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View Full Version : Were Romeo and Juliet's actions justified?



Kassie
12-15-2005, 07:35 PM
Both Romeo and Juliet end up killing themselves once they thought or realized the other was dead. Were their actions justifed? Is suicide ever acceptable?

Potterbilia
04-04-2006, 02:55 AM
Personally I think suicide is the cowards way out. They thought there was no other way to be together, so they just gave up. They didn't even consider the idea that Juliet could go to Romeo in Mantua, and once their families realised how in love they were they might have agreed to let them stay there, and the Prince may even have pardoned Romeo. So although they might have thought their actions were justified, I think killing themselves was stupid and the 'easy way out', rather then actually solving the problem.

ElizabethSewall
04-04-2006, 03:17 AM
Don't you remember that Juliet was on her way to get married to Paris? She had no choice. Running away was no option at that historical time, especially when a girl with parents like the Capulets.
Finally I think you shouldn't judge suicide as coward or anything, unless you have known real despair or the loss of the person you loved more than anything. You should judge less and try to be more understanding maybe.

RobinHood3000
04-04-2006, 05:59 AM
Actually, I'm with Potterbilia, at least to some degree. Despair, though serious, almost never merits surrender. The energy expended contemplating and executing suicide is almost always better committed elsewhere. Suicide does nothing to help one's situation and is selfish in the extreme.

An excellent example is in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. When Christian missionaries come to an African village and are set at odds with the natives (to the point where it's pretty much war), the protagonist Okonkwo (the big man on campus) kills two officials who would have imprisoned him, and then hangs himself . The man had three wives and numerous children in his family, to say nothing of the village that depended on him for support. Whatever the reason he hanged himself, because it certainly wasn't remorse, Okonkwo betrayed the warrior he was at his core and doomed his village. His best friend even had to cut him down and (if I remember correctly) personally send his body to the wilderness in shame.

Personally, I think that a far more in-character action for Okonkwo would be to fall in battle against the ethnocentric white man. Since he evidently doesn't care about whether he lives or dies anymore, he had might as well make his point and not give the white man any more reason to patronize his people.

ElizabethSewall
04-04-2006, 09:09 AM
M'lord Robin I understand your point and I guess it depends of the situation. The thing is, though I probably didn't make it clear, I don't think it proper to judge something when we haven't lived it ourselves. Moreover, who are we to think something coward? We don't even know what thought could appear in our mind if we were in such a situation.
My point was just to make Poterbilia try to be more tolerant. I don't want to praise suicide, I just wish for people to be more understanding, even if they wouldn't act the same way...
I am probably not making any sense however!

RobinHood3000
04-04-2006, 03:01 PM
Who is to say who has and has not lived it?

Stanislaw
04-04-2006, 03:18 PM
Personally I think suicide is the cowards way out. They thought there was no other way to be together, so they just gave up. They didn't even consider the idea that Juliet could go to Romeo in Mantua, and once their families realised how in love they were they might have agreed to let them stay there, and the Prince may even have pardoned Romeo. So although they might have thought their actions were justified, I think killing themselves was stupid and the 'easy way out', rather then actually solving the problem.

Hmm, I used to think as such, but in some occasions it seems to be the only answer...maybe you have never felt as such. I beleive that the families would have never seen eye to eye so to speak, and the death of their most precious offspring brought to the awareness of the silliness of feuding.

But, suicide may seem like the cowards way out (no I am not condoning it if thats what you think) but it is a desperate mans way out, sometimes a human can only take so much, and then get drawn into a seductive method of apparent ease, which seems to be the only logical option...untill it is performed, and then it haunts you, like an addiction. trust me.

woahshesmagic
04-18-2006, 08:35 PM
Well i think that Juliet's suicide was totally justified. In her time, the Catholic religion was very strict right? And it was really uncommon to marry based on love. it was usually based on status. she and romeo did have a slight chance of being married until he killed tybalt. then he was banished which made their marriage impossible for them to tell their parents. therefore, juliet would have been married off to Paris and commited the sin adultry and gone to hell as their religion stated. and on top of that, she would live an extremly horrible life by leaving behind her one true love. suicide was basically her only option.

RobinHood3000
04-18-2006, 09:06 PM
But as her religion stated, the only plus is that she doesn't live the extremely horrible life. As far as Catholicism is concerned, Hell is as firmly attached to suicide as it is to adultery.

I wonder if perhaps becoming a nun and doing good works would have been an option for her. "It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything."

If I had a deathwish, I would pour my body and soul into being a vigilante, plain and simple. Live out a fantasy and maybe do some good. Being cut down while protecting others, if you'll excuse my language, is a helluva lot better than taking a few pills or tying a few knots. Sounds stupid. Probably is. But is there a good reason why I shouldn't? If nothing else, it'd make for a charming obituary and a far less grim funeral.

Suicide is never the only way out. It is only the most straightforward.

Regit
04-23-2006, 10:52 PM
"Suicide is never the only way out, it is only the most straightforward."

You glow of virtue Robin. And whilst I can choose to grin my teeth in envy of you, or laugh disdainfully at your arrogance, I choose instead to respect what you say, so long as it is about your life; for it belongs to you I believe; as much as Juliet's life belongs to her.

Yes, death is not the only way out. This is common sense: nothing has to be anything in an opinion. Nothing is ever the only anything if you stand and watch it from outside, or from the peak of Mt.Virtue. Nothing is ever the only anything unless we have to be there to make a choice, and unless we have made up our mind about it. But once you made a choice, especially that of death, then isn't it the only thing left? And for Juliet, death was the only choice, regardless of what you think.

How do you know that the choice of death is the most straightforward? Because it would avoid us further choices? Because it would save us the troubles of life? Or because it would make us give up a million beautiful things also belonging to life? Do you think Juliet so stupid as to not know that she was giving up these good things? Have you ever contemplated the choice between life and death, and choose life over death? How can you claim that death is a straightforward choice?

"...To die to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to? 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to dream; ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come"

Juliet made a difficult choice. She chose to be where her husband is rather than be "nobler in the mind" and live to face the heart-aches and the shocks that most of us would. As much as you can argue that she was weaker than most of us, so I can argue that we do not love as deeply as she. She devoted herself to her love. She truly believed that life held no more dreams for her, and so she chose that peaceful sleep. And I respect that as much as I respect how you choose to live your life. When we gaze at other's choices, we might form opinions; but we must remember that we are completely ignorant of their truth, and so must refrain ourselves from judging.

Choice, it is all down to. If you do not believe that God gives us life, then how would you rationalise that the choice to live or not is any different from any other choice? Ay, that if you choose not to live, it would be the last choice you make and the last pain you face. But is that enough to deem Juliet sinful, cowardly and to disrespect her choice, and, in doing so, her love? I don't think so. (Yes, I think that if you deem her death unjustified, then you have disrespected her love.)

"To be, or not to be..." That is up to us individually. And our reason? It's relative. So if you ask me whether Juliet's action was justified; I will answer: I don't know. But if I am asked whether I believe that she died for love and not simply to run away from a wretched life, then I will answer: yes, I believe so. I believe that her love was as true and as real as the physical difference between life and death; and also that such love is a good reason to die for.

ElizabethSewall
04-23-2006, 11:47 PM
I like what you said Regit and the way you said it. I don't really know why but I feel like saying thank you...

Regit
04-24-2006, 12:49 AM
I don't think it proper to judge something when we haven't lived it ourselves. Moreover, who are we to think something coward? We don't even know what thought could appear in our mind if we were in such a situation.

You said it first Elizabeth. And if my belief is correct that you share my view, then you are most welcome. And I thank you in return with the same gratitude for expressing it. I also like what you said and the way you said it.

RobinHood3000
04-24-2006, 06:06 AM
Dying for love? I do not see a connection. As flattered as I imagine Romeo may be if he knew, and as lovely a sentiment and gesture it is, I do not see how her killing herself honors her love for Romeo.

You ask how I can believe that the choice to take one's life differs from any other choice if I do not believe that God gives us life. So I shall answer. A lack of divine origin in life does not make it any more trivial or any less profound. Suicide may or may not be selfish, but one thing it is not is selfless. Instead of giving her life to others, she kept it for herself to take.

Yes, it's a nice binary for both of the lovers to die, properly ending the feud--in which case, I suppose it's understandable. But ending the feud was not the purpose she had in mind when she drew Romeo's blade.

Regit
04-24-2006, 03:49 PM
As lovely a sentiment and gesture it is, I do not see how her killing herself honors her love for Romeo... Yes, it's a nice binary for both of the lovers to die.
If you do not see how Juliet's death has honoured her love, then how is it a lovely sentiment and gesture? In fact, if you think that her death was not because of love, then you must think it a stupid, cowardly, and pointless sentiment and gesture. I think this was your original argument. And even if I assume that "lovely" and "nice" were sincere compliments, they would still present an insult as to the intention of Juliet in ending her own life, and they would not bring you any nearer to the middle ground of this discussion. You appear to be trying to preserve your image from being hurt by your own argument, or the diplomatic position that you hold. Frankly, it just makes your point weaker. Why don't I ignore your attempts to console, for whosoever benefit they may be, so that I might try to understand what you are trying to say. Remember, I do respect your side of the argument, just make sure you stay true to it whilst you present it.


You ask how I can believe that the choice to take one's life differs from any other choice if I do not believe that God gives us life. So I shall answer. A lack of divine origin in life does not make it any more trivial or any less profound. Suicide may or may not be selfish, but one thing it is not is selfless. Instead of giving her life to others, she kept it for herself to take.
So this is the body of your argument. You answered my question well and I agree with you; but you forgot to point out how it contradicts my reasons. Here is how it does not:

The fact that life is in our hands and not God’s makes life our choice. And if indeed life without a divine origin is no less profound, then would it not make death even more difficult a choice? It is more difficult, but not different in any other way. What you are arguing is the reason for which one should choose to die, not whether life’s profundity makes it invalid a choice to die. Would you judge as harshly a soldier diving in front of his comrade to take a bullet for him and die? I think you made it clear in describing your heroic fantasy that the answer would be ‘no’. And no, I will not be lured into a discussion on the difference between this soldier’s death and Juliet’s (this is only a precaution and not my assumption about what you might do). I know that the soldier saved another life and Juliet did not, and I know that the reasons for their deaths were different. But the bottom line is: they both chose to die. My point is, because life is, as you said, profound, perhaps more profound than all other human things, that does not automatically mean that choosing to die is a bad thing. My reasons: please read the first post again.


Dying for love? I do not see a connection.
You might not see it but Juliet did:

“My husband is on earth, my faith in heaven,
How shall that faith return again to earth,
Unless that husband send it me from heaven,
By leaving earth?”

This is an example of her reasoning: that of a devoted wife, who is even more devoted to her husband than she is to that definition of ‘husband’ written in her book of faith. And as much as it pains me to see where it may lead to, I cannot judge it and deem it wrong, for I am not God and I am not Juliet. The only thing I can say to your question is: read the play again with a more open mind (assuming that you have read it).


Suicide may or may not be selfish, but one thing it is not is selfless. Instead of giving her life to others, she kept it for herself to take.
Yes, I understand that you’re a straight guy with principles and noble believes. But what have you forgotten? You forget to consider that Juliet might have had noble and virtuous thoughts too, just like yours and maybe even stronger. But that her noble causes and her principles were still overcome by her love and her faith in love. Isn’t it a possibility? Were you there in the tomb next to the body of your true love? Who are you to allow yourself to judge? What do you have but your beliefs to rely on, just as Juliet did on hers?


As flattered as I imagine Romeo may be if he knew
Let me apologise in advance for my following remark. This is a pathetic analysis of Romeo’s thinking. Perhaps you don’t know Romeo as well as Shakespeare did. Or perhaps this is a tired attempt at setting yourself up for the next sentence. But I imagine Romeo would be devastated if he was to know that they cannot be together because of a misunderstanding; and even more so that his true love has ended her life because of his mistake. Or whatever his feeling might be about Juliet’s death, it cannot be summed up in half a line as you did. Please give my argument the consideration that it deserves, as I gave yours mine.

RobinHood3000
04-24-2006, 03:58 PM
Perhaps I should clarify: I think Romeo would be seriously bummed to learn of the misunderstanding (such is the tragedy of the play), but I also think that he would consider Juliet's suicide to be unparalleled proof of the genuineness of her love.

I meant what I said regarding the sentiment. Juliet's commitment to her choice, whatever it was, was indicative of a passion otherwise unheard-of throughout the play. I think that all's well that ends well (the peace between the families as a result of the children's death), but I simply wonder if it was truly necessary. Most likely it was, given the circumstances (proof of the importance of communication in relationships, I suppose :-/). In that respect, I suppose I can fairly concede the point. Thank you for the consideration--I hope I have reciprocated in a worthy manner.

Chinaski
04-24-2006, 04:11 PM
Peeeow! Peeeow! Peeeeow! Good points well made Regit - and everyone else of course. Sounds like you're as concerned with the aesthetics of death as the young Prince himself! You read Fintan O' Tooles essay Hamlet: Dying As An Art? I think you'd like it.

Regit
04-25-2006, 11:56 PM
You read Fintan O' Tooles essay "Hamlet: Dying As An Art?" I think you'd like it.
Will definitely consider it after my exams!



Sounds like you're as concerned with the aesthetics of death.
No, not so much death as with love.

Regit
04-30-2006, 09:28 AM
In that respect, I suppose I can fairly concede the point. Thank you for the consideration--I hope I have reciprocated in a worthy manner.
Ay, that you have. Thank you.

rachel
04-30-2006, 10:45 AM
I like what you said Regit and the way you said it. I don't really know why but I feel like saying thank you...

yes Reg that was beautiful. I have a friend who lives with a very abusive husband,has had for years. She had four sons -all who begged her over and over to just take them and leave the father. For some reason she found she always went back to him, she believed in covenant, so she held on until the boys were men.But their despair and rage at the father didn't go away. They kept begging their mother but she couldn't find the strength.Once she did move away and start her own business but the husband wooed her back and continued the horror.Well son number one was found hanging in the attic one day. The next year, son number two was found dead in his car, deliberate axphysiation by gas. She came to see me and I held her in her arms. She was shunned because of their suicides.Was she to blame? They found no more joy in living because their mother existed and did not live. Her mind was shattered and she did not make wise choices. their minds were shattered and they did not make wise choices. The mind is very complex and no one can judge another. As I have said before I was stolen from my Jewish mother and raised by two horrifyingly abuse people that put me in hospital more times than I like to think about.But I truly loved the man and woman just the same- a simple child's love. When she committed suicide well her son and I were alone in the house, 13 and 11-the man looked at me and said "if only you would not have been born none of this would have happened. I know that my mind stopped temporarily at those words. I went into the medicine cabinet of a lady I was sent to live with and I took all her heart medication and sleeping pills. I could not think. I just heard those words. I had no option in my mind because I loved the man and I was the cause he said of his woe. I calmly took the pills and felt my heart go slower and slower. But then it was as if two hands grabbed me and stood me up after a while and I somehow got into the woman's bedroom and coming to my senses in a strange clarity whispered"help me" I woke up weeks later and it took a year to recover. I never wanted to or tried again to do that no matter how terrible my life became. But I wasn't myself. You cannot judge a person's state of mind in those electric moments.
The woman with the two dead sons-the priests had a funeral service for both adn blessed them even though it is a sin in the Catholic church to do that. They in the end where not judged/so on this basis I cannot fault Juliet or her romeo.

rc91rl
12-20-2006, 06:01 PM
Just to let u guys know ur timelines wrong. Romeo was banished. Juliet weeped over that, her parents thought it was because of Tybalts death. Juliet went to see the Friar and said she was going to kill her self, however the Friar had a plan that she would take a potion to make her appear dead, she would be placed in her families tomb and the Friar would send a messanger to go get Romeo and bring him back to Juliet, they would then escape to Mantua together. However Romeo's servant went to tell Romeo that Juliet was dead because he had no clue about the plan. Romeo bought poison, and went to see Juliet. When Romeo got to the tomb he saw that Juliet was dead and killed himself. Seconds later the Friar went to get Juliet to take her to his cell until Romeo was notified. When he got there Juliet awoke from her 42 hr comma and saw Romeo dead. The Guards came and the Friar left and Juliet would not come with him. Juliet then took a dagger and put it through her chest.

Molly Aldam
04-11-2009, 01:13 PM
Nobody seems to have noticed that Juliet would not have had to marry Paris if she did not kill herself, because by that stage Paris was dead. Juliet could have just gone back to her life. The ultimate irony is that Juliet did not know that Romeo had killed Paris when she was making that decision - she thought dying or marrying him were her only options.