The Consequences of Pride in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

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What is the effect of having too much pride? Can different forms of pride such as familial and social have different consequences? Pride is usually considered to be a positive aspect in one’s life, but too much of it can have adverse results. By observing today’s society, as well as Shakespearean society, it is clear that too much pride in any form can inhibit the ability to accept differences in people and oneself.
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the audience witnesses a great amount of familial pride when Tybalt shouts to an opposing family member, “What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward,” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 1.1 pg 12). In the play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare depicts two feuding families who once had a legitimate reason to be mad at one another, but now continuously fight each other fueled purely by family pride. This everlasting conflict between the Montagues and the Capulets illustrate to the audience how having too much family pride places a restriction on familial unity.
While having too much family pride can be harmful, having too much social pride can result in a lack of conversing between different groups of people. When looking at statistics, one can see that residents in the extremely diverse city of Los Angeles have managed to segregate themselves from others of different wealth and race. This type of segregation in which people prefer to live among others who are similar confirms that humanity has too much pride to place themselves with others who are different. Similar to this, in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Lord Capulet shouts to his daughter, “Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch! I tell thee what: get thee to church o' Thursday, Or never after look me in the face,” (Act 3.5 pg 200) clearly portraying to the audience that his social pride is too great for he would rather rid himself of his own daughter than to have a daughter who refuses to marry.
Since my first report card, I have always taken pride in having high grades. It was not until freshman year in high school that I started to receive undesirable grades by my standards. While most students would not mind having my report card, those few letters had deteriorated my emotional state because I felt as if I was no longer part of the intellectuals.

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Pride is the reason why I became so frustrated with myself for surely I would be more welcoming to these fairly decent grades had I not set the bar so high. Similarly, in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Benedict prides himself on the idea that no woman will ever be good enough for him when he declares, “Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none. And the fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor,” (Act 1.1 pg 20). Although Benedict enjoys the love of a woman in the end of the play, the audience sees that Benedict went through an awkward state of self reevaluation after realizing what he took pride in the most might have been wrong.
Having too much pride is never beneficial to oneself. As observed in Shakespeare’s plays, the great amount of pride within Tybalt, Lord Capulet, and Benedict prevented themselves from realizing their own ignorance. Hundreds of years later, whether a school boy is trying to receive better grades than his peers or whether a wealthy banker decides to live only among the rich, one can see that society has not changed for people today still posses too much pride. Perhaps people will continue to escape reality by priding themselves heavily on values unessential to life. In the end, priding oneself too greatly prevents one from truly experiencing a meaningful life.


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