Do you think acting honourably the same as doing the right thing? Do you think Shakespeare thinks so?
In my opinion, acting honourably isn't the same as doing the right thing. Honour is important, but honour isn’t everything. If a person lives for honour, it means that he or she has a high self esteem and would not allow anyone to be disrespectful to him or her. However, whether others are treating a person respectfully or disrespectfully is completely depending on the person. In other words, honour is a subjective thing. It might lead to the person making impulsive, inaccurate or perhaps completely wrong judgements. This is probably not the right thing, since this could cause a person to do unethical acts or unnecessary injuries.
I think Shakespeare also thinks that acting honourably isn’t the same as doing the right thing. At the start of Act 2, Scene 1, Tybalt started fighting with Mercutio because of the honour of the Capulet house. The result of the fight of honour is that Mercutio is killed. Not long after that, Romeo fought with Tybalt for Mercutio’s honour, and this resulted in Tybalt’s death and Romeo’s exile. From the plot in Romeo and Juliet, we can see that honour is an important idea to all the characters, but every time honour causes conflicts, fights and deaths. It is possible that Shakespeare is conveying the idea that acting honourably brings hatred and tragedies, and is not helpful for reconciliation to happen.
Do the men and women in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ have the same ideas about honour? What’s similar? What’s different?
Honour to men and women in Romeo and Juliet are similar, but are also different to some extent. No matter if it is to men or women, their definition of honour, in Romeo and Juliet, is the respect a person or a house deserves. When Mercutio said: "O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!”, he meant that the submission of Romeo to Tybalt did not earn Romeo or the Montague house the respect he or they deserved. When Juliet was convincing herself that Romeo is honourable, after hearing the news that Romeo killed Tybalt, she meant that Romeo was a respectable person thus should be forgiven.
On the other hand, the different ideas men and women have about honour, is the way to cope with it when being dishonoured. To men from the houses of Montague and Capulet, when their houses or they themselves are dishonoured, what they tend to do is always to start a fight (Benvolio was an exception). At the beginning of Act 1 Scene 1, a servant of the house of Capulet, Sampson, bit his thumb at the Montagues, the servants of the house of Montague immediately fought back. And as mentioned before, almost all men in “Romeo and Juliet", when dishonoured, fought back. Women, on the other hand, act quite differently when they themselves, their houses or their husbands were being dishonoured. I am not quite sure, but well this part is also mentioned before, when the nurse, finding out that Romeo had killed Tybalt, she said that: "No faith, no honesty in men. All perjured, All forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers.”, which is basically means all men lies. This is no doubt very dishonourable to Romeo. When Juliet heard this, she didn’t fought with the nurse or get angry. Instead, she tried to stop being angry with him — since he is her husband and it would be dishonourable to him if his own wife didn’t like him. At the same time, she tried to convince the nurse to say dishonourable things to her husband. To some extent, we can see here that women tend to say their ideas out in order to convince others when others are saying dishonourable things.
Do you think your idea of honour is the same as Mercutio’s or Tybalt’s? What’s similar? What’s different?
I am not sure what Mercutio or Tybalt’s idea of honour is exactly. To Mercutio, he doesn’t prefer any of the houses since he said “a plague on both your houses!” When he died, I think what his idea of honour is to never submit or surrender. Seeing Romeo submitting to Tybalt easily in order to keep the peace was what caused him to start fighting with Tybalt. For Tybalt, hmm, I think in Tybalt’s opinion, to constantly disturb or fight the enemies of his family would be an honourable act, perhaps because it is a way to show that the Capulets are always better than the Montagues.
My understanding of the word “honour” is to be respected by other people. By definition, this is perhaps similar to Mercutio’s and Tybalt’s idea of honour, but my understanding of “honourable acts” are probably different from theirs. When they are dishonoured, what they usually do is to fight in order to show their strength since in their opinion, in this way they would be respected. My understanding of “honourable acts” that people respect are those that are ethical, kind and helpful to others. What’s more, if I want others to respect me, I would try to improve myself, perhaps to get better at academics, instead of using my fists. So I think what to do in order to be honourable is the thing me and the two characters in Romeo and Juliet have different ideas of.
Would their society view Romeo and Juliet's love as 'honourable'? Explain!
I don’t think the society at the time of the story would view Romeo and Juliet’s love as honourable. So first, Romeo and Juliet’s relationship was completely based on love. It has nothing to do with their fame or fortune, if they can benefit from each other or if this is an honourable thing to their families. Choosing each other was their own preference. However, at 14th century Verona, people put their houses’ honour, their family’s honour and their own honour over love. To them, honour means if they are enemies to you, you fight them, it means an eye for an eye. And you should not like your enemy, especially an enemy whose family had killed your family member or your best friend — not revenging on his or her family was already kind of dishonourable, marry him or her would be a shame and would definitely not be honourable.