Before deciding whether Fate was responsible for certain events

Before deciding whether Fate was responsible for certain events and conflicts in the love of Romeo and Juliet, it is significant that we first answer the obvious question: What is fate? Well, according to some Dictionaries, fate is the ‘inevitable destiny or necessity destined term of life; doom.’ In simpler more understandable English, fate can be described as a preplanned chain of events controlling one’s life, or as many believed in Shakespeare’s time, fate is where your path in life is written in the stars.From one viewpoint, it is true to believe that most of what happens in the play, especially the most relevant conflicts that lead it to be a tragedy were caused by either the mistakes the couple made themselves or the mistakes made by the characters who influenced them. (Five characters in the play deeply affect the tragic road of the couple, the Friar, Benvolio, Mercutio, Tybalt and the Nurse). From another viewpoint, it is also true that Shakespeare reminds us that many events may be partially affected by the unfortunate fate of the two lovers.This is shown on many occasions by the language used in the play. ‘Star crossed lovers’ in the chorus is one of many references made by which the audience are able to establish that fate has an important part in the play. We may also say that fate was at work when they met, for is it not fate that Romeo had to fall in love with the daughter of the enemy? Although the characters above seem to make things worse, and are the cause to some extent for the tragic end of the couple, all but Tybalt are trying to be helpful.Therefore we might assume that it is fate that makes all their helpfulness go amiss and make it seem as though they are meddling. Causality is very obvious during the course of the play, as one event leads to a consequence and that consequence in turn leads to another and so on; you could well describe it as a chain of events where the next event is triggered by the first. To establish if the events in Romeo and Juliet are fate or if they are decisions chosen by the couple we shall look at each event in the chain.The chain starts when the Capulet servant asks for Romeo’s help in reading the list of invitations. It is apparent by this time that Romeo is love-struck. He believes that he is in love with Rosaline but in fact is actually in love with the idea of being in love. Rosaline is simply not interested. Romeo use’s oxymoron’s to describe his distress such as, ‘O brawling love, O loving hate’. Here Romeo realises that Rosaline is attending the party and is then persuaded by Benvolio to gatecrash the party.Benvolio gives Romeo advice that he should go to the party with an ‘Unattainted eye’ and he would find that Rosaline who he thinks is a ‘swan’ is nothing better than a ‘crow’. Here we see that Romeo seems weak as he is not willing to contradict Benvolio. You may say it was fate that made the servant ask Romeo of all people to read the list, or you can say this is a choice Romeo makes as he could have easily put his foot down and refused to go. We could also say that Benvolio played a great part in starting the chain of events which led to tragedy.Juliet is much quieter then Romeo but is a lot more strong willed. In the beginning of the play Juliet has no knowledge of love but we see her strength when she is asked what she thinks of Paris she obediently promises to ‘look to like’. Here we see Juliet has not readily agreed to marry Paris but has satisfied her mother by saying she will consider Paris as a husband. This is something she chooses to do and therefore fate may not have played a part in Juliet’s being at the party. Yet is it not fate that makes Paris appear at the same time as Romeo?We see Romeo’s weakness again when he is with Mercutio and other friends heading towards the party. Romeo has a premonition here of his `Untimely death`. You see a lot of dramatic irony in the play and this is a good example, as the audience are already told in the chorus that the lovers are going to die in the end. Here Shakespeare again is trying to put the destinies of Romeo and Juliet in the hands of fate by using astrology in the premonition, ‘Yet hanging in the stars’. But is it really fate? You may say no for Romeo has the choice of trusting his instincts and refusing to go to the party as this may have helped avert both his and Juliet’s untimely death.The next event in the chain is at the party where Romeo and Juliet first meet. Before the lovers actually meet Tybalt recognises Romeo as a Montague and tries to confront him, but Lord Capulet warns him not to cause a scene. Tybalt grudgingly agrees not to disturb the peace at the party but promises that the intrusion which may seem sweet now to Romeo will later convert to ‘Bitterest gall’. This is a very significant part in the play because the intrusion that the Montagues have recklessly decided to enjoy will later lead to Romeo being exiled from Verona.When the two lovers meet their love is sealed with a kiss and they are promptly interrupted by the nurse. When Juliet realises that Romeo is a Montague she is devastated, and says ‘my only love sprung from my only hate’. Romeo being the son of her enemy is shocking as she has already given her heart to him, it is ‘too late’ to change her feelings. Romeo is also shocked by Juliet’s identity and realises that his life is his ‘Foe’s debt’. Again you get the feeling that fate is responsible for this consequence, for had Romeo known that Juliet was a Capulet would he have considered falling in love with her? But, you may say they had a choice as they could have easily given up at this point and decided that their attraction was undoubtedly deadly.In the balcony scene, Romeo climbs over the wall in Capulets garden. He overhears Juliet’s confession of love. When Juliet finds out that Romeo is listening her first thoughts are for his safety as there are ‘kinsmen’ around, Romeo knows what lies ahead but he assures Juliet there is ‘more peril’ in her eye than ‘twenty of there swords’. Here Romeo seems strong compared to in the beginning of the play; we see he is willing to risk his life to be able to spend some time in the company of Juliet. We see again Juliet’s strong character in this scene as she addresses Romeo directly and plainly, asking down-to-earth questions.It is important to notice that it is Juliet who first mentions marriage ‘perform the rite’, and sets Romeo on to arrange it, showing that her commitment is absolute and unconditional. As the couple choose to get married we can argue that this scene is not fate and therefore any circumstances as an effect of the marriage will also be the doings of Romeo and Juliet themselves. But we may also argue that it was fate that bought Romeo to Juliet’s balcony at the precise time when Juliet is unknowingly confessing her love to him.The consequence of the couple’s marriage is the death of Mercutio, who is fatally wounded by Tybalt. Before Mercutio dies he puts a curse on the two families in the play, ‘A plaque o’ both your houses’. Romeo who was the peacemaker in the scene finds the death of Mercutio too much for him: ‘Fire-eyed fury be my conduct now,’ he cries. Romeo fights Tybalt and as a result Tybalt is killed. Romeo is stunned and calls himself a ‘fortune’s fool’. If we look at this scene closely we may come to the conclusion that Mercutio chose to fight Tybalt, and therefore his death is not really fate.Romeo changes from being calm to being overwhelmed with fury and as a result kills Tybalt, this also does not look like fate as it seems a rush of emotions-very human behaviour. But then again we may consider that although Romeo was trying to stop the fight Mercutio is slain under his arm and this may well have be fate. Also we wonder how out of character it is for Romeo to act so violently and kill Tybalt; it is as though he is overcome by a power out of his control which we may well conclude to be fate. This scene is in fact the tragic turning point for the play.The consequence of the rising action in the previous scene is the banishment of Romeo. The Friar encourages Romeo to follow his plan and spend the night with his loved one. As Romeo tries to kill himself the Friar stops him. Why? It may be because he would not want to be found with a dead body in his cell or, it could be because he loves Romeo as a son and would not wish him dead.The Friar then goes on to persuade Romeo that things are not as bad as they seem, and makes a plan which enables Romeo to spend their first night together and which will bring Romeo back with ‘twenty hundred thousand times more joy’ then when he leaves in tears ‘lamentation’. The Friar takes control here and influences Romeo into making decisions. If Romeo had fled without meeting Juliet, or if had not left Verona we wonder if things would have turned out differently.After Tybalt’s death Lord Capulet is making his decision to marry Juliet to Paris while Romeo and Juliet are spending their first night together. When they part it is morning and both are reluctant to separate. As Romeo is leaving Juliet has a premonition and, sees Romeo as if he is ‘at the bottom of a tomb’. This is ironic because as the audience know both Romeo and Juliet will be dead by the end of the play. Capulet is very angry when he understands that Juliet does not wish to marry Paris. He calls her a ‘disobedient wretch’ and implies that Juliet is a ‘curse’ to them.As a result of this Juliet feels very lonely and this increases when the nurse her only confidant turns against her and advices that Juliet should forget Romeo who is a ‘dishclout’ compared to Paris who she describes as an ‘eagle’. We wonder if passion is overtaking Juliet. Even when she is talking to her mother she seems to only think of Romeo, as if her world evolves around him. She becomes desperate and asks for help from a higher force, ‘is there no pity sitting in the clouds’. Juliet seems unable to think clearly and we wonder whether this is fate or if it is something she has bought on herself by allowing her love to get out of control. But is it possible to control how much we love someone?To avoid a second marriage Juliet agrees to the Friar’s plan, putting her faith in him, but later we see she is suspicious of his intentions; she say’s he might have ‘ministered’ a poison should he be ‘dishonoured’, as he got her married to Romeo to hold another marriage would make him a sinner therefore, he might want Juliet out of the way. Juliet is very mixed up here, she starts to think of the vault and imagines the nasty surprises if she awakes early. She seems afraid of madness ‘shall I not be distraught’. Although Juliet is afraid she is also desperate, her obsession is Romeo and she shows her strong character here again when she takes the potion despite her reservations. We will see that this idea leads to a number of misunderstandings and we may well rather than on fate put all the blame on the Friar as it was his plan.Even the letter that was meant to reach Romeo is not delivered, when the Friar hears of this he refers to fate ‘unhappy fortune’. This displays the worry of the Friar as he realises the disastrous consequences which could unfold if Romeo does not receive the letter. The Friar decides to go to the vault alone. Romeo receives news of the death of his Juliet from his servant Balthazar. Again we see fate take the blame for the death of Juliet ‘I defy you, stars’.We now come to the climax of the play, the death of the lovers. As Romeo begins to open the tomb Paris steps forward to stop him, they fight and Paris is wounded. Romeo only recognises Paris when he is dead and he thinks of the two of them as the victims of circumstances, both written ‘in sour misfortune’s books’. He refers to himself as a ‘betossed soul’ suggesting that like a helpless ship in a storm, he is blown hither and thither by fate. As Romeo prepares to kill himself, he says he will ‘shake the yoke of inauspicious stars/from this world-wearied flesh’. Here we see he is feeling relieved that he wont be burdened with fate anymore.Just as Romeo has drunk the poison the Friar arrives, and tells the waking Juliet to fly from the place. He goes on to talk of ‘a greater power’ which has ‘thwarted’ their ‘intents’, this is again referring to fate. The Friar leaves Juliet and runs, Juliet realising that Romeo is dead stabs herself. We ask ourselves if these deaths are fate or whether they are all avoidable. It is true that they may be as a result of the rush of emotions as the scene is extremely dramatic and the characters seem to loose their balance but, we may also argue that it is fate which makes Romeo kill himself just before the Friar arrives, and it is also fate that Juliet awakes a few seconds after Romeo kills himself. It seems they have bad luck in the end of the play. But they do not die in vain as both families realise their errors and the play ends as Capulet and Montague reconciled in their grief.After looking at each event in the play I have come to the conclusion that Romeo and Juliet are partly, fated to doom. It is true that some events could have been avoided but even within these events you get a feeling of things taking their own shape, as if it’s meant to be. Shakespeare may have meant his audience to interpret the happenings of the play as influenced by some higher power. There are countless references to fate and fortune such as ‘fortune’s fool’ and ‘betossed soul’. I therefore believe it would be inappropriate to make the theme of the play any other then fate as that is what Shakespeare seems to want, and it seems what the audience enjoy as Romeo and Juliet is the famous love story.

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