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Shakespeare’s Life and Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare was not a courageous man, and subject to human frailty. When he married Anne Hathaway, she was already pregnant. She was eight years his senior, and stayed behind in Stratford with the children while he lived and worked in London, suggesting a strained marriage. He learned of different types of love, and was inspired to write beautiful sonnets. He also had an adulterous affair, which tore him apart emotionally and spiritually, and wrote of this too. This understanding of love helped in writing Romeo and Juliet. The play is about authority not exercising its proper role. There is fighting in Verona between the prominent Capulet and Montague families because the Prince is weak. The parents are weak. The young adults have the leisure of wealth, and thus fall in and out of love on a whim. The Friar, while a good and holy man, is also weak and makes poor decisions. The result: Romeo and Juliet do fall in chaste love, marry in secret, and commit suicide. The horror of their self-inflicted murders shocked Elizabethan Catholics who understood this not as a sentimental act, but sin. Order is restored at the end of the play after these unnecessary deaths.

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