Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet


William Shakespeare

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Romeo and Juliet Themes

Read our modern English translation.
Themes and Colors
Love and Violence Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
Language and Wordplay Theme Icon
Family and Duty Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Romeo and Juliet, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Love and Violence

“These violent delights have violent ends,” says Friar Laurence in an attempt to warn Romeo, early on in the play, of the dangers of falling in love too hard or too fast. In the world of Romeo and Juliet, love is not pretty or idealized—it is chaotic and dangerous. Throughout the play, love is connected through word and action with violence, and Romeo and Juliet’s deepest mutual expression of love occurs when…

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Though much of Romeo and Juliet is driven by the choices its main characters make and the actions they take, there is a dark undercurrent running throughout the play: the suggestion that fate, not free will, is behind the entirety of the human experience. Repeated references to fate and fortune throughout the play underscore Shakespeare’s suggestion that humans are merely pawns in a larger cosmic scheme—invisible but inescapable fates, Shakespeare argues throughout the play, steer…

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Individuals vs. Society

When Romeo and Juliet fall in love, their individual desire for each other—which flies in the face of their families’ “ancient grudge” and thus the social order of Verona, a city run by noble families like the Montagues and Capulets—places them in direct opposition with the society of which they’re both a part. As Romeo and Juliet fall deeper and deeper in love, they come up against their friends, their families, and the political and…

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Language and Wordplay

Shakespearean scholars have identified upwards of 175 instances of puns and wordplay throughout the text of Romeo and Juliet. Though the play is, perhaps, Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, there is no shortage of comic relief throughout the action—and the play’s comedy often comes from Shakespeare’s free dispensation of double entendre, homonyms, puns, and sexually explicit twists of phrase. Throughout the play, Shakespeare uses language and wordplay to radical ends: language is a tool of…

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Family and Duty

Though the forbidden love between Romeo and Juliet lives at the heart of the play and drives much of its action, their love is only forbidden in the first place due to the “ancient grudge,” or feud, between the noble houses of Capulet and Montague. The source of the age-old fight between the two families is never explained or even hinted at—all that is clear is that these houses loathe each other and will leap…

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