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Romeo and Juliet vs. Antigone: Compare & Contrast

Romeo and Juliet is perhaps one of Shakespeare’s most well known and renowned of plays. It is story of love’s attempts to unite and bring together two lovers who can fathom nothing else but their love (Shakespeare). In Romeo and Juliet, we see two lovers bent on becoming one and spending the rest of their lives together. We can see lovers wanting nothing more from the world other than each other close by and wanting to have no part of the world.

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We see tradition clash with love and we see love struggle to survive as it is faced continuously with the boundaries of tradition and the boundaries of social customs. In Romeo and Juliet, the audience sees a world that is directed heavily by customs and traditions and the role the wonders that the seed of love can give birth to in the most confined and constricted of societies. Romeo and Juliet shows two opposing families come face to face as the seed of love takes root in the most unlikely of circumstances and the inevitability of the growth of love stares them in the face (Cahn). In Romeo & Juliet, one can see how love manages to sustain itself even if it is alone in its desire to live in peace and harmony so that it can celebrate its existence without bringing harm to any external elements of society. One can see that even though love’s desires may be innocent, they are still strong in their foundation and will not choose to stop under any condition. Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet shows how love chooses to stay alive even if it appears to have perished in the eyes of the world. To be together in death is a decision that Romeo and Juliet both take individually and we can see the extent of faith that love instills in the hearts that choose to live by the depths of commitment and dedication that it has to offer.

In Antigone, written by Sophocles, we see a sister’s love for her brother in its most unconditional of forms as Antigone chooses to go against Creon’s royal decree and bury her brother respectfully after the battle between her two brothers. In Antigone, the audience can see the degree of bravery that true and pure love can give birth to when it is faced with the most challenging of circumstances.

Furthermore in Antigone, we see quite a different story. Antigone is heavy with the element of eventuality and shows how one chooses to make their own way in life and how one contributes to the creation of one’s own fate by doing so (Sophocles). Unlike the scenario present in Romeo and Juliet, Antigone is quite different in the fact that the main plot of Antigone shows a high degree of the lead character’s reliance upon the surrounding environment whereas the characters in Romeo and Juliet are completely motivated by their own desires and aspirates.

However, there is one element that both Antigone and Romeo and Juliet appear to have in common. This similarity lies in the fact that in both plays, there is a considerable appearance of rebellion in the lead characters. One cannot deny the fact that the act of rebellion performed by Antigone in the play Antigone as well as the act of rebellion performed by the two lovers in Romeo & Juliet is perhaps the underlying root of the plot. Was it not for Antigone’s decision to go against Creon and attempt to bury her brother’s body, Creon’s decisions to follow may have been completely different from those that occurred. A majority of Creon’s actions in Antigone were motivated by emotion and frustration through the course of the play. This element is apparent in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet as well where the very foundation of the twist in the play can be found in Romeo’s desire to go to a ball to which he is otherwise not allowed to attend on grounds of the enmity between the Montague’s and the Capulet’s.

From the discussion presented above, we can surmise that while Antigone is a play in which the characters are focused on the attainment of the justice that should prevail between right and wrong (Kaufmann), Romeo and Juliet is a play that gives little regard to the definitions of right and wrong and the characters choose to focus only on what they believe is right. While Romeo and Juliet was a story of love and chose to focus on the strength that love could bestow in the hearts that chose to accept it as a way of life, Antigone is a play where the characters are concerned more for their perceptions of the right and wrong that should prevail in the world around them.

Works Cited

Cahn, Victor L. The plays of Shakespeare: a thematic guide. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.

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Kaufmann, Walter. Tragedy and philosophy. Princeton University Press, 1992.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, 1964.

Sophocles. Antigone. Tandem Library, 1990.

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