The unique conflicts in Romeo and Juliet.
“A plague a both your houses!” (III. I.) This is just one example of the many intense conflicts seen in Romeo and Juliet. The conflicts that arise throughout this story range from the cruel heckling of the Nurse to a murder in the streets. I have found that the most interesting conflicts during the story were when Mercutio picked a fight with Tybalt and ended up losing his life, when Romeo and Mercutio were making fun of Juliet’s nurse, and in the very beginning of the tale where the servants of the two houses started a quickly escalating brawl out of a simple argument.
As for the servant’s brawl, the Capulet servants picked a fight in the streets by “biting their thumbs” at the Montague servants. The scene rapidly grew into a ferocious melee between the two houses. Even the lords came and joined the battle! Some people were wounded, others were killed. In the end, the Prince came out with his royal procession and proclaimed that if any more fighting was observed, it would be punishable by death.
Perhaps a slightly less serious conflict took place when Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio went to meet with Juliet’s nurse. Their heated argument started when Romeo makes and inference comparing the nurse to a ship. Mercutio then follows up his comment with an insult of his own after the nurse requests Peter to get her fan, “Good Peter, to hide her face; for her fan’s the fairer face.” (II. iv.) Later on, after everyone leaves, Romeo attempts to compensate the nurse for her sufferings at the hands of Mercutio.
The last conflict that I will discuss probably has the most dire consequences, over the most trivial argument. The famous scene begins when Mercutio rashly starts picking a fight with Tybalt. Mercutio eventually goes so far as to draw his rapier on Tybalt. Unfortunately for him, Tybalt accepts his challenge and they fight. Remembering the Prince’s words about conflicts in the streets, Romeo attempts to secure peace between them, but it was to no avail. Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, and he shortly dies after cursing plagues on the houses of the Capulets and the Montagues.
Shortly, Tybalt returns to challenge Romeo, and Romeo kills him. Benvolio urges Romeo to flee, because of the promised death sentence from the Prince. Benvolio tells the Prince what happened, and since there were deaths on both sides, the Prince banishes Romeo to the nearby town of Mantua.
This conflict impacts the story by making it interesting to read, and gives the reader the feeling that anything can happen at any time. Without conflict, this book would just be another love story with a happy ending. By making Romeo and Juliet rife with conflict, Shakespeare sets it apart from other standard love stories where the characters end up living happily ever after.