The Relevance of Shakespeare's Play: Topics Conflict and Hate, the Generation Gap and Identity Crisis

Some may question why the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is so profoundly evocative for everybody? It is due to the many themes explored in the play, still current in today’s society. Hence, why there will never be a play to replace Shakespeare’s timeless classic, enriched with an abundance of relatability and relevance. Throughout the story, we experience every aspect of humanity. Shakespeare clearly demonstrates the extremely relevant themes of conflict and hate, the generation gap, and identity crisis. Despite the fact it was written over four hundred centuries ago, Shakespeare’s themes and motives never cease to be pertinent in today’s society.

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The prologue sets a scene of “an ancient grudge… where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” This theme of hate is found in the rivalry between ‘The Capulets’ and ‘The Montagues’. The loathing between the two families had a significant influence on the family members and citizens of Verona, just as hatred has many impacts on our world today. As you all know, hatred is still present, wreaking havoc on society, and taking many innocent lives. All tragedies in the play were a result of the civil disorder between the Capulets and Montagues. Their conflict was responsible for the suicide deaths of Romeo and Juliet as it had a significant impact on their love for each other, forcing them apart. The suicide of the ‘Star-crossed lovers’ raises awareness and reveals the consequences of meaningless hatred. The aftermath of this unnecessary conflict and violence teaches us that hatred is destructive and will always result in a disastrous outcome. As Mahatma Gandhi says, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

All teenagers in modern society face the challenges of molding their identities, surrounded by the many labels and stereotypes constantly shoved in their faces. Evidence suggests that rates of depression, self-harm, and anxiety among young people today are at shocking levels. Shakespeare displays the most significant aspect of a person’s identity through suggesting that identity is not formed around one’s title but through their actions and feelings. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet implies that a name does not define a person’s value, but distinguishes one from another. Juliet’s love for Romeo is forbidden merely due to the labels of being a Montague and a Capulet. The two characters rebel against these stereotypes, challenging their identities, in order to fulfill their desires. The conflict that arose immediately after Romeo and Juliet’s attempt to rebel against their families exemplifies that when one applies the change to their identity, the result leads to great misfortune. In the case of Shakespeare’s play, the tragic outcome was death. Romeo and Juliet’s identity crisis relates to the teenagers in modern society in the way that teenagers rebel against the authority figures in their lives in order to explore, gain freedom, and ‘find themselves.

Shakespeare’s inclusion of the generation gap forces us teenagers to question if parents really know best? The story is based around two young teens being failed by older people in power which is irrefutably relevant in today’s society. I’m sure there have been numerous occasions you have felt let down or misunderstood by the ‘superior generation’. How many times have you heard “you kids these days are up to no good” or ‘You’re just too young to understand? let’s face it, adults will always perceive us to be reckless daredevils incapable of being responsible for ourselves. “Is there no pity sitting in the clouds, that sees into the bottom of my grief?” In this reference, Juliet reveals the generation gap demonstrated throughout the play. Juliet’s grief towards this situation of being forced to marry Paris brings attention to the emotional struggle many young children still endure to this day due to arranged marriage. Arranged child marriage is a global issue that has been practiced for centuries. According to girlsnotbrides.org, over twelve million girls are married before the age of 18 each year. Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ explores the theme of there being a generation gap between the older and younger generations, hence the broad number of teenagers able to relate to the story.

Everything about Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is unquestionably relevant in modern society. Shakespeare’s use of the relatable themes, being conflict and hate, the generation gap, and identity crisis assure his play will never obtain irrelevancy, so long as these tragic circumstances are still current today. It is fairly obvious why, after centuries passed, this play has stood the test of time, and is still beyond doubt, one of the most relevant and consistent stories there has ever been.  

07 July 2022

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