My Y10s will recall that one of the reports on the examination for this paper noted that answers on Romeo & Juliet tended to be done less well than some others and commented:
less successful responses usually took a chronological, narrative approach and although students demonstrated an excellent understanding of the plot and the characters, their answers would have addressed themes and Shakespeare’s techniques much more effectively by being more selective and choosing perhaps two or three sections of the play to explore in detail and to use as evidence to construct a tight argument
So, let’s consider one of the exam questions:
In Act 1 Scene 1 Romeo says: “Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.”
How far do you think that Shakespeare presents love as being more powerful than hate in the play? (40 marks)
Now, summarise very briefly what your argument will be in answer to the question, choose two or three relevant sections (remember to refer to Act, Scene and line numbers rather than pages), and begin to explore those sections in detail, remembering to try and address all strands of the mark scheme:
- Insightful, critical, imaginative & evaluative response to texts and task
- Insightful /impressive engagement with writers’ ideas and attitudes
- Insightful/interpretations using imaginatively selected supporting textual detail
- Impressive analysis of aspects of language and structure; perceptive and imaginative
Compile your response in Google Drive or Word then copy and paste it as a comment below.
Shakespeare presents love being more powerful than hate in Act 4 Scene 5, when Nurse tells Capulet and Lady Capulet that their daughter has died. Which the audience knows she has not, but they all show tremendous amounts of sympathy and despair for the death of the daughter they know so little about. Lady Capulet Cries ‘O me, O me! My child, my only life, Revive, look up, or I will die with thee! Help, help!’ It tells us that even though Juliet’s parents felt it beneath them to care and look after their daughter and used the Nurse as Juliet’s agony aunt, wet nurse, and mother! Her parents still love her and miss her in her death.
In Romeo and Juliet throughout the play Shakespeare shows love as more powerful than hate for example the entire relationship between Romeo and Juliet is bred out of a situation of hatred between the families but to them their love for one another overpowers this hate that is passed on from their parents.
Love and Hate, when you compare love and hate the immediate thought that comes to mind is opposites. Shakespeare seems to use binary oppositions throughout the novel not only with love and hate but also with the families and the characters. However the opposition between the friar Lawrence and The Nurse. These two characters seem to correlate to the power of a love and hate within the story and within the emotions felt by Romeo and Juliet. When The Nurse tells Juliet she should forget about Romeo at the same time Romeo is in panic trying to escape Verona due to the hatred and fights between the families previously. Furthermore, when the Friar Lawrence gives Juliet the poison and Capulet’s are grieving Romeo finds out by his kinsmen of her death and rushes in a panic to her tomb. This correlation seems to be prominent throughout until the end where through the love hate is created as Juliet and Romeo kill themselves it results in a neutral feeling of compassion between both families, as they both hate through grieving of their hatred causing the end to love finishing in a neutral hate & love comparison.
In Romeo and Juliet, I feel that the themes of love and hate run constantly parallel with each other often one leading to the image of another. Love is usually the seemingly glaring theme that is made to be most apparent, due to the main characters Romeo and Juliet, who are in love. But, beneath this obvious theme the idea of hate is underpinned. For example, Romeo and Juliet get married. Even though this is an act of utmost love, they do it in secret. This secrecy has to be maintained because of the bitter hatred that runs between the two families. Meaning, they are doing something which is blatantly an act of love, although there is actually also the theme of hate intertwined in the theme because they have to do it secretly to evade the hate of their families. Also, a lot of the words that are on the surface inferred as words that relate to love seem to also have dark underlying tones that then make you think back to the points in the play where hate is the more dominant theme.
It seems to me that hate can be seen as overpowering love; but to me this is presented as a false hint. I feel that Shakespeare wants to show that love can overpower any kind of hatred whether it is through friendships or relationships. He shows this in Act 1 Scene 1 as part of the climax of the story; it is one of the first times the theme of love is introduced; “Out of her favour where I am in love” is said by Romeo to show his intense love for Rosaline. However, Shakespeare shows us that this was not ‘true love’ this was merely ‘doting’ according to the Friar: Romeo claimed he ‘ne’er saw true beauty’ until that night and instantly forgot about Rosaline as soon as he laid eyes on Juliet. Shakespeare has the Friar Lawrence say ‘doting’ as it means to be uncritically fond of someone and it makes me think that Romeo’s admiration of Juliet is meaningless; he is simply an immature young man who doesn’t seem to have settling down in his interests. However, love is also presented as a cause of violence and hatred in the play, suggesting it is not always as positive as thought to be. In Act 3 Scene 5 Juliet says “If all else fail, myself have power to die” after her father tells her she must marry Paris. I think Shakespeare uses the word ‘power’ to show that love can have power over anything even if it results in death. Shakespeare uses foreshadowing here as Romeo and Juliet take their lives for love at the end of the play; which provides evidence for the fact love can overpower anything.
The word ‘love’ is used a lot more in the play than ‘hate’ is. This could just be a coincidence however it could be Shakespeare getting the message across that love is more powerful than hate because there is more of it. There is more of it in words but in the play there are more and worse acts of hate. Like Paris’ and Tybalt’s death which were both acts of hate from Romeo. He killed both of them due to hate which sort of means Romeo is a serial killer. The only showing of love in the play is between Romeo and Juliet and they are only kids so this may not even be genuine. This shows that the hate is more powerful, there is more of it and are more powerful acts. Such as murder and family feuds.
However, you could argue that Romeo presents love in a more comical sense, by giving Romeo and Juliet such a soppy and melodramatic romance where everything cannot be done is such a logical way. As if what they had was only ‘puppy love’ and nothing serious was only present to give a comical relief just to relieve the dramatic tension or heighten the emotional impact by means of contrast. By including the ‘puppy love’ between the two young, inexperienced and over-obedient characters, he created a topic that his audience could relate to, to laugh at and to empathise with because what Romeo and Juliet are doing brings back embarrassing moments in their past which they felt was the most important thing ever and with this they become more connected to his play. With this being said, it means love was not really a theme in his play and was only there for people to relate with so really all that is in his play is hate. With hate being the only emotional theme that the characters show and feel it means that it was the hate that breeds the love and there is more hate present and it is hate transformed into love. The first time we see hate transformed into love is by Romeo desperately in love with Rosaline, but he hates the fact that no matter what he does he can never have her. So in spite of that and to get over her fast he goes to a party to find another girl who can get, who only wanted a hook-up with any girl at the party accidentally turned to real love. To which Romeo shows annoyance towards for giving up on his past love for and we start to see attitudes of self hate, but not only from him but from Juliet as they both seem to copy each other as they are both naive in their own way, this resulting in the ultimate self-hate, suicide of the couple due to their love for each other.
Shakespeare presents love as being more powerful than hate as he showed how through Romeo’s and Juliet’s love for each other they eventually ended their lives. When Romeo finds out of Juliet’s supposed death he immediately makes the decision to kill himself. In Act 5 Scene 1 Romeo says to himself ‘Well, Juliet I will lie with thee tonight’ this shows how Romeo feels he has to be with Juliet, even though Juliet is dead. Furthermore it can portray how powerful Romeo’s love is for Juliet and maybe how he does not feel as if life is worth living without Juliet being with him. To commit suicide is an extreme length to go for anyone so for Romeo to kill himself because this could indicate the strength of Romeo’s love, and the power of their love ties them together so that it is not possible for it to be tied if one is dead and the other is alive.
However, in the whole play 6 people end up dying, 3 of which was from a fight, this clearly shows as much as much as the theme of love is mainly associated with the play, could be seen as more powerful. If the Capulet’s and the Montague’s never had a feud Romeo and Juliet would most likely not have die, so therefore in this sense hate could be seen as more powerful than love ‘… talk of peace? I hate the word As I hate hell, all Montagues’, this is said by Tybalt in Act 1, Scene 1 during a quarrel in the street. Tybalt clearly points out how for him peace is a word he doesn’t like, which shows how the power of hate will not let Tybalt accept peace.
In the play love is born out of hate shown by the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues but the capability for love is still found.Love is believed to have won over hate near to the end of the play yet the hate by each others families drives them to their deaths. The Capulets and Montagues show true hatred and loathing towards each other but the true reason for the hate has been lost in the past and the families cannot seem to overcome it no matter how long ago it was.
In the play love is presented as the main priority with hate as a second. This is shown in Act 1 Scene 1 when Romeo in a conversation with Benvolio says ‘Here’s so much to do with hate, but more with love…’ This shows how even in Romeo’s eyes love comes hand in hand with hate. As love and hate being very powerful and overwhelming emotions both can take an effect on young and immature people with little experience in matters of both. However both Romeo and Juliet have been brought up with the idea of hate but neither knowing truly why as to the amount of hate between families. This highlights the fact that hate due to it being so prominent in everyday life it could be overpowered by the slightest change in emotions. Yet because of the intensity of hate and love they could effectively merge together either in the form of a strange and intensified love or possibly even misunderstood feelings.
The most direct way of showing this are how Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet (the main protagonists) fall in love, and through death end their parents’ “strife” for example. This is first made clear during the prologue of the play which gives the impression that Shakespeare intended the main literary feud to be between love and hate, and perhaps told the audience this immediately in an attempt to provoke them to become more immersed in the performance so it is no longer solely between the Capulets and Montagues but between all motifs involved with love and hate. This including the “ancient grudge” and the idea of how the alignment of stars could bring good fortune.
Moreover, Shakespeare plays, if I may use the term with the balance between love and hate. For example, when hate drives Romeo to kill Tybalt, it appears his life has taken a turn for the worst after he receives exile as punishment. However, even in death, Shakespeare still presents Romeo and Juliet to be even more loving than when they were both in good health. This can be shown by how Juliet refers to poison as “friendly” giving the impression that death would be comforting at that very moment. Furthermore, this use of personification also suggests that it was destined to happen as further strengthened by how Shakespeare writes that poison would “haply” hang on Romeo’s lips. Thus implying that to die by drinking the poison, Juliet was fulfilling her destiny and would be “restorative” in terms of restoring her life. This is ironic because poison is used to end life but in this case, for Juliet it completes it.
PRINCE: Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!
See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
And I for winking at your discords too
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish’d
Here the Prince is expressing his anger and sadness about the death of both Romeo and Juliet. ‘what a scourge is laid upon your hate’. This line tells me that the Prince is scolding the Montagues and Capulets and saying to them that because of their conflict and rivalry, their loved ones have paid the price by dying. I think that the Prince is somewhat saying ‘I told you so’ to the Montagues and Capulets because earlier on in the play he told them,
‘If you ever disturb our streets again,
Your lives will pay the forfeit of the peace’
and so he was right because Romeo and Juliet both died and so did Mercutio, Paris and Tybalt. I also think that the Prince could have meant that the Montagues and Capulets would not literally loose their lives but may feel as though their lives are not worth living because of their loss. I think this because when everybody thought that Juliet had died, her mother’s heart was broken and she says to Juliet, ‘Revive, look up, or I will die with thee.’ Lady Capulet however did not die for Juliet, she only said it, probably because at the time she was in shock and didn’t really know what to say. Although she didn’t kill herself, that’s not to say that she didn’t love Juliet because as a watcher of the play it is very clear that she did but I can still see that the Prince was right in saying that ‘Your lives will pay the forfeit of the peace’. In this aspect hate is more powerful than love because hate has caused more damage and killed more lives than love has although Romeo and Juleit died for love so some could argue that even though they died and dying normally comes hand in hand with hate through the majority of the play, this time Romeo and Juliet decided to end their lives because of their love for eachother.