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Ancestral Redemption in Literature

            "When parents eat unripe grapes, the children's teeth suffer"(Ezek. In Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Tale of Two Cities, a recurring theme is how children act as "agents of redemption" for their parents. These books not only explore the theme of "Sins of the Father," how the younger generation "has to pay" for the actions of the older generation, but they also look at how the younger generation can act as a means of salvation for their parents.
             In William Shakespeare's brilliant tragedy Romeo and Juliet, the title characters Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet redeem the mistakes of their families and end a centuries-old feud between their families. The play begins with the Chorus saying, "Two households, both alike in dignityFrom ancient grudge break to new mutinyWhich, but their children's end, naught could remove"(Pro.1-112). Shakespeare deliberately does not begin the play by talking about Romeo and Juliet. He instead gives a bit of background, and a bit of foreshadowing. The Chorus says that so great is the feud between the Montague and Capulet families that only the death of their children could bring them together. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony here, because the audience is aware that Romeo and Juliet will end up dying at the end of the play, thus ending the feud. The audience is, of course, meant to wonder how excessive of a feud there really is between the two families. The Chorus tells the audience that the love between Romeo and Juliet has the potential to bring the Capulets and Montagues together. Essentially, Romeo and Juliet's love for one another could have bridged the feelings of hatred between the two families and settled their differences. Friar Lawrence agrees to marry Juliet and Romeo because he sees the potential of their love. Friar Lawrence not only believes that it is unfair for the two to be separated by their quarrelling families, but he also believes that marriage between the two families could possibly end the pointless bickering that infested the streets of Verona.

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