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Fate in Romeo and Juliet

Essay by review  •  November 2, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,145 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,925 Views

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Fate, for better or worse, interrupts everyone's daily life, whether he/she chooses to acknowledge it or not. Thinking about fate conjures up different feelings for different people; some people believe strongly in it, some people think of fate as ridiculous, and some do not care one way or the other. However, in many instances, such as in William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, far too many coincidences occur to be strictly coincidental. Fate creates a powerful effect throughout the entire play, starting in the prologue, continuing as Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love, and tragically ending in the lovers' deaths.

In the prologue, Shakespeare makes it undoubtedly clear that Romeo and Juliet are subject to fate. The audience is first introduced to Shakespeare's ideas of fate when he describes Romeo and Juliet as "star-cross'd lovers" (I. Prologue. l. 6). Shakespeare chooses to refer to the lovers as being "star-cross'd", meaning that they are doomed from birth because of the position of the planets at that time. This conveys to the reader that no matter what actions Romeo and Juliet take during the course of the play, their destinies remain doomed. Farther along in the prologue, Shakespeare continues to interpolate fate into his play, referring to the love of Romeo and Juliet as "death-mark'd," (I. Prologue. l. 9) another word describing fate. By using this specific word, Shakespeare informs his audience that the love of Romeo and Juliet is destined to end in death. Because of the use of two very strong words describing fate, "star-crossed" and "death-marked," a reader easily sees that Romeo and Juliet possess little control over the events that eventually lead to their deaths.

After the initial dose of fate in the prologue, Shakespeare continues to utilize fate as Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love. As Romeo and his cousin, Benvolio, stroll down a street near the Capulet's house (I. ii), an illiterate servant with a list of invitees to the Capulet's party approaches Romeo asking, "I pray, sir, can you read?" (I. ii. l. 57). These few seemingly unimportant words help set off fate's spiraling journey. Unaware that by reading the list his life will dramatically change, Romeo reads the list, and the thankful servant invites him to the prestigious party. Because Rosaline, the girl Romeo currently loves, will be at the party, Romeo decides to go. Under normal circumstances, none of these events take place. Fate causes Romeo to be at the right place at the right time. If he does not walk near the Capulet's house or if the servant is able to read, Romeo does not attend the party, thus he does not meet Juliet. After Romeo attends the party, fate strikes again as he stumbles into the Capulet's orchard while trying to escape his friends. Juliet, after meeting Romeo mere hours before, emerges onto her balcony and, unaware that Romeo can hear her, proclaims her love for Romeo:

Oh Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name;

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love

And I'll no longer be a Capulet. (II. ii. ll. 33-36)

After Romeo hears this, he realizes how Juliet truly feels about him, thus responding and proclaiming his love as well. Normally, Romeo does not hear Juliet's proclamation for two reasons: he does not stumble right into the Capulet's orchard, right under Juliet's balcony, and Juliet does not proclaim her love aloud from the balcony. However, fate's plan causes Romeo to be in the right place at the right time again and causes Juliet to unleash her emotions from her balcony so that Romeo can hear her. Romeo and Juliet now love each other dearly, and fate assumes all responsibility.

In addition to reigning over their love lives, fate also causes the downfall of Romeo and Juliet.

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