The themes love, obedience and duty do not only run strongly throughout Romeo and Juliet, they are the main themes of the play and are essential motives for the many of the events that occur in the course of this play. These themes are of highly significant importance to the events that unfold in the play, the development of characters and the general ideas and values Shakespeare presents to the audience.
The theme love is undoubtedly one of the most important, possibly most, themes in the play. It is because Romeo and Juliet fall in love with each other that most of the subsequent events occur. In Act II Scene II, the balcony scene, the two lovers express their romantic feelings for each other leading to their engagement (Lines 143-148: "If that thy bent of love be honourable...And follow thee my lord throughout the world"). Through this love the audience is able to see the hardships of love that the two unexperienced lovers go through, separation and ultimately death.
The two characters are infatuated with each other and this drives them to become hasty with decisions.
The development of both Romeo and Juliet's characters links to the romantic love that they share. Romeo, at the beginning of the play feels he will never love again as Rosalind does not return his love (Act I Scene I Lines 221-222: "She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow Do I live dead that live to tell it now") although this changes when he see Juliet. Juliet appears to be obedient and loyal to her family, promising to give Paris a chance (Act I Scene III Lines 97-99: "I'll look to like...Than your consent gives strength to make it fly."), until her love of Romeo tears her loyalties apart.
It is not only this type of love (romantic) that this play explores. Loves such as dutiful love is displayed through Paris, who loves Juliet dutifully while Juliet is expected to do so to Paris (Paris shows this in Act V Scene III, bringing flowers to Juliet's grave). Conditional love is shows through Juliet's parents, who arrange her marriage, seemingly unjust, but arguably with her best interests at heart (Act III Scene IV Lines 12-17: "Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender Of my child's love...on Wednesday next"). The friendship between Mercutio, Benvolio and Romeo is another example of love that leads to events in the play. For instance, the death of Mercutio leads Romeo to seek revenge for his death (Act III Scene I Lines 122-129: "Alive in triumph, and Mercutio slain...Either thou, or I, or both, must go with him."). The fatherly relationship Friar Laurence and Romeo share can be a reason for the friar's involvement in the play. Love connects the characters of the play to one another as they share some form of love in some way for another person. Love thus plays a significant role in the play.
Obedience is a key theme in the play although it is less wide spread across characters. This theme is mostly relevant towards Juliet but it can be applied to Romeo as well. The issue of family honour versus personal gain is brought up by the way Juliet is required to listen to her father and marry Paris although she is in love with Romeo (Act III Scene V Lines 120-123: "I pray you, tell my lord and father...These are news indeed!"). The same can be applied to Romeo and his father. The two lovers are compelled to take their families side in this "civil brawl" and cannot be together. Thus, this theme provides the play with the complication and can therefore be said to be important.
The theme of duty is one of great significance. Most characters belong to either the Montague or Capulet household so the theme is tied in. The idea presented is that one has a duty to follow the beliefs and values of your family even though you do not believe in them. Romeo is one such case. This is an important issue addressed, as Shakespeare could be satirical of society in this manner. Romeo and Juliet are able to break away from this and love one another even though they know it would not be approved of. This is a vital point in the play (Act II Scene II).
Another form of duty is similar to obedience. It is the duty of having to obey, for instance Juliet is torn because she has a duty to obey her father and family values but she also has a duty to be loyal to her husband, Romeo (Act III Scene II Lines 73-85: "O serpent heart...In such a gorgeous palace.").
Duty, like the other two themes play just as important a role in the play.
The three themes, love, obedience and duty, are obviously linked to one another. Obedience and duty are very much similar. Obedience and duty are connected to love because they prohibit and constrict it in many ways. Romeo and Juliet's obedience and duty for their family made a barrier for their love. The play is simply about that. Thus, the importance and significance of all three themes together is apparent.
Love, obedience and duty are the fundamental themes of the play Romeo and Juliet. The plot and story is based around these three themes and without them there would be no story. These three are also crucial in shaping the characters personalities as their feelings towards these three issues show the audience what they're like. Love, obedience and duty are also important in the overall meaning of the play, addressing the problems and giving a coda or message. The above stated points draw a conclusion that the themes love, obedience and duty play significantly important roles in the play Romeo and Juliet.