine realism. Romeo
and Juliet and Cal are linked; both portray a love across a divide. In
other words we see two lovers in both stories that cannot maintain a
loving relationship, because of their differences. Also, both stories
have an unhappy ending where we see the story end with a result of the
lovers dieing or being separated. Romeo and Juliet is based in the
beautiful Italian city of Verona. The characters have a high status;
both families are wealthy and important within the city. Shakespeare
concentrates on the doomed love between the young lovers. In contrast,
the main characters in Cal are working class, reliant upon social
conditions. For example, Cal is unemployed at the beginning and

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Marcella works in a small library.

Romeo and Juliet and Cal differ in the protagonists' opinions of life
and Fate. In Romeo and Juliet we hear many times the mention of Fate.
At the beginning of the play Romeo and Juliet are addressed to the
audience by the Chorus as "star- crossed lovers". They seem constantly
aware of this, when Romeo believes that Juliet is dead, he cries out
"Then I defy you, stars," completing the idea that the love between
Romeo and Juliet is on opposition to destiny's plan. During the
Renaissance the idea of the Wheel of Fortune and Lady Fortune was
popular. They believed that lady fortune spins a wheel that has
everybody on it, one minute you could be at the top and have good
fortune or you could be at the bottom and have bad fortune. Romeo also
says after he kills Tybalt "O I am fortune's fool!" showing many
people believed that they could do nothing about their Fate at that
time.

Cal is very different, the characters are a lot more modern and
familiar to our generation. For example, Cal gets caught up in the IRA
by Crilly and Skeffington and is unable to get out once he is part of
it. He doesn't blame the stars as Romeo does in Romeo and Juliet, he
accepts it as bad luck symptomatic of Ireland's social situation. In
Cal the mood is generally sombre, unlike scenes in Romeo and Juliet
like the Ball scene, which shows us the excitement of Italian
aristocratic life. The characters in Cal have a different lifestyle
and culture to Romeo and Juliet. For example, most of the characters
in Cal are badly off and struggle to earn a living, very different to
the characters of the families in Romeo and Juliet who are very
wealthy and high status.

The development of love in Cal and Romeo and Juliet is very different,
love develops very hastily in Romeo and Juliet with the two lovers
falling in love the night before they get married. Cal is based on
realism. Cal and Marcella's relationship is dragged on through a long
period of time, showing the characters to be less decisive towards
their emotions. Cal is in love with Marcella, but she only gradually
returns his affection and is much more hesitant about her feelings. In
contrast, the lovers fall in love at first sight in Romeo and Juliet.
Their decision to get married, despite the fact they are part of two
different rival families, shows their powerful love. They speak only
fourteen lines to each other before they first kiss. These lines
representing a sonnet, the idealised form of love.

However, Romeo and Juliet and Cal do share the similarity of the
relationship with the young and old generation. In both instances in
which "love is doomed to failure", the characters are unable to
consult their parents for advice. Juliet is forced into a marriage
against her wishes and Romeo turns to Friar Lawrence during his
troubles. Cal has a distant relationship with his father and lacks the
affection he received from his dead mother. The suggestion is that the
older generation are unable to provide solid emotional support. Juliet
is able to confide in her nurse, but she and Friar Lawrence even let
the two down at the play's conclusion, showing the older generation to
have a lack of understanding true love.

Shakespeare uses dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet, the audience
knows a lot more than the characters do and this makes the play more
exciting. This is most clearly exemplified in the deaths of Romeo and
Juliet, which occur in a sequence of compounding action. Juliet drinks
a potion that makes her appear dead. Romeo then drinks a potion that
actually kills him. Juliet stabs herself through the heart with a
dagger. The audience is powerless to stop these tragic actions,
suggesting a love that is doomed to fail.

The amount of unhappiness and sadness in both Romeo and Juliet and Cal,
makes it debatable on whom to blame. In Romeo and Juliet we could
blame the parents of Romeo and Juliet, Friar Lawrence, Nurse, Prince
Escalus and Tybalt. The blame has to be split between these people but
I think most of the blame should go to the parents of both families
for their lack of understanding and carrying a ridiculous rivalry on
and not making any effort at all to make peace. The irony is that the
lovers suicide finally ends their families feud. Friar Lawrence's
words, "These violent delights have violent ends" are appropriate. In
Cal we can blame Crilly and Skeffington for forcing Cal into the IRA
and for not letting him quit so easily. The main similarity between
Romeo and Juliet and Cal is that they both display love across a
barrier, which finally ends in tragedy and doomed love.
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