Shakespeare’s portrayal of conflict is evident in a variety of ways. The audience’s perception of the emotional and physical conflict relies on the language of the characters, character actions, and contrasting scenes reflecting the contrasting conflicts. Moral, emotional, religious, social and inner conflict area all expressed and explored throughout the play, from the very first scene. In this play there are four main types of violence/conflict: physical, verbal, internal, and difference in views or perspective.
Romeo and Juliet begins with the Prologue, a speech made by an actor (or ‘chorus’) before the main play begins. The Prologue foreshadows the events in the play, such as the deaths of Romeo and Juliet and tells the audience what the play will be about. Shakespeare uses the structure of the prologue to express the theme of love and conflict which occurs throughout the play. It is written in the sonnet form and is fourteen lines long with Iambic pentameter.When the Prologue mentions how the feud between the two houses (families), ‘From ancient grudge break to new mutiny/Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean,’ Shakespeare shows how violence and bloody conflict has affected the whole of Verona, whack in the 1500s, it would have. Like Mercutio, one of Shakespeare’s best friends died, in a street brawl.
A 16th century audience would have liked “Romeo and Juliet” because it is quick to jump into action as can be seen in the first scene of the play which opens with a fight in a public place in Verona between servants from the Montague and Capulet households. This starts by Sampson and Gregory – servants of the house of Capulet – going out with the intention of creating trouble. They soon find that they are in luck, as they see Abraham and Balthasar – servants of the house of Montague. When they see the opportunity of a fight, they immediately/ straight away start provoking each other. Sampson says to Gregory, “Quarrel, I will back thee” what he is saying is that he will back Gregory up, but at the same time is hinting that he does not want to be the one to start the fighting and wants Gregory to go first. The conflict starts off as verbal and would have ended up as physical had Benvolio not stepped in and separated the servants.
In Act I, scene 5 when Tybalt overhears Romeo talking with Juliet, he is angered by the fact that a Montague had gate crashed the ball at the Capulet household and sends for his ‘rapier’. He informs Capulet of Romeo’s presence and puts in his utmost efforts in convincing that Romeo and his gang should be thrown out, but despite his convincing words, Capulet rebukes him, addressing him as ‘boy’ – normally used only for servants – and tells Tybalt to leave him alone. He explains that Romeo is ‘virtuous and well-governed.’ However, Tybalt refuses to leave and Capulet reprimands him, calling him a ‘saucy boy.’ Tybalt’s only choice is to leave. However, he swears to take revenge.