Girls would have been married from around the age of twelve, and would have been expected to have their husbands’ children. Most people preferred to have sons rather than daughters, mainly because when a father found a suitable husband for his daughter, he had to pay money, or goods in order for his daughter to be allowed to marry, this is known as a dowry. Whilst in the marriage, the wife would have been her husbands’ property, just as children would belong to their parents.
Romeo and Juliet is based upon this system.
From the very beginning of the play, we are told that Romeo and Juliet will die because of their love for each other, for example,
‘The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love’ (Prologue), and throughout the play we are reminded that the beautiful love story we are hearing, will end in tragedy. Like the quote says, their love for each other was marked with death from the start, it was ‘written in the stars’ that their deaths, in so many ways, would touch so many lives.
Romeo and Juliet also say things that point towards their inevitable deaths:
‘My grave is like to be my wedding bed’ (Act 1 scene V line 149)
There are many clever references throughout the play to tell us that although there is a battle between love and hate, and it seems so often as though hate overcomes love, it is all to bring happiness and peace in the end.
‘But thankful even for hate, that is meant love’ (Act 3 Scene V line 165). This is a good example; Juliet is talking to her father about marrying Paris. She is saying that even though there may be something that she dislikes, that she hates, (i.e. marrying Paris), she is thankful to her father because it was out of love for her that he wanted her to marry Paris in the first place. This can also be applied to the overall moral of the play; it was because of the hatred between both their families that in the end Romeo and Juliet’s love killed them, from situations of hate, love can be found. This seems to be the theme throughout the play.
When looking at the battle between love and hate, we are not just looking at the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, but at the many relationships between the other characters involved. The story of Romeo and Juliet is filled with interconnecting characters that all have the same sort of relationships, just put differently. For example: Juliet and Lady Capulet. We are not told much about the relationship between the mother and her daughter, but we can clearly see that Lady Capulet takes very seriously the rule that you own your child. Juliet does not seem to have a very close relationship with her mother, but acts towards her more like Lady Capulet is her employer. I think that because of Lady Capulets’ high social position, she doesn’t really have time to take care of Juliet, and wasn’t really around when Juliet was growing up, and therefore hasn’t made a special ‘motherly’ bond with her daughter. When Juliet tells her that she does not wish to marry Paris, Lady Capulet is ready to abandon her only daughter, something that you wouldn’t really think a mother would do. However, there are some situations during the story that make it seem as though Lady Capulet really does love and care for Juliet.
‘O me, O me! My child, my only life,
Revive, look up, or I will die with thee'(Act 4 Scene V lines 24-25). In this quote Lady Capulet is speaking to Juliet, however, Juliet is in a deep sleep although Lady Capulet thinks that she is dead. Here, she is willing to die to be with her daughter. Again it seems that even though there doesn’t seem to be a lot of love, and at one point there is hate between Lady Capulet and Juliet, in the end you can really see the love shining through. The thought of her only daughter dying, brought out the love that Lady Capulet had for Juliet.
Another relationship that demonstrates hate turning to love, is that of Romeo and Tybalt. Tybalt actually, physically hates Romeo- he is ready and willing to kill him whenever he has the chance.
‘Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford
No better term than this, –thou art a villain’ (Act 3 Scene 1 lines 53-54). He says on many occasions how much he hates Romeo, and ironically, in the end it is Romeo that kills Tybalt. So where does the love come into it? After marrying Tybalts’ cousin, Juliet, Romeo feels a strong bond of love towards Tybalt. However, since Tybalt does not know Romeo and Juliet are married, he still continues to hate Romeo. In this case, hate does have the final word.
One of the most important relationships, the main focus of the story, is that of Capulet and Montague. This relationship causes the hatred in the play, and in the end it is the death of their loved ones, that brings about the caring, and the love. The ‘houses’ of these two men are constantly fighting because of them; their children kill themselves, because of them. In so many ways hate should have the final victory, but it doesn’t.
Throughout the play, it is not just each other that the two men hate, it is the family of the other, and in the case of Capulet, his own daughter.
‘we scarce thought us blest
That God had lent us but this only child;
But now I see this one is one too much’.(Act 3 Scene 5 lines 184-186)
There is not really any direct speaking from one man to the other, but the hatred that they share can be seen through the people that are close to them. In fact, it is quite surprising that Romeo and Juliet find it in their hearts to love each other, when the hatred they should show to the other has been instilled in them through their family, and especially their parents. This proves that love is stronger than hate.
Before I go on to discuss the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, there is one that doesn’t seem very important, but actually this. That is the relationship between Paris and Juliet. There is no real hate in this relationship; there is no real love in this relationship. It seems that Paris loves, or thinks he loves Juliet, and under different circumstances, maybe Juliet would feel more towards Paris than she did. Paris is a character that often refers to love, and to hate.
‘For Venus smiles not in a house of tears’ (Act 4 Scene 1 line 8)- Venus the goddess of love, cannot spread this love with people who are sad, and hurt inside. Paris seemed to understand that Juliet could not be forced into loving, when she was so hurt. This gives the impression that maybe if there is enough hate, there can be no love?
‘My only love sprung from my only hate!’ (Act 1 Scene 5 line 152) Juliet, on first discovering that the man she had just fallen in love with, was in fact the son of her fathers’ worst enemy shows in this sentence, that love can come from hate.
‘That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;’ However she soon realises that it doesn’t matter what your name is, or whose son you are, if you love someone, if someone is special to you, that’s all that matters. I think that this is something a lot of people can learn from. The example that she uses, if a rose wasn’t called a rose, it would still smell as lovely as it does. Just like as Romeo is a Montague, he would still be as attractive and unique to her as if he wasn’t.
‘A Dove-feathered Raven’, the dove, the bird of peace, a messenger for the goddess of love, a bird said to contain the very souls of lovers, a sacred and holy bird that is a sign of hope and peace for so many. The Raven, a mysterious dark bird that is meant to bring ‘ill omen’, a bird that can look into the future, Ravens are said to be associated with the Devil, to be ‘messengers of death’.
What does this have to do with the battle between love and hate? The way I see it is that when Juliet speaks these words, in a way she is referring to the fact that sometimes there is hate, that is surrounded by love. That there is death that is meant to bring something good. A Raven is symbolic of bad things like death, being unholy and bad luck, whereas the Dove is symbolic of peace, hope, love and G-d. Since the Raven being referred to, has the feathers of a Dove, goodness and hope surround it, even though at the core, at the heart of it all is evil and unhappiness. I think that this corresponds to the play, and how although it is sad, and painful to loose people you love, especially your children, in this case it was all for a greater good, to bring peace and love to all.
‘Thus with a kiss I die’ I think that this sums everything up. Romeo’s final thought was of love- a kiss. Just as I believe that the final victory belonged to love. Throughout the play, it was shown that ‘love conquers all’, and that although there were a few situations that love didn’t seem to be present, in the end everyone could see past the hurt, to the love.