Romeo and Juliet in Comparison to Japan and America

983 words | 4 page(s)

Romeo and Juliet were involved in one of the most memorable relationships in all of literature. In the same way, Japan and the United States engaged in one of the most important conflicts in World War II. While most people remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, just as they remember the dual suicide of Romeo and Juliet, there was much more to both stories. After the United States put restrictions on the oil they would send to Japan, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor (Goldstein & Maurer). This set off a three-year period of struggle, ending when America dropped two atom bombs on Japan. In “Romeo and Juliet,” the two sides were sworn enemies who engaged in a dramatic family war until the death of their children brought about a truce. These stories and conflicts have many similarities and some differences which will be explored in this paper.

One of the primary differences between the Japanese/American conflict and the conflict in “Romeo and Juliet” is the way that the conflict came about. Japan and the United States were not sworn enemies before Pearl Harbor. In fact, they fought together in World War I, and Japan depended on the United States for much of its oil (Gordon). When Japan chose to occupy Vietnam, though, the United States became worried and cut off Japan’s oil supply. This forced Japan to make a choice between leaving Vietnam or going to war with the United States. Even though the two countries fought during World War II, they quickly became allies again. In “Romeo and Juliet,” the Capulet and Montague families were sworn enemies from the start. They went through a tremendously long period of fighting that pre-dated the birth of Romeo or Juliet. This was not a situation where conflict arose quickly because of one circumstance. Instead, there was a deep-seeded distrust between the two sides.

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One of the primary similarities between the two conflicts is that it took something catastrophic to bring about the end of the fighting. Japan and the United States engaged in three long years of war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. American military forces conducted air, land, and sea missions against Japan during that time. Likewise, America fought the war on the European front, meaning that it had to win the war in two places. Over time, it became clear that the United States would be victorious in the war. America had strong allies and had attained a strong position both in Europe and in Asia. With this in mind, the Japanese had the option of surrendering, effectively ending the war before any more blood could be shed. In the same way, the Capulets and Montagues had an opportunity to end their feud without any more bloodshed.

When Juliet proclaimed her love for Romeo, they could have allowed the marriage rather than doing everything in their power to stop the couple. In World War II, America gave Japan plenty of opportunities to surrender, but Japan made it clear that they would continue to fight. This is what caused the United States to finally decide that it had to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. When it did this – killing tens of thousands of people – the fighting finally stopped. In “Romeo and Juliet,” it took the couple both dying, along with Paris, for the sides to finally see that the fighting was no good. A catastrophic event had to take place in order for there to be a truce, and that makes it very similar to the conflict between Japan and the United States.

Another way that the conflict was similar came in the way that the two sides treated one another. While in conflict, both sides began to de-value the humanity of the other side. In “Romeo and Juliet,” Tybalt wanted to kill Romeo for the simply crime of sneaking into a party. Romeo was reduced, in that moment, to something less than human. He was an expendable life. In the conflict between Japan and the United States, many different things too place that show that both sides de-valued the humanity of the other side. In the US, Japanese-Americans were put into internment camps because the American government thought that these Japanese citizens might be dangerous (Stanley). There was a lot of hate to go around in these camps, and Japanese-Americans were made to feel very scared (Harvey, p.29). In addition, Japanese pilots initiated a sneak attack on America, killing thousands of people, including civilians, at Pearl Harbor (Prange). This showed a lack of respect for the humanity of the Americans, and that continued on both sides as the conflict dragged on. Just as the Capulets and Montagues began to see each other as nothing more than enemies, the Japanese and Americans did the same thing.

Romeo and Juliet engaged in a memorable love affair that finally ended in tragedy. The two families could not come together on their differences, and as a result, both lost something precious. The same could be said for Japan and the United States. Though they were not sworn enemies like Montagues and Capulets were, these two sides came to dislike each other very much. The two stories are similar in some ways and different in many others. In both cases, though, it took something extraordinary for the two sides to finally stop their continued fighting.

  • Harvey, Robert. Amache: The Story of Japanese Internment in Colorado during World War II. Taylor Pub, 2004.
  • Goldstein, Erik, and John H. Maurer, eds. The Washington Conference, 1921-22: naval rivalry, East Asian stability and the road to Pearl Harbor. Taylor & Francis, 1994.
  • Gordon, Andrew. A modern history of Japan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Prange, Gordon William, Donald M. Goldstein, and Katherine V. Dillon. At dawn we slept: The untold story of Pearl Harbor. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981.
  • Stanley, Jerry. I am an American: A true story of Japanese internment. Crown Publishers, 1994.

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