Bloody Fray and Juliet's Bleeding Body in Romeo and Juliet

Lauren Weindling


This article maintains that Romeo and Juliet critiques the ideology of blood beneath the blood feud — a naturalized model for dictating affinity and enmity between persons thereby encouraging endogamy — by staging the bloody result of honoring consanguinity in material terms. Although Juliet proffers an iconoclastic alternative to this framework by suggesting that names, not blood, might account for identity, this alternative is lost to the existing ideological structure. Romeo and Juliet hope to establish relations of affinity between the warring families by forging new consanguineous ties via the blood-mixing upon their marriage. Yet Shakespeare’s play alludes to the dramatic tradition of tragic sacrifice as catharsis — here presented as a barbaric bloodletting of an innocent young girl — to exhibit that the persistence of blood’s ideology requires violence and, in this case, blood sacrifice. Assuming this ideology means assuming its violent consequences: a Galenic purge of the families’ enmity from their bloodlines by spilling Juliet’s blood.


Shakespeare; Galen; blood; kinship

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