Romeo and Juliet
In “Romeo and Juliet” William Shakespeare understands social prejudices as ineradicable source of evil ruining human life both physically and morally, whereas people supporting such prejudices are metaphorically shown as “rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel” (Act I, Scene 1). Therefore, the author conceptualizes peace as a sacred concept, whereas prejudiced thinking has a strongly negative connotation of profanity, factual disorder as well as moral chaos. Continuing the feud with reckless fanaticism, rooted in the medieval thinking and inconsistent with Renaissance humanism, Montagues and Capulets violate the laws of their native Verona, which is a Christian state.
The author of the tragedy reveals a world view of medieval man, who considers himself a Christian, but stubbornly defends the values of paganism and inhuman morality. In particular, Shakespeare recurs to contrastive comparisons in order to illustrate a grotesque hypocrisy of both families against the background of false spirituality and dignity articulating them in the words of the Prince:
“Will they not hear? What, ho! you men, you beasts,
That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
With purple fountains issuing from your veins!”
(Act I, Scene 1, Line 101).
Comparing a ‘human’ man to a ‘wild’ beast, Shakespeare is being ironic towards the corrupted human morality that remains unchanged independently of the historical period, should it be Middle Ages or humanistic Renaissance. With an emphasis on human hatefulness, Shakespeare uses associative patterns the dialogue when Benvolio alludes to the possibility of peace, and Tybalt, irritated, abruptly interrupts him:
“What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word
As I hate hell, all Montagues” (Act I, Scene 1).
Such a juxtaposition reveals that for both families revenge has become a way of self-assertion and determination for revenge. Another prejudice that leads to negative consequences of the tragedy is relevant to Capulet’s family. According to the custom of the epoch, Juliet’s father choses Paris, a young nobleman, as her future husband, regardless Juliet’s feelings. In this case the play is an outstanding symbol of two ways of thinking and perceiving the reality – medieval, full of social prescriptions and stereotypes and humanistic one, attentive to human individualism and free choices. Therefore the duel between Mercutio and Tybalt, depicted in Act III, is the most sweeping generalization, symbolizing the clash of two worlds: the ancient is embodied in Tybalt, while Mercutio symbolizes free spirit of the Renaissance. Feeling a fatal blow, Mercutio realizes that he is killed by a despicable nonentity:
“A plague o' both your houses!
They have made worms' meat of me”
(Act III, Scene 1, Line 1611)
In such a way Mercutio considers himself a victim of a senseless medieval irreconcilable enmity.Ultimately, Mercutio’s death turns into a symbol of mundane life as a vanity fair, disregarding sacred moral values and corrupted with human arrogance and ambition:
“That gallant spirit hath aspir'd the clouds,
Which too untimely here did scorn the earth” (Act III, Scene 1).
These words introduce the reader to a better understanding of a drastic contrast between idealized human values and their …