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'Romeo And Juliet' - Values And The Human Condition (Also A Bit On Donne's 'The Sunne Rising')

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Whilst time and place usually do change our values, the human condition remains essentially the same. Such a testimony can be seen in the play �Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare as the values of fate, love and hate, and excess and moderation are being displayed.

Values are defined as the concept that describes the beliefs of an individual or culture, whereas the human condition encompasses the totality of the experience of being human and living human lives. Thus, it is clear that our values are indeed affected by time and place, whereas the human condition is universal as it describes the joy, terror and other feelings or emotions associated with being and existence.

The idea of fate is most prominent throughout вЂ?Romeo and Juliet’. The play begins with a prologue, which states "A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life” (prologue) clearly affirming that the fair tale of Romeo and Juliet is to end in death as they were destined by the stars to bad fortune. The idea of fate permeates the play for the audience, as well as for the characters, as Romeo and Juliet constantly perceive omens foreshadowing their tragic end. Upon entering the party held in Capulet’s mansion, Romeo foretells his grim future, “With this night’s revels, and expire the term/ Of a despised life closed in my breast/ By some vile forfeit of untimely death.” (Act 1, Scene 4) as he claims that by entering the mansion, he is allowing fate to take control of his life and cause his premature death. Later in the play, Romeo cries that he is "fortune's fool" (Act 3 Scene 1), Juliet exclaims that she has an "ill-divining soul" (Act 3, Scene 5) and Romeo’s predictions even extend into his dreams as he says "I dreamt my lady came and found me dead" (Act 5, Scene 1). In fact, the seemingly ill-timed coincidences which lead to the death of Romeo and Juliet are also most important factor bringing the ideas of fate and inevitability into the play.

The idea of fate was greatly valued in Shakespeare’s Elizabethan society as the greater majority of the population were Christian. The Christian religion provided order and meaning to the Elizabethan society through the supposed existence of a higher power, which brought along the ideas of predestination and fate. Today, the idea of faith would raise a lot of questions as the value of fate relies very heavily on one’s personal opinion. As Shakespeare is asking the audience to consider the idea of fate through �Romeo and Juliet’, it would seem that the human condition in questioning the existence of fate and one’s control over their own life has remained fundamentally the same after so many centuries.

In вЂ?Romeo and Juliet’, hate is strongly embodied through the vicious feud between the Montagues and the Capulets. The feud is introduced with, “from ancient grudge to break new mutiny,” (prologue) which describes it as a senseless grudge held by both families. This hatred permeates through all society, resulting in a world which embraces hate. Although feuds of such extremity are not common within the average village or town today, hate without reason can definitely relate to us all.

The idea of all-consuming, excessive love is a most prominent theme within вЂ?Romeo and Juliet’. From the very first glimpse of each other, both Romeo and Juliet fall deeply in love as Romeo’s infatuation with Rosaline is immediately forgotten. Romeo exclaims, “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it sight!/ For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night!” (Act 1, Scene 5) Romeo and Juliet then prove, through the most extreme situations, their undying love for one another. Although such extreme measures merely for the sake of love are usually not taken today human



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