In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the older characters are shown to be cynical and controlling. This control is most evident when Juliet’s father gives her hand in marriage to Paris the governor’s son, against her wishes.
Shakespeare portrays youth more favourably. This is shown by the fun loving Mercutio the most, he loved life and wished the people closest to him to have nothing but fun.
The feud has no point in the world of fair Verona and is carried on by the parents of Romeo and Juliet, each teaching their children to hate. The Montague’s and Capulet’s are fools to carry on with the feud, even the Prince is fed up with it saying “If ever you disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay forfeit…” was his proclamation after the first fight.
Juliet’s nurse is a very cynical old woman. She wants Juliet to be happy, but she doesn’t approve of Romeo. She shows loyalty to Juliet and not her parents when she helped to set up the marriage with Romeo, and was carrying messages between the two young lovers. The nurse is un-ladylike and crude when speaking to Juliet about men and her future. “Thou wilt fall backward when thou has more wit wilt thou not Jule? I get the feeling that the nurse loves Juliet more than her parents do.
The Friar tried to help the two families to have peace by assisting Romeo to wed Juliet, and therefore force the end of the feud. But he was not completely convinced that Romeo was in love with Juliet as only a short time before Romeo had fallen for another. Still he agreed to wed them saying “but come young waverer, go with me in one respect I’ll thy assistant be.” The friar’s deceit only made things worse.
Both Romeo and Juliet’s parents are controlling, but most especially Juliet’s. When her father tells her she is to be wed to Paris and she says she does not want to marry him he is exceedingly cruel to Juliet saying, “Out you green sickness carrion! Out you baggage. Hang the young baggage, disobedient wretch!” He ragged Juliet about and her mother was given a slap. When Juliet asked her mother for help she said “Say what thou wilt, for I have done with thee.” Romeo’s parents are not as bad but still were concerned about his lifestyle. In the end they all realised how wrong they were to hate each other and to expect the young to carry on the feud.
The younger people in this are so much more active than the older people. Benvolio, Romeos cousin, offered peace to Tybalt at the first fray. He was sensitive toward Romeo when he was upset, “I weep at thy good hearts transgression.” He was a good friend to Romeo.
Mercutio was full of life and just wanted fun for himself and everyone around him, “gentle Romeo we must have you to dance”, But when Romeo refused, Mercutio lost his temper and went into a speech about Queen Mab, the fairy midwife. When Tybalt at Sycamore Grove attacked Romeo, Mercutio attacked Tybalt to protect Romeo and was killed.
Tybalt was all about family honour; everything he did was for the family. He was brave as was shown when he joined the first quarrel and stood against Benvolio with no drawn weapon.
Paris was the sort of man who Juliet’s parent wanted for her to wed. He was always kind to her and he never raised his voice.
The people we identify most with in Romeo and Juliet are the lovers, as everybody dreams of love and we wish that we could have something as special. Romeo was a kind and gentle, loving young man who was in touch with his emotions. He felt alone at the start of the play and so he wrote sad poetry. Even when he spoke to Paris he was not angry. Romeo shows no bad will for anyone until Tybalt killed Mercutio.
Juliet was a naive young girl. She did not know what a man was like until she met Romeo at her parents ball. She was much like any other young person, wilful, strong headed and openly disobedient to her parents. When her mother told her that Romeo was a Montague she still went with him. When her father tried to give her hand in marriage she defied him by telling him that she would rather die than marry Paris. When Juliet asked the priest for help he gave her a potion to make her falsely appear dead, but failed to get word to Romeo in time. When Romeo came back to Verona after being exiled it was because he had heard of Juliet’s death. When he found her the potion still had not worn off, so he thought her to be dead. He took his own life with a poison strong enough to kill twenty men. Just before he died Juliet awoke and found Romeo to be dying and kissed him to try and get poison from his lips. There was none left and with that Romeo said “Thus with a kiss I die.” And he did.
In the epilogue the Prince said “Capulet! Montague! See what a scourge is laid upon your hate that heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.”
In conclusion I think that the younger people in Romeo and Juliet are not as much to blame for the star cross’d lovers deaths as the older more oppressive parents, the meddling Nurse and the deceitful Friar.