The Role of Fate in “Romeo & Juliet” by William Shakespeare
In Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare explores the tragic lives and deaths of the two “star-crossed lovers”. Both Romeo and Juliet are unable to escape their dreadful destiny, even though the strength of their love. While fate plays a significant role in the tragic deaths of the two lovers, human error and weakness also contributes to their death.
Therefore, the tragedy is that both fortune and the actions of others make their deaths inevitable. In the play, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare explores the fact that they have no control over what happens. In the Prologue it points out that Romeo and Juliet have fate against them. It says that their love is “marked for death” this points out that they have had fate against them since the get go. In the scene where Romeo is about to enter the house of the Capulets, he speaks about an unknown danger “hanging in the stars”. This notion of events expected to occur being written in the stars explains how life is predetermined by fate. In the scene where Friar Lawrence warns Romeo that people who act impulsively often have very negative and destructive consequences. This warning reminds the audience that Romeo’s fate is already predetermined, and their will in fact, be negative consequences to his actions. Shakespeare ultimately illustrates the central theme of having no control over what happens.
In the play, Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare develops the idea that the actions of others plays a larger role in the fate of the two lovers. When the illiterate servant comes up to Romeo to ask him to read the guest list. “ God ‘i’ good e’en. I pray, sir, can you read?” This scene ends up giving Romeo access to the Capulet party and if he had no access he would not have gone and would never have met Juliet. In the scene fate plays a role when Friar John could not deliver the message to Romeo because of the infection, “I could not send it – here it is again”. Because the message that Juliet was only asleep was not delivered to Romeo, Romeo assumed Juliet was dead when he found her. The tragic result was that through his grief that Juliet was dead, Romeo killed himself and as a consequence, upon waking Juliet took her life. In the party scene Tybalt wants to kill Romeo and send him out but Old Capulet says “ Let him alone. He bears himself like a portly gentleman”. In this moment, if Old Capulet had sent him out of the party he also would never have met Juliet. The actions of the servant, Old Capulet and Friar John contribute to the fate that is to befall Romeo and Juliet.In the text fate has played a major role in the final conclusion. On a larger scale, circumstances beyond Romeos control also affected the final tragedy. The family feud between the Montagues and the Capulets, predetermined that Romeo would never be accepted by the Capulets.
This feud is demonstrated in the Prologue. It is only circumstantial that Romeo is born into the Montague family. If he was born into another upper class family, Romeo might have been accepted by the Capulets. Again, on a wider scale, the Black Death affected the life circumstances of all of Europe and neither Romeo or the Montagues or the Capulets could avoid this historical circumstance. “So fearful were they of infection”. Friar John’s fear of the Black Death prevented him from delivering the fateful message to Romeo. He had control of his actions but chose to remain safe inside, thus affecting the final tragic conclusion.
These wide spread circumstances can be seen as part of the role of fate in this play. In the play Romeo and Juliet. Fate is an inevitable force it is unseen and unheard, but there nonetheless. Each character in the story is aware of fate, and most of all, Romeo has a special relationship with fate. All of these unfortunate events throughout the play are caused by fate, many parts are coincidence and the actions of others resulting in the death of the stars crossed lovers. The stars are against Romeo and Juliet. It is evident that fate is the cause of their tragic end.
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