Romeo And Juliet: Chance Or Circumstance?

May 19, 2022 by Essay Writer

Many people in the world are forced into unpleasant situations due to circumstances outside of their control. As Halsey said: “There are great… challenges that ordinary people are forced by circumstance to meet”. Circumstance is where factors out of one’s control affect the way someone’s life begins to shape. Both chance and circumstance are uncontrollable factors. However, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a story of circumstance rather than chance, because although chance is the wrecker of even the best laid plans, these plans would not have been necessary if it weren’t for the circumstances Romeo and Juliet were in. The actions of Montague and Capulet, Friar Lawrence, the demands of the society, and fate create circumstances which Romeo and Juliet could hardly handle, and they meet their tragic ends.

Firstly, Romeo and Juliet are the victims of circumstances created by the members of the houses of Capulet and Montague, as well as Friar Lawrence. For example, Romeo is rejected by Rosaline and is extremely disheartened, because he is “Out of her favour, where I am in love” (I, 1, 162). This causes Mercutio and Benvolio to force him to come to Capulet’s feast, where Benvolio says the he can “Compare her face with some that I shall show, and I will make thee think thy swan a crow” (I, 2, 88-89), meaning that he will show Romeo some other girls, which will make Rosaline look like a crow. At the feast, Romeo and Juliet meet, fall in love, and agree to marry each other the following day. The whole reason that Romeo and Juliet meet is because of Rosaline’s rejection towards Romeo. If Rosaline had decided to give Romeo a chance, or even talked to him, Romeo would not have gone to the party, and would not have met Juliet. His circumstances during that time, Rosaline’s rejection, caused him to go the party and meet Juliet.

Benvolio and Mercutio’s persistence in taking Romeo to Capulet’s masquerade ball would have much higher consequences, although they did not know it. At Capulet’s party, Tybalt recognizes Romeo, and even after reprimands from Lord Capulet, vows to get revenge on Romeo for crashing the party. Tybalt says that “Patience perforce with wilful choler meeting makes my flesh tremble in their different greeting: I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall/ now seeming sweet/ convert to bitt’rest gall.” (I, 5, 88-91). From line 90-91, Tybalt is foreshadowing what is to happen in Act III. In Act III, Tybalt goes looking for Romeo, to get revenge for Romeo’s unwanted arrival at the Capulet masquerade ball. Romeo’s presence at the ball causes the death of Tybalt, Mercutio, and Romeo’s exile from Verona. Romeo’s exile is the stem of Friar Lawrence’s precarious plan to unite Romeo and Juliet, a plan in which so many things could go wrong, and they did.

Friar Lawrence also played a paramount role in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Friar Lawrence could very well have declined to marry Romeo and Juliet. However, he says that “In one respect I’ll thy assistant be/ for this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households’ rancour to pure love.” (II, 3, 90-92). On the groundless hope that Romeo and Juliet’s marriage may end the feud between the houses of Capulet and Montague. It should have occurred to Friar Lawrence that the marriage between Romeo and Juliet would only have aggravated both houses even more. Especially if each house had contained anybody else like Tybalt. Furthermore, the feud between Capulet and Montague had been standing from before Romeo was even born. It is unlikely that a sixteen plus year-old feud would end due to two members of the houses falling in love. It is more likely to just heighten the feud.

Secondly, the demands of the society and the law that they were living in at the time also created unreasonable circumstances for Romeo and Juliet. The decades old conflict between Capulet and Montague causes a very intense enmity between the members of the two households. For this reason, Romeo and Juliet’s love must remain hidden due to the extensive fear of rejection of their unification. Apart from this, after the initial fight in Act I, Prince Escalus states that “If ever you disturb our streets again/ your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace” (I, 1, 90-91). Romeo’s exile is caused by the death of Tybalt, which was caused by the death of Mercutio. Technically, Romeo should not have been banished at all, as according to Montague “His fault concludes but what the law should end,/ the life of Tybalt” (III, 1, 178-179). Meaning that Romeo has only done what the law would have done, which is to sentence Tybalt to death. However, the Prince’s word was law in Verona, and anything uttered by him was not to be ignored. If the society was different, Romeo should have been granted a trial at least, and as he had only done what the law itself would’ve upheld, he would not have been exiled.

Verona’s society is such that if a command was uttered by the lord of the house, such as Lord Capulet or Lord Montague, it would be extremely disrespectful to disobey it. The lord of the house gives orders that cannot be disputed. Juliet refuses to marry County Paris after the exile of Romeo, and in response to this, Lord Capulet says “I tell thee what: get thee to church a’Thursday/ Or never after look me in the face/ Speak not, reply not, do not answer me!” (III, 5, 161-163). Lord Capulet believes that Juliet should marry Paris due to it being his will, or to never again look him in the face, speak to him, reply to him, or answer him. Due to this, Juliet goes to Friar Lawrence who devises a desperate plan to escape her fate, which again causes the death of both her and Romeo.

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