Nobody who has either heard or seen the tale of “Romeo and Juliet” can deny that two of the strongest themes found within it are love and hate – in many different forms. Even in the beginning of the play, this is made known to the audience, primarily by the lines, “From forth the fated loins of these two foes, A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life” (Prologue). This clearly shows both the hatred and love which can be found, but is not the only example. “Romeo and Juliet” not only has the love between the two main characters, but the brotherly love and sinister hatred between many others.
It is harder to say whether love or hate is more prominent in “Romeo and Juliet”, but love plays an extremely important role – especially when the two lovers meet for the first time. Right away, Romeo is awestruck at Juliet’s beauty, proclaiming, “Did my heart love til now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night!” (I.v). Although he claims to be ‘in love’ with Rosaline, he becomes a victim of falling ‘in love at first sight’. This love is certainly not unrequited love though – although Juliet did not even know his name, she still asks, “Go ask his name. If he be married, my grave is to be like my wedding bed” (I.v). Clearly, she is already so much in love that she shall ‘die from grief’ if she finds out Romeo is already married.
Although Romeo is in love with Juliet so much that he refuses to fight his one-time enemy, the murder of a close friend (whether accidental or not) forces a violent reaction out of him. When originally ‘taunted’ by Tybalt, he refuses to fight, saying, “I do protest I have never injured thee, but love thee better than thou canst devise…And so, good Capulet…be satisfied” (III.i). He further continues in this way, by saying, “Gentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up” (III.i).
However, Tybalt does not listen to reason, as was proven earlier on by his stating, “Peace? I hate the word as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee” (I.i). Onlookers to the fight cannot deny, although Romeo starts off with no intention to fight, he turns violent at the slaying of Mercutio. Challenging Tybalt, he shouts, “Either thou, or I, or both, must go with him” (III.i). It is at this point that both the hatred for Tybalt, and his love for Mercutio, overpower him, resulting in the murder of Tybalt.
The constant feuding the Montagues and the Capulets is well known to the citizens of Verona – it is a common practice. In street fights, even the heads of the houses cannot stay out of it, with Capulet demanding, “My sword, I say! Old Montague is come” (I.i). These fights force the Prince to step in, telling them it has to stop and stating, “Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word by thee, Old Capulet and Montague” (I.i). Even the citizens of Verona are aware of the fact that the feuding is on-going. This is one of the major examples of the hatred that is present throughout the play.
It is a wonder that Romeo and Juliet were able to overcome this hate, but both were able to accomplish it. Juliet, in one of the most famous scenes from the play, says, “Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet” (II.ii). She then goes on to say, “‘Tis but thy name which is my enemy…What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called” (II.ii). Juliet is asking herself about the differences between the Capulets and the Montagues, and saying that it does not matter about their backgrounds. All that matters is their love for each other.
It is their love for each other, certainly, which makes the two lovers kill themselves. It is a much harder thing to kill yourself than to kill others – killing yourself make sit final, whereas killing others, while still hard, is slightly easier, as they have motivations, and sometimes also hatred for the person. The death of Mercutio, and in turn the death of Tybalt is an example of that, where Romeo states in anger, “Alive and triumph, and Mercutio slain! Away to heaven respective lenity, And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now” (III.i). However, both Romeo and Juliet killed themselves due to the strong love they both felt for each other.
Overall, it is hard to say which is the stronger emotion – love or hate. Personally, I believe that love is stronger than hate, but it is really a matter of opinion – there is evidence to support both sides all throughout the play. One of the main things supporting that love is stronger than hate is Juliet’s reaction at finding out who Romeo is. She says to herself, “My only love, sprung from my only hate! To early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me, that I must love a loathed enemy” (I.v).