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Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

Exile Theme

In Romeo and Juliet, exile is a personal matter that becomes political: Romeo is banished for a private affair (revenge-killing Tybalt), in order to keep a public peace. And then that banishments ends up having private and public consequences: the deaths of two kids, and then a final, public truce between the Capulets and Montagues. So does the exile—which is supposed to be better than death—fail? Or does it ultimately succeed, by bringing peace back to Verona?

Questions About Exile

  1. Why is Romeo banished from Verona, exactly? Is it his fault?
  2. Lord Capulet threatens to disown Juliet and throw her out on the street. Why does he do this?
  3. Does Romeo's exile have a symbolic function in Romeo and Juliet?
  4. In what way is Juliet herself metaphorically exiled while Romeo is literally exiled?
  5. For Romeo, is exile indeed worse than death?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Death and exile are synonymous for Romeo and Juliet because they cannot bear to live apart. In itself, this identification suggests that their love wouldn't have lasted.

Juliet's threatened exile from her family is more dangerous than Romeo's exile, because she's a woman.

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