Love and hate both occur many times during the course of the play, love and hate could be addressed as the two main focuses from the play. The play, Romeo and Juliet, is a tragedy but it still could be said that love triumphs over hate by the end of the play. The final scene of the play ends with Romeo killing himself when he finds out Juliet is dead and Juliet waking from sleep and finding Romeo dead. The two families, Montague’s and Capulet’s, then put an end to their long reigning feud.
This is when it could be said that love conquers hate, however this could also be viewed as a ‘hollow victory’, this describes that although the feud has been put to an end many lives have been lost in the process, including: Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, Tybalt and Paris. When Juliet and Paris are found dead that is when the first signs of caring between the two feuding families start to emerge, unfortunately for the two families and the whole of Verona they realise that the feud was pointless after so many lives have been lost and even their own children having died.
Between the Montague’s and Capulet’s an ‘ancient grudge’ exists, the prologue from the play tells us a summary of the events that happen within the play ‘a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life’, how long the play is ‘is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage’. The prologue also tells us things like where the play is set ‘In fair Verona’ and how long the play will be ‘Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage’.
The prologue and act 1 scene 1 tells us who the feud is between, the two rival families the Capulet’s and the Montague’s, however between the prologue and act 1 scene 1 the play still fails to tell us why the two families hate each other. In act one scene one the fight between the two Capulet servants and the Montague servants is started even by the two sides seeing each other, this demonstrates how seriously the feud is taken between the two families, not only do the ‘masters’ of the Capulet’s and Montague’s fight between each other but the feud even extends to the servants of each family.
Although the fight is implied that it will start when the servants of the two families see each other it in fact begins when the servants from each family insult each other ‘Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it. ‘ The main individual characters within the play act differently towards the feud and how it is dealt with. Tybalt is known as the ‘prince of cats’ for his swordsmanship, Tybalt’s lust for fighting and victory over the Montague’s fuels the feud a great deal.
As it is seen when Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo then takes his revenge on Tybalt by killing him, this again fuels the feud. Tybalt’s attitude is more warlike than many other characters, he tries to start fights rather than attempting to stop them, which is more like Benvolio attempts to do. Capulet is another character who alongside Tybalt, can be seen as trying to keep the feud going until the Capulet family wins. He usually is not involved within the actual fights but tries to show his youthfulness by appearing like he would like to fight alongside the rest of his family members.
He doesn’t appear to actively encourage the fighting in the feud like Tybalt does, however he does seem to enjoy the fighting that occurs from the feud right up until the end of the play, after Romeo and Juliet die. Montague’s character is more neutral, he wants the Montague family to win the feud however he doesn’t encourage the fighting, he seems to want a peace more than a war between each family although he would like to see this peace at the hands of a Montague victory.
Benvolio is seen within the play as a peacemaker, early on during the play Benvolio attempts to stop a fight between the two war waging families, although he successfully does this later on he appears to not be as successful. The Prince acts as the main peacemaker of the play ‘Will they not hear? – What ho, you men, you beasts! That quench the fire of your pernicious rage with purple fountains issuing from your veins’.
Later on during the play the Prince becomes more forceful at attempting to stop the feud; firstly he threatens to end the life of those who disobey his command to stop the feud whilst secondly he banishes Romeo from Verona to Mantua. The Prince’s attitude towards the feud can therefore be summarised by saying that he is wholeheartedly against the fighting that the feud produces and the feud itself, we can assume this from the punishments he threatens, the punishments he gives and the way in which he speaks about his negative view on the feud.