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Comparison of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1640 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Shakespeare is known as the best poet and has written 37 plays. Shakespeare earned his title of the best poet for repeatedly making good plays and has written a good amount also. Shakespeare’s work is important to modern popular culture through his plays Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth.

Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy where their deaths reconcile their family’s problems with each other. Romeo and Juliet’s families have a feud with each other and don’t want Romeo and Juliet to be together. They get together and eventually both die causing their feud to end.

According to the prologue in Romeo and Juliet the feud exists between, “Two households, both alike in dignity, / In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, / From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, / Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean”. On the final page the feud ends, with capulet saying “O brother Montague, give me thy hand: /This is my daughter’s jointure, for no more /Can I demand.” Montague responds But I can give thee more: /For I will raise her statue in pure gold; /That while Verona by that name is known, /There shall no figure at such rate be set./As that of true and faithful Juliet.” Capulet’s final remarks are, “As rich shall Romeo’s by his lady’s lie; /Poor sacrifices of our enmity!”

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The feud started way back between the families and it was so long ago that nobody remembered why it began. Only once Romeo and Juliet are finding love does their families’ feud reignite like fireworks. The feud is unexpected in a civil society like Verona where everyone is expected to be respectful. The final quote from above is significant because it shows the shock and dismay of both the Capulet’s and Montague’s responses to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. The end of the feud was sudden and clear to both families.

Pressures of families that can create unintended negative outcomes for their children. Romeo and Juliet’s deaths were the unintended consequences of the feud.

According to licensed social worker, Amy Morin, “Putting too much pressure on children is harming them.” She states, “kids feel like each homework assignment is going to make or break their future or that each soccer game could determine if they get a college scholarship, that pressure will have negative consequences.” Morin cites 7 dangers as, “Higher rates of mental illness… Increased rate of suicide… Self esteem problems… Sleep deprivation… Higher risk of injuries…increased likelihood of cheating… refusing to participate.”

This shows that the family support and expectations can have serious and opposite effects than intended on the children. Family values and priorities are good but when taken to the extreme can have consequential effects. For the capulets and the montagues they were so caught  up with the feud that they stopped seeing what was happening with their children. The same is happening now. To conclude family pressures are nothing new. The pressures felt by Romeo and Juliet had extreme consequences. Unfortunately many children are feeling family pressure to do a lot of good things with little support. 

Hamlet is a tragedy in which hamlet is looking for revenge for his father’s death but ends up dead himself.

Hamlet is fueled by revenge and self doubt, that mostly keeps him from taking action until the end of the play.

Hamlet promises revenge after hearing from the ghost, “If thou didst ever thy dear father love . . . / Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (1.5.23-25).   From Act V, Scene 1 Hamlet states “How absolute the knave is! we must speak by the/ card, or equivocation will undo us. By the Lord, / Horatio, these three years I have taken a note of/it; the age is grown so picked that the toe of the/ peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he/ gaffs his kibe. How long hast thou been a/ grave-maker?” 

The scene with the ghost is important because it sets hamlet up for his quest of revenge and also for the confusion he had during the play. Towards the end of the play Hamlet is faced with the understanding that people are all the same when dead. It doesn’t matter if someone is a king or a peasant.

People still seek revenge in small or big ways and revenge can be looked at as a good thing.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, murder victim families, “Mr. Hall writes “[t]he death penalty … stands as the concept’s polar opposite.” Commuting all of Missouri’s death sentences to life in prison without parole, he says, “would be a true gesture of restorative justice.” Also, “more killing in no way honors my daughter’s memory or provides solace to my family.” Ron carlson asked, “As a society, shouldn’t we be more civilized than the murderers we condemn?”

This shows that people who have someone in their family die initially will want revenge. But as hamlet showed revenge is messy and confusing. Hamlet ended up dead while getting revenge, the same thing can happen today. Seeking revenge is still messy and confusing and can end up making things worse.

For these reasons killing for revenge just makes things worse and is not worth it.

 Macbeth and Lady Macbeth work together in pursuit of power and end up dead.

Lady MacBeth and Macbeth work together to make Macbeth King.  Both of the characters start out very loyal to each other as they work to make Macbeth King.

 Lady Macbeth states “I have given suck, and know/ How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me: / I would, while it was smiling in my face,/ Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,/ And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you/ Have done to this.   (1.7.54-59)…”

Lady Macbeth was driven by wanting power, but still was loyal to her husband in the beginning. Macbeth loved Lady Macbeth and wanted to make her happy as he became king.  He felt like he was forced to do it.  They acted ruthless in this pursuit and it ended up tearing them apart.

In the end, the loyalty that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth showed one another is gone. Their relationship is over. 

According to Money magazine, “The researchers, from Purdue University…observed declines in emotional well-being and life satisfaction after the $95,000 mark, …can lead to unhealthy social comparisons and unfulfilling material pursuits.”

This shows that people may attain power and material success, but that does not mean they are any happier because of it. Lady Macbeth kills herself and then Macbeth loses power by being killed himself.  Today power and money are looked at as important.  But, just like in Macbeth, it doesn’t make relationships better.

For these reasons, Macbeth shows how destroying the pursuit of power can be and how it can ruin relationships. 

The themes in Shakespeare’s plays Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth are the same themes in modern culture today.

In all of shakespeare’s tragic plays mentioned above the main characters lose their paths in life and what is really important to them. In Romeo and Juliet it shows how family pressures, a feud, can lead to unintended effects. In Hamlet, his desire for revenge took away Hamlet’s ability to think clearly and make good decisions. The focus on revenge has a bad effect on all involved. In the play Macbeth, just as the modern research shows, great power (money) leads to unhappiness and loss of relationships. 

Shakespeare understood how people worked and made that the themes in his plays and that is why they are still being published today. 

Works Cited:

  • Center, deathpenaltyinfo.org/new-voices-victims-families.
  • “Detailed Summary of Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5.” Hamlet Navigator: Summary of Act 1, Scene 5,
  • “Detailed Summary of Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 7.” Macbeth Navigator: Summary of Act 1, Scene 7,
  • Family, Verywellfamily, 8 Jan. 2019, www.verywellfamily.com/the-dangers-of-putting-too-much-pressure-on-kids-1094823.
  • Morin, Amy. “Consequences Kids May Experience If You’re a High-Pressure Parent.” Verywell
  • “New Voices – Victims’ Families.” New Voices – Victims’ Families | Death Penalty Information
  • “This Amount of Money May Buy Happiness, Research Says.” Money, money.com/money/5157625/ideal-income-study/.
  • SparkNotes, SparkNotes, www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/romeojuliet/summary/.
  • “The Feud.” Romeo and Juliet Navigator: Themes: The Feud, shakespeare-navigators.com/romeo/Feud.html. 
  • Romeo and Juliet: Entire Play, shakespeare.mit.edu/romeo_juliet/full.html.
  • SparkNotes, SparkNotes, www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/hamlet/summary/.
  • shakespeare-navigators.com/hamlet/One5.html.
  • shakespeare-navigators.com/macbeth/S17.html.


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