Home/Listening/Writing/

FOLLOW US: NEWSLETTER FACEBOOK Google+ twitter




readingREADING



Themes of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Themes of Romeo and Juliet

The themes of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare are various but the most salient feature of the story is the theme of love. The play presents the most famous love story in the English literary tradition. But although love is naturally the play's dominant and most important theme, other themes are also present throughout the events.

Here are the main themes of Romeo and Juliet.

Themes of the play

Love

Romeo and Juliet is sometimes considered to have no unifying theme, save that of young love. The play focuses on romantic love, mainly the intense passion that springs up at first sight between Romeo and Juliet. Love in this play is a violent and ecstatic that has power over all other social values. It is also a tragic love and Romeo and Juliet have become emblematic of young lovers and doomed love.

Fate and chance

Scholars are divided on the role of fate in the play. No consensus exists on whether the characters are truly fated to die together or whether the events take place by a series of unlucky chances. Arguments in favor of fate often refer to the description of the lovers as "star-cross'd". This phrase seems to hint that the stars have predetermined the lovers' future

Duality of light and dark

Shakespeare's widespread use of light and dark imagery throughout the play has long been noted. The theme of light is considered as "symbolic of the natural beauty of young love." Both Romeo and Juliet see the other as light in a surrounding darkness. Romeo describes Juliet as being like the sun, brighter than a torch, a jewel sparkling in the night, and a bright angel among dark clouds. Even when she lies apparently dead in the tomb, he says her "beauty makes This vault a feasting presence full of light." Juliet describes Romeo as "day in night" and "Whiter than snow upon a raven's back." This contrast of light and dark can be expanded as symbols—contrasting love and hate, youth and age in a metaphoric way.

Time

Time plays an important role in the language and plot of the play. Both Romeo and Juliet struggle to maintain an imaginary world void of time in the face of the harsh realities that surround them. For instance, when Romeo swears his love to Juliet by the moon, she protests "O swear not by the moon, th'inconstant moon, / That monthly changes in her circled orb, / Lest that thy love prove likewise variable." From the very beginning, the lovers are designated as "star-cross'd" referring to an astrological belief associated with time. Stars were thought to control the fates of humanity, and as time passed, stars would move along their course in the sky, also charting the course of human lives below. Romeo speaks of a foreboding he feels in the stars' movements early in the play, and when he learns of Juliet's death, he defies the stars' course for him.

Related Pages