Prince Escalus: External Conflict
People should pay attention to those elected to protect them
Act I, Scene I
For some time, Prince Escalus has had to deal with the disturbance of the Montague and Capulet feud. The lives of the people in his city are in danger from the, "Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word by thee, old Capulet, and Montague...," and he is ready to take back control of his city (996). Because of their fighting, he must address the two houses and lay out the consequences for this deadly conflict that continuously infects his streets.
Act III, Scene I
Even though Prince Escalus warned that the next of the families to enter into a public quarrel would pay for the disruption of peace with his life, the Montagues and Capulets can't seem to get along. Tybalt, who is a hot head, caused the death of Mercutio, a relative to the Prince and best friend of Romeo. Romeo, in vengeance, killed Tybalt, to which the prince responds, "And for that offense immediately we do exile him hence" (1051). Because Romeo was defending Mercutio's honor with the death of Tybalt, the prince decided to exile him instead of sentencing him to death himself.
Act V, Scene III
Because the power of the feud was stronger than the words of their leader, Prince Escalus, the Montagues and Capulets ended the story in a tragedy that could have been prevented. Upon hearing the story of how the two innocent teenagers came to their death beds, Prince Escalus addresses Lord Capulet and Lord Montague saying, "See what a scourge is laid upon your hate, that heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!" (1101). The precious element of each of their houses is now gone because of their hate and unwillingness to end the feud.
Theme: People should pay attention to those elected to protect them
Throughout the entire play, Prince Escalus is trying to keep the peace in the city of Verona, specifically in regards to the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. He tries to let them handle it on their own, but when he steps in, he's speaking for the safety of his citizens, including the members of both houses. Because his words are ignored, many people lose their lives, including Romeo and Juliet, the star-crossed lovers from the feuding families. It's not in Shakespeare's language or the Prince's status to say, "I told you so," but he does say, "For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo" (1102). He was to lead and protect the people of his community, but because he was ignored, tragedy, not happiness, made this story an ever after.