How Does Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Link to Different Poems?

In all the different texts that were studied, the themes of ‘Love & conflict’ are apparent. In Shakespeare’s Play ‘Romeo and Juliet’, we get the impression that perhaps the nurse has more affection for Juliet compared to her actual parents. It was the nurse that raised and breastfed her. Her parents seem to be quite remote and distanced and are more interested in controlling her. However, we see their genuine affection for her when they are grief-stricken after they discover Juliet’s death. In Catrin, like the Capulet’s, we can see the mother, Gillian Clarke attempting to control her daughter.
But this is not a significant confrontation just a petty dispute in which the mother recognises that conflict will always be a part of mother/daughter relationships. This can be seen in What has Happened to Lulu, where the confrontation between mother and daughter has escalated to the point where the daughter felt she must leave. Similarly, in the poem, A frosty Night, Alice is angry as her mother’s love is controlling and smothering. The texts suggest that relationships are not always healthy between parents and daughters.
The structure of Romeo and Juliet takes the form of a traditional narrative with the developing problem of Juliet’s arranged marriage reaching a climax with her death then a resolution of the feuding families reconciling. In Catrin, the classical structure is abandoned: and replaced with a more complex narrative beginning with a flashback. It is the only at the end where we understand their conflict. In ‘A Frosty Night’ and ‘What has happened to Lulu? We see a more traditional structure with the story unfolding in a chronological way.

However, what is interesting about the twentieth century texts is that none of them are resolved at the end unlike Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare’s play is quite alike ‘A Frosty Night’ as the conflict is revealed through dialogue while in ‘Catrin’ and ‘What Has Happened to Lulu’ the narrative is conveyed through the first person. The social and historical contexts of the texts are marked differently. Romeo and Juliet was written in the late 16th century while the other poems were written in the modern day and, therefore, reflects the attitudes and values of their times.
In Romeo and Juliet, unlike today, children weren’t expected to question the authority of their parents. Moreover, it was the tradition for parents to arrange their children’s marriage and sometimes leads to serious conflict. This is evident in Shakespeare’s play and ultimately leads to the death of both children. In all the poems, the conflict in a parent-child relationship isn’t as serious as in Romeo and Juliet. While Alice and Lulu felt restricted and constrained by their mothers they could at least have acted more assertive with their parents and even leave home as Lulu’s disappearance was.
In Catrin, the conflict is of a trivial nature which would make occurrence in most families. Despite their apparent differences, what is remarkable is that parent/child conflict has persisted through time and therefore it is possible to understand the confrontation between Juliet and her parent’s even though it was written over four hundred years ago. In all the texts, powerful emotive language is illustrated. In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, we see Old Capulet verbally attacks Juliet in an aggressive and threatening manner, “Hang thee, Young Baggage!
Disobedient Wretch! ” he screams. While in ‘Catrin’, Clarke uses the powerful metaphor “tight red rope of love which we both fought over”. In ‘A Frosty Night’, Robert Graves ends the poem and the mother/daughter conversation with Alice shouting, “Mother let me go”. Also, in ‘What Has Happened to Lulu” the younger sibling reveals “I heard someone cry, in anger or in pain”. Perhaps it is not surprising that emotive language is employed after all the poems are borne out of love.

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New York University
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