Intergenerational Conflict in Shakespeare

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Intergenerational conflict has been an ongoing issue in literature, and real life. We see intergenerational conflict in Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”, William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, and even in modern literature like Annemarie MacDonald’s “Fall on Your Knees”. More specifically, in Shakespeare’s plays we are introduced to many different forms of conflict. One of the most prominent is intergenerational conflict, especially in “Romeo & Juliet”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and “I Henry IV”. Examples of intergenerational conflict in these plays include Romeo’s defiance of his parents, Juliet’s conflict with her father, Hermia’s paternal conflicts, and King Henry’s disappointment with his son, Hal. Firstly, Romeo’s defiance and…show more content…
Egeus request to put his daughter to death if she does not obey his wishes, which exercises a higher form of control than Capulet’s threat of disownment. His wish is shown when he asks Theseus “I beg the ancient privilege of Anthens:/ As she is mine, I may dispose of her, Which shall be either to this gentleman/ Or to her death, according to our law” (I.i.41-4). However, unlike the ending in “Romeo and Juliet”, Hermia’s disobedience of her father’s wishes ends in happiness instead of the death of both lovers. Lastly, the tense relationship between Hal and his father, King Henry IV is also a Shakespearean example of intergenerational conflict. Hal’s upbringing shows similarities with the tale of the prodigal son, which was popular in the medieval time period. Hal is a disappointment to his father, which we learn when King Henry tells Westmorland that he envies the Percy family for having such a noble and honorable son: Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him, See riot and dishonor stain the brow Of my young Harry. O, that it could be proved That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged In cradle-clothes our children where they lay, And called mine “Percy,” his “Plantagenet”! (I.i.83-8). Though Hal freely associates with robbers, prostitutes, and highwaymen, he has plans to transform himself into a noble prince, which would consequently win back the praise and acceptance of his father. We see his plans to change when Hal states the following: “So when this

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