I have always had a curiosity about Romeo and Juliet, as I was never able to fully understand how so many things could go wrong at once. When I went to the opera of the play, I had decided to go with an open mind to see if I would be able to finally catch a missing piece of the story.
The opera was part of the Metropolitan Opera 2016/17 season in the Cineworld cinema in Cheltenham. I was fascinated by how passionate the couple, Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo, chosen to play the protagonists seem to be. In the middle of that tragic story, I started to question myself that same frustrated question about how that all happened.
I then realised that maybe the question is so simple that not everyone thought of asking it. What if Shakespeare intended, not only to demonstrate how love can burn our souls but, to criticise the power of the church? With that said, allow me to create a theory:
Romeo and Juliet was written in the year of 1595-6 in Verona, Italy. At the time, the church was the most powerful institution, although the families Montague and Capulet are shown to be more influential.
As a Friar, it does not seem right to lie to the families to help a juvenile love, especially when Juliet is promised to marry another. It could easily start a war between the two families, or create a distress between the Capulets and the church.
However, he does that anyways. He tells Juliet that he and Romeo will be waiting for her to wake up so they can be together. He never did, although he could have told Romeo easily.
Romeo and Juliet were the only main heirs of the two richest families, and after Juliet’s cousin death, there was no other person to have access to the popular surname or their inheritance. As a matter of fact, the church could take the families’ possessions when they pass away.
If Romeo and Juliet had achieved permission to love each other, their son would become a powerful man, and eventually a possible threat to the religious institution.
At first, when I came with this theory, I did not want to believe it was a possibility as It is difficult to find a villain when all characters’ intentions seem so clear, and the only question is why life is unfair. However, Shakespeare has a subtle way to create questions and give us the illusion of understanding his stories. It may be one of the reasons why his writings are still fascinating.