Parents give their children life, and generally support and guide them until they can begin to live independently−but can givers of life also be the cause of their children’s deaths? In Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, there are two feuding families: the Montagues and the Capulets. If the Montagues and Capulets had gotten along, Romeo and Juliet would have been able to marry freely. The parents’ distant relationships with their children force Romeo and Juliet to turn to other adults in their lives for help and advice. If their relationships had been better, perhaps they could have advised their children to make better decisions. Juliet is rushed into marrying Paris by her parents. This makes her panic and rush to Friar Lawrence, desperate to find a solution no matter what. Romeo and Juliet die because of their parents, whose roles in their children’s lives are negative on many levels. They do not offer the parental guidance and caring support that could have prevented Romeo’s and Juliet’s deaths.
If there had not been a feud between the families, Romeo and Juliet would have been free to marry each other, and the events leading up to their deaths, such as Juliet taking the poison to avoid an unwanted marriage, could have been avoided. The parents had the ability to end the feud if they had chosen to do so. “The continuance of their parents’ rage / Which, but their children’s end, naught could remove” (1.Prologue.10-11), forces Romeo and Juliet to keep their love a secret. They “may not have access / To breathe such vows as lovers use to swear” (2.Prologue.9-10).
If the parents had a better relationship with their children, even if the families didn’t get along, perhaps their children would have turned to them instead of other adults, such as Friar Lawrence, and their deaths would have been averted. Growing up with parents who did not give them the proper attention or care may have made them extremely eager to escape from their parents’ watchful, and perhaps constraining, eyes, which made their decisions hasty and not thought out.
Romeo’s parents could have protected him from his banishment. Although Montague does try to protect him from punishment at first, saying, “He was Mercutio’s friend / His fault concludes but what the law should end” (3.1.193-4). He means that Romeo didn’t kill Mercutio and was justified in his killing of Tybalt. They do not take any other actions to defend him or help him after he was banished. They also do not help him prepare to leave Verona; Friar Lawrence helps him make a plan, not his parents. Juliet’s parents could have given Juliet advice about her feelings about Romeo.
Despite the lack of communication and affection, they do not hate their children. Lady Montague fears that Romeo was involved in the fight, and she asks where he is: “Where is Romeo? Saw you him today? / Right glad I am he was not at this fray” (1.1.119). Lady Montague also dies of grief after Romeo killed himself, which Montague reports: “Grief of my son’s exile hath stopped her breath” (5.3.119). The Capulet parents think they know best in making Juliet marry Paris. When Lord Capulet finds out that Juliet does not want to marry Paris, he says, “Doth she not count her blessed… / that we have wrought / so worthy a gentleman to be her bride?” (3.5.148-150) He regards Paris as “a gentleman of noble parentage” (3.5.191), as someone with wealth and a good reputation, which overrides Juliet’s feelings and opinions.
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There is a lack of trust in the families and an emotional block between parents and children. When Lord Montague is asked if he knew why Romeo was sad, he says, “I neither know it nor can learn of him” (1.1.147). This shows us that Romeo is not open with his father, which Montague realizes. Lord Capulet calls Juliet a “disobedient wretch” (3.5.166). He views himself as Juliet’s superior, whom she must obey and respect at all times. He only forgives Juliet for refusing to marry Paris when she learns to “repent the sin / of disobedient opposition” (4.2.18-9).
If Juliet’s parents hadn’t rushed her into marrying Paris, perhaps Juliet would have waited to come up with a better solution. She is so rushed into an unwanted situation that she accepts the first solution offered: the potion. Juliet’s mother tells her that “early next Thursday morn…” (3.5.117), Paris will marry her. When Juliet protests and pleads with her father to change his mind, Capulet responds with harsh, nasty words: “Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch! / …get thee to church o’ Thursday, / Or never after look me in the face” (3.5.166-8). He, along with Lady Montague, is telling her that if she does not follow their wishes, she will be forced to find her own way in the world, with no support from them. This threat added to her fright in this situation. Desperately, Juliet tells Friar Lawrence, “O, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris” (4.1.78), which conveys her panic and desperation to avoid this marriage. If her opinion had been asked, and she had more time to think it over, she could have made a more rational decision. In addition, if she felt that her parents would support her, she most likely would not have agreed to such a risky plan.