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The Godfather and Romeo & Juliet are complex texts which the readers of them barely see pass their superficial meanings. The Godfather on the surface is about the mafia underworld in the Italian American underworld, however underneath the facade it is also a fantastical tale of many types of honour. Romeo and Juliet is superficially a tale of two lovers whose families are torn apart by hatred for one another, but it too is a tale of honour. The four main types of honour in these texts are family, enemy, female and community honour. 95
In The Godfather, family honour is one of the main themes of the text. The don says to his son Sonny when the family talk with Sallazo about a drug deal after Sonny's outburst "don't ever let anyone outside the family hear what your thinking". After Michael who becomes the new don and finds out that his brother in law was disloyal to the family he has him killed. Before he kills Carlo, to reassure him that he wont be harmed he says "I would'nt make my sister a widow". Sustaining the family honour is more important to michael than his own sister. Michael says to his brother Fredo after he took sides against the family, "Your my oldest brother and I love you but don't ever take sides against the family" The family's honour supersedes all things because the family is nothing without its honour. In Romeo & Juliet too, honour is also a main theme. When the Montagues bite their thumbs at the Capulets, the Capulets quarrel and fight with them so that the family name is not digraced. Gregory of the Montagues says to Sampson "I will bite my thumb at them which is a disgrace to them if they bare it". Something as small as a rude gesture to the families is seen as disgrace or dishonourable if they bare it.
Tybalt of the capulets after seeing Romeo of the house of Montague at their feast is furious at seeing him there. Tybalt says "By the stock and honour of my kin, to strike him dead I hold it not a sin". These powerful words show us how much honour was the driving force in the play.
Enemy honour too plays a significant part inthe Godfather.
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Lastly, honour to the community is another important theme in the Godfather. When the heads of all the mafia families meet to discuss the drug business, some display their honour to the community. The Kansas city Don when talking about his opposition to drugs says "I want it to keep it respectable, I don't want it near schools, I don't want it sold to kids". These words were said by a man with great audacity, he displayed his morals and stuck by them and thus keeping his honour to the community. In Romeo & Juliet too is honour to the community very important. Prince Escalus after much violence from the Capulets and Montagues, decides to take matters into his own hands. He tells them that if they fight again that the heads of the families would be killed. Prince Escalus says "If you disturb the peace again, your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace". He does the honourable thing to the community and he too maintans his honour.
Society has lost its fervour for honour, it has been marginalized for lesser things such as money. The texts were set in more noble times when honour and morals were what made you who you were. Nowadays we are measured by what we have in the bank, their is much for society to learn from this texts. The Romans who were very honourable people use to commit suicide because they saw capture or surrender as dishonourable acts. In concluding, Roman emperor Julius Ceasar once said "We men are measured by our honourable acts in this life. Here the question arises, how do we want to be remembered by others?".