Thursday, October 27, 2016

Romeo and Juliet as a Quest for Justice

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 As I read Romeo and Juliet, I kept finding instances where justice and the attainment of it became a center of focus for the characters of the play. Although it seems a little silly to me, personally, the drive for revenge found among the Montagues and the Capulets when any one of their respective parties is killed by the other is indicative of that. However, perhaps more compelling is the death of Romeo and the justice in that.
When Riley and I were discussing the play over Slack, we talked a little bit about Romeo's death being a form of justice in a way. I thought it was interesting how it appeared that Romeo felt responsible for Juliet’s death in a way. In my line of thinking, Romeo’s assumption that Juliet died of a broken heart caused by his banishment so soon after their wedding was cause for him to take his own life. Earlier in the play, Romeo demonstrated that he had very clear ideas of justice and how it ought to be carried out. Therefore, it should not be surprising that Romeo decided to take his own life in a sort of repayment for the supposed robbery of Juliet’s.
In fact, this determination was so strong that it even caused him to kill Paris at the Capulet tomb, something I do not think he would have done otherwise, since he had given up the feud with the house of Capulet, and Paris was not even of that family anyway. But since Paris got in his way, he had to go. Furthermore, I believe that this drive for justice is proved even more by the statement, “Here’s to my love”, made by Romeo just before he takes the poison. In my view, if you replace the word “to” with the word “for”, it gives corroboration to Romeo’s quest for justice, and it becomes a statement to the effect of:
“Here’s for my love. You died for me; now I will die for you.” 


  1. I like your idea that Romeo enacts justice on himself by killing himself rather than just killing himself out of despair, which was never a satisfying explanation for me. I might expand the idea so that he is not only enacting justice for the death of Juliet, but also for the other people who he killed, or who died because of his decisions throughout the play. It has been a while since I read the play, but I believe there are quite a few people who die because of Romeo, and I think it would be interesting to see how their deaths affected his decision as well.

  2. I like your ideas here! I think what you are referring to can be labeled as "poetic justice." According to the definition found here (, poetic justice is "an outcome in which vice is punished and virtue rewarded, usually in a manner peculiarly or ironically appropriate." That could be the whole theme of Romeo and Juliet! I think if you wanted to look at examples of poetic justice in other Shakespeare plays, you could make a great paper out of it.

  3. I think these ideas are great. The last line of your analysis, especially, is fantastic. It's always bothered me how Romeo is so quick to take his own life upon seeing Juliet's "dead" body, so it's a nice thought that Romeo had a more concrete reason than grief to kill himself. It would be cool if you could take his suicide and relate it to suicide in other literature- one I'm specifically thinking of is "Madam Bovary" by Gustave Flaubert. Her suicide had meaning, in her own deranged mind. Perhaps you could relate those two or others to emphasize your point.