Feud In Romeo And Juliet

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The Feud in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
The aim of this essay is to define the nature of the feud in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and to discuss its function in the dramatic development of the play. The conflict between the families of Montagues and Capuletes is presented as the outcome of an ultimate expression of patriarchal society in Verona which promotes virility at any cost and obscene sexual innuendo targeting women. However, the love of Romeo and Juliet comes to prove the young people’s indifference towards the feud but at the same time the patriarchy’s tremendous power over them. Finally, the family’s feud combined with the contribution of fate makes the timing of events such, that a tragic resolution cannot be prevented.
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For example, Tybalt and Mercutio draw their swords against each other in order to fight for their houses’ honor, and finally both are killed for this reason. Romeo on the other side at first avoids fighting due to his marriage with Juliet, but when he thinks himself as an offspring of Montagues murders Tybald to take revenge for Mercutio’s death. Consequently and according to Coppelia Kahn, “the play is constantly critical of the feud as the medium through which criteria of patriarchally oriented masculinity are voiced”. Moreover, the fact that Mercutio takes part in the feud although he is neither a Capulet nor a Montague reveals that “feuding has become the normal social pursuit for young men in Verona” (176). Lastly, the nature of the feud involves obscene sexual innuendo towards women, something that becomes evident when someone considers the puns the Capulet servants make with language referring to sexuality, such as their wordplay regarding Montague’s women virginity: “I will cut off their heads…Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads; take / it in what sense thou wilt” (1.1.20-24). These puns, as Coppelia Kahn states it “attest that fighting in the feud demonstrates virility as well as valor” because Sampson and Gregory feel, that by using their male nature to take women by force, they show their dominance to the Montague…show more content…
“The lovers want to live in union; the death-dealing feud opposes their desire” (Kahn 185) and the play suddenly turns into a tragedy. Thus, the feud plays a crucial role in the dramatic development of the play. Firstly, it is the feud which causes Tybald to kill Mercutio, as “To Tybald, a sword can only mean a challenge to fight, and peace is such a word” (Kahn 174). Furthermore, due to this conflict Romeo murders Tybald in order to take revenge for his friend’s death and in this way according to Paster he bothers the completion of his secret marriage with Juliet
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