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After reading Romeo and Juliet for the first time I cannot help but wonder the role fate played in this tragic romance. Is Romeo and Juliet’s end predetermined? Does fate control Romeo and Juliet’s love?  

            The play starts out with the chorus explaining that the two children of rivaled families are born to love each other and die by suicide. This quote shows what fate already has in store for them before they are born. The first time you notice it from the characters themselves is before Romeo attends Capulets ball where he first sets eyes on Juliet, he admits he has a feeling like something is “hanging in the stars”(1.4.13) Romeo has the feeling that something was about to happen but a new love was the last thing he could have predicted.  The one thing he does speculate is that fate had control not him. This event was surprising as the reader that Romeo was not removed from the party after being recognized as an uninvited guest from the opposing family. After the two lovers make a vow to each other despite their feuding families to stay together Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin Tybalt “O’ I am fortune’s fool.” (3.1.131) He realizes afterward that he gave into fate.

            Romeo not receiving the letter from Juliet telling him the plan she and the friar arranged was probably the biggest intervention of fate. When Romeo hears of Juliet’s death he states “Is it even so? Then I defy you, stars!” (5.1.24) Romeo is convinced that he and Juliet be together despite fate. The timing of Juliet’s wake up just a short while after Romeo drinks the poison was a bit cruel as well. So not only did Romeo not get the message of her plan, but he hastily reacted leaving her no choice but to do the same.

            If any one of these events did not occur, their relationship would have been significantly different. These young lovers were fate’s way of bringing these two families together, the alternative would have been them killing each other off one by one. Fate sacrificed four lives to save hundreds. Does fate get to claim the credit for the deaths of Tybalt and Mercutio? With many warning to stop the feud and violence fate finally took control of the situation and made a statement that neither side could ignore. Although both sides suffered great loss I would say that Juliet’s father suffered the greatest. He had lost his only kin who would have allowed his legacy to continue. With Juliet’s death he had no one to pass his family’s fortune to. He states this perfectly in “Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir” (4.5.38)

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One thought on “Fate or Carelessness

  1. michaeldrago

    This seems to me like a basic questioning of how we should view the relationship between Romeo and Juliet as a whole. It seems like Shakespeare goes back and forth a tad as to whether this relationship is one brought about by destiny or one that is simply the result of two overexcited lovers, though I would argue that he leans heavily towards the former. Regardless of where one stands on that question, it does inevitably change the interpretation of the remainder of the play, including such events like the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt.

    Reply

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