Romeo and JulietFate or Chance?


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Romeo and Juliet Fate or Chance?

One view of the play sees Romeo and Juliet as victims of fate. To what extent do you agree with this? Having a complex plot, and too many deeply involved characters, we cannot simply state that Romeo and Juliet were purely victims of fate. The tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet, and the play itself, are anchored on three notions that of fate, chance and choice. Fate contributed, though it was not the sole factor in the deaths of the young lovers. The many ‘unstoppable’ events, Shakespeare’s telling us of their love being told in the stars, and the ancient grudge between the families, are prime examples of fate being a part of Romeo and Juliet. Chance in the undetermined figure in Romeo and Juliet, with coincidence and misadventure playing in every readers mind as the many events unfold. Choice; vital decisions by each character, and judgments based on what an individual believed to be right or wrong, once again shows how many varied outcomes there may have been. At the end of the day though, due to fate, chance and choice, Romeo and Juliet committed suicide together, completing a tragic five days in which they fell in love, married and eventually died. Romeo and Juliet, many believe, was a tragedy brought upon by destiny. Fate may well have brought Romeo and Juliet together, or at least contributed along the rocky path to their deaths. Many events were shaped as fate in Romeo and Juliet. If Mercutio was indeed destined to die, then perhaps the entire tragedy was unavoidable. Romeo, often foreseeing fate, indicates this as he tries to stop Tybalts and Mercutios brawling Gentlemen, for shame, forbear this outrage! And again after killing Tybalt O, I am Fortunes fool. Fate may have also had it that Friar John was unable to deliver the important message to the banished Romeo. These key events, among others, have extended the role of fate past the prologue. Fate by the stars, is given to us a factor in Romeo and Juliet’s deaths. In the prologue where we are told, A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their lives. From this, it is easy to see that Shakespeare wanted us to have the idea of Romeo and Juliet being killed by fate heavily weighing on our minds. Another look at the play being determined by the stars sees Romeo trying to alter fates destructive path Is it e’en so? Then I defy you, stars!, Romeo exclaims, saying that fate has played role enough; he will dictate what is to come. Once inside the tomb with Juliet, Romeo again challenges fate Will I set up my everlasting rest, or shake the yoke of inauspicious stars. Even as the stars supposedly hold the fate of Romeo and Juliet, the families of Montague and Capulet still have much to contribute. Once again, the prologue introduces us to fate, this time from a family perspective. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny…From forth the fatal loins of these two foes… Here we are again given the thought that Romeo and Juliet are destined to die, and that the bitter feud between their families has a major part to play. Especially by using the word ‘from,’ it tells us that as a result of the two quarreling families, there is destined to be a death toll. What’s in a name? A love-sick Juliet complains of her ill-fate of being Capulet, as does Romeo of being Montague, when he tells a servant, Ay, mine own fortune in my misery. This illustrates as the story progresses, that like Juliet, he cares not of a name. The role of fate in their families plans and histories, and by the stars, is shown in many instances, saying that the deaths of Romeo and Juliet may have been predetermined and unavoidable. Chance coincidence and misadventure, may well have brought the downfall of Romeo and Juliet. The ever analytical Juliet ponders the role of coincidence in her new found love My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Perhaps the irony of coincidence lies in the only true love each Romeo and Juliet found was in that of a loathed enemy. A major coincidence that shaped the entire story, would be the chance meeting by Romeo and Benvolio with a servant who could not read. My master is the great rich Capulet; and if you be not of the house of Montagues, I pray you come and crush a cup of wine, the servant tells Romeo. Romeo’s luck is extended with it being a masquerade ball; therefore his Montague face being disguised. These coincidences lead to the ‘love at first sight’ meeting of Romeo and Juliet. With coincidence being beneficial to the cause of Romeo and Juliet, another aspect of chance; misadventure, was quite the opposite. Contradicting its stance on fate, the prologue tells us of chance their misadventur’d piteous overthrows. Misadventure in Romeo and Juliet relates mainly to the title characters, whose death may have come about due to Misadventure’s winding path. Many characters often indicate that Romeo and Juliet’s misadventure is their own fault for being passionate, young lovers, such as Balthasar, when warning Romeo not to be rash. I do beseech you, sir, have patience your looks are pale and wild, and do import some misadventure. Juliet too experiences great misadventure, after her secret marriage to Romeo, her parents arrange for her to marry the County Paris. It may be so, for it is not mine own, says Juliet, of her proclaimed ‘fortune’; or what she believes to be misfortune and bad timing. Romeo and Juliet did, after all, kill themselves, and even chose to continue their relationship - both knowing the disastrous consequences it may bring. Friar Laurence chose to marry Romeo and Juliet; Mercutio chose to brawl with Tybalt, and Romeo, although overcome with emotion, did chose to kill Tybalt. As illustrated in these critical turning points, the characters emotions greatly influenced their choices, which in turn, may have indeed killed Romeo and Juliet. All characters at some point made decisions based on what they believed to be right or wrong. In one respect I’ll thy assistant be. For this alliance may so happy prove, to turn your households’ rancour into pure love, justifies Friar Laurences motives for marring Romeo and Juliet. An unjustified motive of the Friars may have been to give Juliet the poison, though Juliet herself chose to drink it. In the case of the Apothecary, My poverty, not my will consents, he said, as he sold the poison to end Romeo’s life. Three simple words by Prince Escalus, Romeo is banished, may have permanently changed the rocky course of love and life for Romeo and Juliet. This vital decision was correct, even if Prince, like most other characters, did not contemplate results before they made decisions. Even if they did, no one could possibly think of the eventual outcome in the end, Romeo and Juliet killed themselves because their judgment told them it was the only thing to do. Therefore it was not entirely fate that lead to Romeo and Juliet committing suicide, nor chance, nor a decision made by a particular character, but a combination of many factors. We are not offered a simple solution in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, and whether it was their destiny, misadventure, coincidence, or choices made by certain characters, we cannot blame the deaths of Romeo and Juliet on one aspect. Word Count 150

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