The tone of
The play’s tone suggests sex is a natural, inevitable part of life for characters regardless of age or gender. Mercutio indulges in sexual wordplay in virtually every one of his speeches. The Nurse is sometimes not even aware of the secondary sexual meaning of her lines: “I’ll take him down, and ’a were lustier than he is” (2.4.). The tone of frank acceptance of the facts of life helps us to sympathize with the lovers, who are compelled to break important social rules by the force of their desire.
The play’s tone is not just non-judgemental about the characters’ sexual desires, but is in fact celebratory of the central love story between Romeo and Juliet. Although the characters may initially come across as frivolous, suggesting we should view their love with skepticism, the depth and validity of their passion are soon established. While Juliet worries about being perceived as “light,” or promiscuous, for falling in love with Romeo so quickly, the tone of the play suggests Romeo and Juliet’s love is serious, and they are both admirable characters.
Tragedies traditionally feature noble figures such as kings or generals, yet Shakespeare chose two ordinary teens for the play, suggesting their story is as worthy and important as that of more celebrated individuals. Romeo’s friends and Juliet’s family value the characters, furthering the sense of them as worthy of our respect. And the intensely poetic language of the balcony scene and other love scenes elevate imply that the lovers’ plight is of lasting import and should be taken seriously.
While sex and love are presented as positive, natural forces in
Romeo and Juliet shows us the grief that follows violence and death, and the tremendous remorse the characters feel at the loss of life. While the play ends with the suggestion that the violence and death has been useful in resolving the feud between the two families, the price of this resolution is extremely high: the peace is “glooming;” “the sun, for sorrow, will not show his head.” (5.3.) The elegiac tone of the ending of the play suggests the pain of violence outweighs any potential benefits.