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In the play Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare utilizes opposites in
both the thoughts and actions of the characters in Romeo and Juliet.
Outlined are contrasts of crime and violence versus peace and law,
love versus hate, and young versus old.
The uses of crime & violence versus peace and law are demonstrated in
Act 3, Scene 1. Tybalt and Mercutio exchange remarks back and forth,
when Benvolio steps in and encourages them to stop.
Mercutio: Consort? What, dost thou make us minstrels? And thou make
minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords. Hereî–¸ my
fiddlestick, hereî–¸ that shall make you dance. Zounds, consort!
Benvolio: We talk here in the public haunt of men. Either withdraw
unto some private place, Or reason coldly of your grievances, Or else
depart. Here all eyes gaze on us. Mercutio: Menî–¸ eyes were made to
look, and let them gaze. I will not budge for no manî–¸ pleasure, I.
This is just a small sampling of crime and violence versus peace and
law. Later in this scene, Mercutio challenges Tybalt in a duel, then
when Mercutio is slain, Romeo goes on to challenge Tybalt, killing
him. If Mercutio, Tybalt and Romeo would have listened to Benvolio,
the fights would have not occurred, and the outcome of the play would
An example of love versus hate occurs through the relationship Romeo
and Juliet and the hate between their families. The love that Romeo
and Juliet share completely opposes the deep roots of anger and hate
between their parents. The quote from the Chorus best states this.
Chorus: Two houses, both alike in dignity ?From ancient grudge break
to new mutiny ?A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life: Whose
misadventured piteous overthrows, Doth with their death bury their
The sincere and strong love of Romeo and Juliet contrasts with the
extreme, petty grudges held by their parents. The love between Romeo
Montague and Juliet Capuletî¢·nd their love through their deathsî¢¸rought
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An example of young versus old can be seen with the passion of youth
through Romeo & Julietî–¸ relationship and through the bitterness and
beliefs of old age. An example of this can be found in Act 3, Scene 5
when Lady Capulet tells Juliet of her marriage to Paris, arranged by
Lady Capulet: Marry, my child, early next Thursday morn The gallant,
young, and noble gentleman, The County Paris, at Saint Peterî–¸ Church,
Shall happily make thee a joyful bride. Juliet: Now by Saint Peterî–¸
Church, and Peter too, He shall not make me there a joyful bride. ?I
pray you tell my lord and father, madam, I will not marry yet. And
when I do, I swear It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate, Rather
than Paris. These are news indeed.
(later in the scene) Capulet: How, how, how, how? Chopped Logic? What
is this? î“¸roud?and î“± thank you?and î“± thank you not?And yet î”–ot proud?
?Out, you green-sickness carrion! Out, you baggage! You tallow-face!
This shows how Juliet has passion and faith in her relationship with
Romeo, while her parents are old-fashioned; her father arranges a
marriage for her, and her mother takes the side of her husband, rather
than that of her daughter. This scene also shows how Juliet has
changed and has gained the courage to speak against authority.
From these examples, a small portion of the many modes of contrast is
found in Romeo and Juliet. The use of crime and violence versus peace
and law is exhibited between Mercutio, Tybalt, Romeo and Benvolio.
Benvolio tries to bring the two sides to peace, but is unsuccessful at
his attempts. Love versus hate occurs between Romeo and Juliet towards
their families. Their love overshadows their parents hate, but in the
end results in both of their deaths. Young versus old is shown through
the passion between Romeo and Juliet, and the old-fashioned behavior
of their families. William Shakespeare is a brilliant writerî£hose
details are missed upon a first-time reading. His work requires
in-depth inspection and research to fully grasp all of the fine
storylines and events.