by Stephenie Meyer
The Parallel with Romeo and Juliet
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
We’ve already discussed Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as it relates to the epigraph, a passage from the Shakespeare play. If you have already, check out "What's Up with the Epigraph?"
The epigraph is just the beginning. The story of Romeo and Juliet runs throughout New Moon as a parallel, or working template, to help Bella understand her own tragic love story and decide what to do next.
At first glance, the two stories have much in common. They both deal with losing your one true love. Bella and Edward's love is also forbidden, and though they are not from warring families, as the Montagues and the Capulets were, in the end their relationship renews a feud between two families – the werewolves and the vampires.
Both Romeo and Edward leave their lovers, forced by circumstances, which subjects them to terrible love pains. When Juliet and Bella appear to commit suicide, a series of misunderstandings leads Romeo and Edward to believe their loves have truly died, at which point they decide to commit suicide as well.
In the end, though, Bella saves Edward while Juliet is too late for Romeo and kills herself because of it. So instead of a tragedy, we get a happy reunion.
Now let's consider the werewolf, or should we say, the Paris/Jacob complication. In Shakespeare’s play, it’s pretty clear that Juliet is not interested in her suitor Paris. But in New Moon, especially in Chapter 16, Bella struggles with her feelings toward Jacob. Sure, "Juliet gets dumped and ends up with Paris" (16.75) would have been a lame story, but Bella finds herself wondering if to give "Juliet and Paris" a chance.
When Edward returns however, and the hostility between him and Jacob becomes tangible, Bella fears that their love triangle might have a Shakespearean ending: "They fight. Paris falls" (Epilogue.28).