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Discuss the ideas developed by the playwright, William Shakespeare, in the play, Romeo and Juliet about the significance of truth in an individual’s life?


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Full confession.  We find Romeo and Juliet to be one of Shakespeare’s least appealing plays, and one of the reasons is because, while the theme of truth (and the related theme of lies) plays a significant role in the play, there is also the questions of whether the characters are even old enough to possess the self-awareness that is required for lying about feelings. 

When Romeo professes his love for Juliet, she wonders if his words are true.  Her worries are based in the fact that, even at her young age, Juliet seems to know that sometimes boys lie to get what they want from a girl.  However, the audience has even more reason to question Romeo’s words.  When the play begins, Romeo is spouting flowery words about the one he adores, except that Rosalind, not Juliet, is the object of his affection at the beginning of the play.  The audience, who has seen Romeo switch his affections to Juliet, may not necessarily doubt that Romeo thinks he means what he says to Juliet, just about his own ability to assess his sincerity.

Of course, many people focus on fate in Romeo and Juliet, as if the death of the two lovers is simply a cruel twist of fate.  It is not.  Juliet decides to involve herself in a duplicitous scheme that would break her parents’ hearts; faking her own death.  That the revelation of her plan is so quickly followed by the deaths of both young lovers often takes the focus off of what she intended to do, but her actions are worth noting.  She not only intends to lie to her parents, and to almost everyone else she knows, but she plans to lie to them about the worst thing possible- the death of their child.  Though she was concerned about whether Romeo was being truthful at the start of the play, it is ultimately Juliet’s lies that bring about the tragic ending of the play

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