Tendencies Towards Impulsivity In Romeo And Juliet
William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet is a world-renowned piece of literature about a tale of two star-crossed lovers. The characters in Romeo and Juliet are frequent victims to their own impulsivity. Impulsivity leads to rash decisions and ultimately negative consequences, even one’s death. The play’s characters Romeo, Juliet, and Tybalt all make impulsive decisions based on emotions and suffer from several negative outcomes because of what they have done. Romeo, the son of Lord and Lady Montague is a foolhardy teenager that has a habit of making decisions on the spur of his emotions. Romeo is easily enamored by women.
At first, he is completely infatuated with a fair lady named Rosaline. But when he attends the Capulet’s party and takes one glance at Juliet, Romeo is now smitten with Juliet instead. With Rosaline completely forgotten, Romeo basks in Juliet’s beauty. He thinks out loud saying: O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night Like a jewel in an Ethiop’s ear; Beauty too rich for use, for Earth too dear! So show a snowy dove trooping with crows, As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows. The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand, And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand. Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night. (Romeo and Juliet, 1.5.44-53). Romeo’s impulsive love for Juliet clouds up his ability to think properly. He’s just met Juliet, and falling in love with her despite not knowing who she is, nor what he’s getting himself into.
If Romeo had taken a moment to reflect, he could have gotten to know Juliet first. He would figure out that she was a Capulet, which would save him a lot of trouble. It would also allow him to contemplate more upon his next few steps with her. Romeo again falls victim to his impulsiveness and emotions when he kills Tybalt out of anger. Romeo is furious and distraught as Mercutio; one of his best friends gets slain by Tybalt. Romeo let his “fire-eyed fury be [his] conduct” (Shakespeare, 3.1.123) take control of him as he mercilessly kills Tybalt. Romeo’s ill-willed action now causes him faces the consequences of being a murderer and being banished from Verona. Romeo should have thought before he acted impulsively, He would have saved Tybalt’s life and be on his merry way in Verona.
But because of his impulsive actions, he suffers and receives neither. Lastly, Romeo’s impulsivity also leads him to his untimely demise. When Romeo sees Juliet’s body, he becomes so overcome with sadness. He is depressed to the point where he becomes thoughtless and blind to the signs that prove that Juliet is not dead after all. If Romeo had only paid more attention to Juliet’s “crimson in [her] lips, and in [her] cheeks” (5.3.95), he would have noticed that Juliet was indeed alive. Alas, his impulsivity leads him to drink a poison that kills himself so he could be with Juliet. All in all, it is clear that Romeo falls short when he should be thinking rationally. It is because of his impulsivity, that he makes rash decisions, even one that ends his own life. All very alike to Romeo, Juliet Capulet stumbles through her life because of her impulsiveness and poor life choices. Just as quickly as Romeo falls in love with her, Juliet’s is completely enamored with him too. When they meet up later that night at the Capulet’s party, Juliet’s shows some hesitancy with falling in love so quickly. She suggests that they should slow down.
But once Romeo begins proclaiming his love for her and coaxes her with affection, she immediately changes her mind. Juliet declares that they should “purpose marriage, [and Romeo is to] send [her] word to-morrow” (2.2.144) about the details. Juliet’s should have followed along with her hesitancy. If she had, Juliet would have pondered upon the situation more, and perhaps come up with a better plan. She would also not be pulled into the complications and challenges of their love so quickly. Juliet’s hasty attitude makes her unable to have saved herself from the detrimental consequences and inevitably her own death later on. Juliet once again makes an irrational decision when she immediately agrees with Friar Laurence’s plan. She does not even think about the consequences. She blindly accepts with a “[g]ive me, give me! O, tell not me of fear!” (4.1.121). Juliet’s rash settlement on following through with the plan so quickly ends up causing the tragic death of her beloved, Romeo. Romeo is misinformed to think that Juliet herself was dead. If Juliet had taken the time to reflect about the plan instead of being so desperate and rushed with her emotions, the outcome would have been more positive.
Following up, Juliet’s death was again caused by her hasty thinking and acting on emotions. What she sees Romeo dead, she is deeply distraught, so much so that she can not even think straight either. As Friar Laurence’s calls for her to leave with him go deaf to her ears, she sees Romeo’s dagger and unthinkingly stabs herself with it. She kills herself to rejoin with her love in the afterlife. Juliet’s death is distressing, but also very reckless and foolhardy. Her grief caused her to react impulsively and make the foolish decision in ending her life. Juliet’s could have lived a great life even with Romeo gone. But unfortunately, her life ended abruptly because of her impetuous and naive nature. It is visible that despite Juliet’s hesitation and rationalizations, her impulsivity guides her to make thoughtless choices, resulting in her own demise. Juliet’s cousin, the fiery Tybalt is also negatively affected by his own impulsive actions.
Easily provoked and temperamental, Tybalt frequently finds himself in fights that increases his rage which does not allow him to think logically. In the first scenes of the play, Tybalt unabashedly states his hate for the Montagues and in public area knowing that the Montagues are presents. He describes them as cowards and yelling that “[he] hate[s] hell, all Montague, and thee.” (1.1.69) This stirs up a huge fight in the streets, causing a lot of damage and disturbances. The Prince of Verona rides in and is furious and disappointed. Tybalt should have not provoked the Montague servants and start a fight in public. If he had not done so, it would have saved the Prince’s anger at the two families and the embarrassment of being told off by the Prince. Perhaps the Prince would have been more patient with them too. Moreover, Tybalt’s rage bleeds into his impulsive actions once again at the Capulet’s party. When he spots Romeo at the party, he is so brittle with anger that he brings this news to the attention of his uncle, Lord Capulet. Tybalt forgets that if their two families; Capulet and Montague start another fight, they will all be punished severely. Tybalt’s unthought out action ends up angering his uncle and calls Tybalt “saucy” (1.5.83) and a “goodman boy” (1.5.77) much to Tybalt’s displeasure. If Tybalt had calmed his rage and thought about his actions before impulsively going to his uncle, it would have saved him from the humiliation of being insulted and avoid causing Lord Capulet being angry with him. Tybalt could have enjoyed himself at the party, but instead, he held rage and vengeance towards Romeo. Sadly, Tybalt’s last rash decision from impulsively has cost him the lives of himself and Mercutio. Tybalt is hunting down Romeo when he gets into a fight with Mercutio. They both draw swords in resentment towards one another. Tybalt should have realized that Mercutio was not the one he really wanted to fight. This realization would have saved Mercutio life, and keep Tybalt’s hands clean from murder.
Furthermore, if Tybalt had just let his vengeance on Romeo go, or think before his violent actions, he would have avoided his own death. He could have the opportunity to build a stable relationship with Romeo once he found out that Romeo and Juliet are married. Unfortunately, Tybalt’s hot-headed personality causes him and his actions to burst out recklessly. This leads him to make to rash decisions that prevent him to pursue a much longer and happier life. Consequently, Romeo, Juliet, and Tybalt had let their emotions and impulsivity take over. It made them make countless, heedless decisions throughout their lifetime and even resulting in their demise. Thoughtless, rash choices made from impulsively leads to tragic end results. One must remember to think and remove strong emotions when making decisions in life. A clear mindset helps one identify the positives and negatives with every choice they make.
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