At the end of Romeo and Juliet, this is the question that’s invariably on everyone’s minds. Did the play really have to end like that? Were Romeo and Juliet being rash, and was suicide really worth it just because they couldn’t be with the one they loved?
Overall, I would give the whole book a solid 7/10 stars. I really enjoyed the beginning of it, (up until act 3-middle of act 4), but after that, the whole thing seemed a little rushed. Like Shakespeare just wanted to get it over with (relatable). Now, I knew that R & J’s relationship was hasty, but for some reason, the whole time I was expecting their relationship to be a little more… developed. But no, they see each other a few times and then die in each other’s arms. To me, that made the “I love you so much I’m going to die for you” seem a bit fake and not genuine. But I guess some of it is probably not being able to see into a character’s mind, as it is a play.
So, was their love really worth dying for? This is like trying to explain the meaning of life in one word, but I’ll try to make it concise:
- A common motif is that love leads to death. Juliet says, “Than death prorogued wanting of thy love” Mercutio died because Romeo loved Juliet, and in turn Tybalt. Tybalt died because Romeo loved Mercutio and wanted vengeance. Paris died because he loved Juliet. Lady Montague died because she loved Romeo. And of course, Romeo and Juliet died because they loved each other.
- When Romeo finds Juliet dead, he expresses suicide as an act of love. “I still will stay with thee/ And never from this palace of dim night/ Depart again.” So, love and death is one and the same here.
- They (including Friar Lawrence) believed that love can conquer all, especially the family feud. So, if there is no more love, can you conquer anything? Or is death now the only option?
This is at least how Shakespeare presented it. In my opinion, it’s very circumstantial. If you had a kid that was dying and for some reason, the only way they could live is for you to die, it’s worth it.
But committing suicide for a man you’ve met a few days prior? Absolutely not. Maybe you’d feel like you wanted to die, but life is so much more than romance. If anything, you have to stay alive because I doubt that loved one would want you dead.
Who’s to blame?
In a way, every character somehow contributed to Romeo and Juliet’s death. But I’m still standing behind my theory that Romeo is to blame for all of this. I’ll sort it out into a list again:
- Like Helen Fisher said, the feelings of love are more intense when you just got dumped. And he meets Juliet right after Rosaline ditched him, so it’s more of lust at first sight than love.
- And when Romeo is whining to his friends about his love life, Mercutio basically says “sleep with someone, you’ll feel better.” Aaaand he meets Juliet…
- Juliet loves him because he’s attractive, and Romeo takes advantage of that to just manipulate Juliet because he’s heartbroken.
- Read my last post for more on this, but Romeo is the reason why Mercutio and Tybalt died.
- And of course, when Tybalt died, Juliet’s feeling that teenage rebellion (after her father threatens to disown her) and decides to not care that the love of her life killed her cousin, but that he’s banished. Really, Juliet?! And when the Nurse asks her, “Will you speak well of him that killed your cousin?” She responds, “Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?” as if the two cancel out (pg 137).
- Maybe Paris isn’t the bad guy we all thought he was- Capulet tells Paris in scene two that he needs to “take things slow” with Juliet and win her over first: “But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart,/ My will to her consent is but a part…” So, Paris actually loves Juliet… unlike Romeo, who seems to just be manipulating her.
- Romeo is banished, which according to him is worse than death. And then Juliet dies… so he decides to commit suicide because he’s basically screwed (and it’s better than being banished, so hey!). And all this drives Juliet to kill herself too, because that one hot guy who her parents didn’t like and acted like he loved her is now dead. Oh, Romeo!
Those are all of my thoughts, overall, I liked the play much better than I thought I would. I linked a short video from Thug Notes summarizing Romeo and Juliet, enjoy…