Romeo and Juliet, the classic tragedy written by William Shakespeare, is often categorized into the lesson of fate versus free will. “The deliberate construction of the play so that its action seems to lead inevitably to the catastrophe of the young lovers' deaths is known as Shakespeare's "tragic design." (Overview of Romeo and Juliet) William Shakespeare wants the audience to realize that Romeo and Juliet are destined to cross paths, hence the title of “star-crossed lovers”. Numerous tricks of chance in the play support this theory: for example, Romeo's failed attempt to stop the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt and Friar John's inability to leave Verona due to the plague. References to "fortune" and "the stars" throughout the play, particularly the description of Romeo and Juliet in the Prologue to Act I as "star-crossed lovers," also uphold this argument.” (Overview of Romeo and Juliet)
The feud between the Montagues and the Capulets had been going on long ...view middle of the document...
Many say that the extreme romantic aspect of Romeo’s personality is a play by fate that leads to the lovers’ deaths.
The play also mentions the looming occurrence of their death throughout the whole play. Shakespeare uses many different hints and words that show how the lovers were always meant to die and they could not control this fact. For example, when Mercutio is dying and yells out “A plague on both your houses,” (Act 3, Scene 1) it reminds us of the horrible fate to become Romeo and Juliet and their families. Another example of characters foreshadowing the unavoidable death is when Juliet says “O God, I have an ill-divining soul! Methinks I see thee, now thou art below, As one dead in the bottom of a tomb: Either my eyesight fails, or thou look'st pale,” (Act 3, Scene 5) as Romeo leaves her room.
Finally, one of Shakespeare’s most horrible tricks of fate is seen leading up to Romeo and Juliet’s double suicide. The first twist of fate is the failure of Friar John’s delivery of the letter to Romeo. Fate prevents Friar John from delivering the letter by him having to be quarantined because of a possible outbreak. However, fate does allow Romeo to hear news of Juliet’s “death”. Romeo also just happens to meet an apothecary poor enough to sell him poison on his journey. Possibly the cruelest tricks of fate is the timing of everything at the end of the play. Romeo arrives only slightly before Friar Lawrence. This gives Romeo just enough time to kill himself before the Friar arrives. Juliet also happens to wake up most likely less than a minute after Romeo dies. The Friar also just so happens to be out during the time of Juliet’s suicide. All of these coincidences and tricks of fate can obviously be seen throughout the scene of the deaths.
As you can see, the fate of Romeo and Juliet was never up to them. It does not matter if they had loved each other moderately. They would have still been forbidden to be together and would have died themselves anyway. Shakespeare teaches us the wonderful lesson that sometimes things are not always up to us. Sometimes, things are just up to fate.
"Overview of Romeo and Juliet." EXPLORING Shakespeare. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Discover Collection. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.