Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in Romeo and Juliet and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Romeo and Juliet at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1 : The Use of Foreshadowing in Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare uses foreshadowing in Romeo and Juliet to warn the reader that danger or a perilous situation is near. As the play opens in the city of Verona, and the audience settles down to hear the tale of the star-crossed lovers, it is evident that things are not going to turn out well for the pair. The story of Romeo and Juliet progresses and the foreshadowing becomes heavier. The witty word play that Shakespeare so often employs serves as a double entendre for the impending events, such as Mercutio’s admittance that the next day will find him a “grave man". In what scenes of the play is the foreshadowing the strongest, and what is the event being foreshadowed? What does Shakespeare hope to accomplish with the foreshadowing, and what does use does foreshadowing deliver to the audience? For this essay on Romeo and Juliet, consider the overall importance and role of foreshadowing using the questions listed here as a guide.Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Power of Destiny in Romeo and Juliet
The powerful concept of fate and destiny has intrigued many writers, including William Shakespeare. Although Romeo and Juliet scheme up many ways to be together, it is almost certain that they have no hand in their fate; they are merely being pushed along by fate. As Juliet prepares to leave everything she loves, Romeo is caught up in the cosmic warfare between his family and the Capulet’s, fighting for his life against her cousins and is eventually banished by the King. Using these examples, as well as Shakespeare’s own textual hints, describe how destiny controls the end result Romeo and Juliet’s ill-fated union. Did they ever have a chance together? Why or why not?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3 : The Role of Religion in Romeo & Juliet
The theme of religion appears quite frequently throughout the text of Romeo and Juliet. In what ways does religion in Romeo and Juliet allude to the feelings that the lovers have for each other? Romeo compares Juliet to a saint as he kisses her hand, saying that he is unworthy to do so, and at several moments, the duo declare their love as divined by God. What is the connection between their affair and the heavens, and do they perhaps overestimate God’s favor? If God really approves of their love, why is it that the one religious figure in the play causes their deaths? Also, in what way does the language used between Romeo and Juliet add to the consecration of their relationship?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 : The Depiction of Romantic Love in Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is, at its core, a story about the undeniable power of love. Before Romeo and Juliet meet, both of them are involved with another. Romeo is infatuated with Rosaline, who does not return his feelings, and Juliet is betrothed to Paris by her father, but shows no true feelings towards him. However, once Romeo meets Juliet, their prospective romances fall apart as their feelings for one another eclipse their respective feelings towards Rosaline and Paris. In what instances is their love for one another different from their feelings towards Rosaline and Paris? How do their interactions vary, and in what ways do the people around them notice these changes?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5 : Romeo & Juliet and the Role of the Feuding Families
The role of the family in Romeo & Juliet is perhaps the most important, as the feuding families end up being the ultimate downfall for Romeo and Juliet. Were it not for the battle between the Capulets and Montagues, the ending of Romeo and Juliet would have turned out far differently. The feuding causes Romeo’s banishment, the death of Tybalt, and the ultimate suicide of the lovers. In what ways are Romeo and Juliet driven to destruction by the wars of their families? Do the lovers underestimate the hatred between their fathers and overestimate the power of their love to overcome the family feud?
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This list of important quotations from Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Romeo and Juliet listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes from Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." (I.v.52-53)
“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun! Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, Who is already sick and pale with grief That thou her maid are far more fair than she." (II.2. 2-6)
“O, find him! Give this ring to my true knight And bid him come to take his last farewell." (III.ii.142-143)
“I dreamt my lady came and found me dead” (V.i.6).
“Then I defy you, stars!" (V.i.24)
“Oh! I am fortune’s fool" (III.i.131)
“God joined my heart and Romeo's, thou our hands" (IV.i.55)
“Or if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,/Which is the god of my idolatry,/ And I'll believe thee." (II.ii.113-115)
“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet." (II.i.74–78)
“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life, Whose misadventured piteous overthrows, Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife" (Prologue. 5-8)
Summary: Act 3, scene 2
In Capulet’s house, Juliet longs for night to fall so that Romeo will come to her “untalked of and unseen” (3.2.7). Suddenly the Nurse rushes in with news of the fight between Romeo and Tybalt. But the Nurse is so distraught, she stumbles over the words, making it sound as if Romeo is dead. Juliet assumes Romeo has killed himself, and she resigns to die herself. The Nurse then begins to moan about Tybalt’s death, and Juliet briefly fears that both Romeo and Tybalt are dead. When the story is at last straight and Juliet understands that Romeo has killed Tybalt and been sentenced to exile, she curses nature that it should put “the spirit of a fiend” in Romeo’s “sweet flesh” (3.2.81–82). The Nurse echoes Juliet and curses Romeo’s name, but Juliet denounces her for criticizing her husband, and adds that she regrets faulting him herself. Juliet claims that Romeo’s banishment is worse than ten thousand slain Tybalts. She laments that she will die without a wedding night, a maiden-widow. The Nurse assures her, however, that she knows where Romeo is hiding, and will see to it that Romeo comes to her for their wedding night. Juliet gives the Nurse a ring to give to Romeo as a token of her love.Read a translation of Act 3, scene 2 →
Summary: Act 3, scene 3
In Friar Lawrence’s cell, Romeo is overcome with grief, and wonders what sentence the Prince has decreed. Friar Lawrence tells him he is lucky: the Prince has only banished him. Romeo claims that banishment is a penalty far worse than death, since he will have to live, but without Juliet. The friar tries to counsel Romeo but the youth is so unhappy that he will have none of it. Romeo falls to the floor. The Nurse arrives, and Romeo desperately asks her for news of Juliet. He assumes that Juliet now thinks of him as a murderer and threatens to stab himself. Friar Lawrence stops him and scolds him for being unmanly. He explains that Romeo has much to be grateful for: he and Juliet are both alive, and after matters have calmed down, Prince Escalus might change his mind. The friar sets forth a plan: Romeo will visit Juliet that night, but make sure to leave her chamber, and Verona, before the morning. He will then reside in Mantua until news of their marriage can be spread. The Nurse hands Romeo the ring from Juliet, and this physical symbol of their love revives his spirits. The Nurse departs, and Romeo bids Friar Lawrence farewell. He must prepare to visit Juliet and then flee to Mantua.Read a translation of Act 3, scene 3 →
Summary: Act 3, scene 4
Capulet, Lady Capulet, and Paris walk together. Capulet says that because of the terrible recent events, he has had no time to ask his daughter about her feelings for Paris. Lady Capulet states that she will know her daughter’s thoughts by the morning. Paris is about to leave when Capulet calls him back and makes what he calls “a desperate tender of my child’s love” (3.4.12–13). Capulet says he thinks his daughter will listen to him, then corrects himself and states that he is sure Juliet will abide by his decision. He promises Paris that the wedding will be held on Wednesday, then stops suddenly and asks what day it is. Paris responds that it is Monday; Capulet decides that Wednesday is too soon, and that the wedding should instead be held on Thursday.Read a translation of Act 3, scene 4 →
Analysis: Act 3, scenes 2–4
The love between Romeo and Juliet, blissful in Act 2, is tested under dire circumstances as the conflict between their families takes a turn more disastrous than either could have imagined. The respective manners in which the young lovers respond to their imminent separation helps define the essential qualities of their respective characters. After hearing that he is to be exiled, Romeo acts with customary drama: he is grief-stricken and overcome by his passion. He collapses on the floor. Romeo refuses to listen to reason and threatens to kill himself. Juliet, on the other hand, displays significant progress in her development from the simple, innocent girl of the first act to the brave, mature, and loyal woman of the play’s conclusion. After criticizing Romeo for his role in Tybalt’s death, and hearing the Nurse malign Romeo’s name, Juliet regains control of herself and realizes that her loyalty must be to her husband rather than to Tybalt, her cousin.
Shakespeare creates an interesting psychological tension in Romeo and Juliet by consistently linking the intensity of young love with a suicidal impulse. Though love is generally the opposite of hatred, violence, and death, Shakespeare portrays self-annihilation as seemingly the only response to the overwhelming emotional experience that being young and in love constitutes. Romeo and Juliet seem to flirt with the idea of death throughout much of the play, and the possibility of suicide recurs often, foreshadowing the eventual deaths of the lovers in Act 5. When Juliet misunderstands the Nurse and thinks that Romeo is dead, she does not think that he was killed, but that he killed himself. And thinking that Romeo is dead, Juliet quickly decides that she too must die. Her love for Romeo will allow no other course of action.
The tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet... told in text messages
Romeo’s actual threat of suicide in Friar Lawrence’s cell, in which he desires to “sack / The hateful mansion” (3.3.106–107) that is his body so that he may eradicate his name, recalls the balcony scene, in which Romeo scorns his Montague name in front of Juliet by saying, “Had I it written, I would tear the word” (2.1.99). In the balcony scene, a name seemed to be a simple thing that he could hold up in front of him and tear. Once torn, he could easily live without it. Now, with a better understanding of how difficult it is to escape the responsibilities and claims of family loyalty, of being a Montague, Romeo modifies his metaphor. No longer does he conceive of himself as able to tear his name. Instead, now he must rip it from his body, and, in the process, die.