Fortune and Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
"Romeo and Juliet " is a play more generally known for being a love
story, exploring how the passion between two people can over come the
complications of political disagreements between their families.
However, fate is undoubtedly involved in their meeting and falling in
love, and is a pivotal part of the story. The playwright, William
Shakespeare, makes this apparent from the very beginning of the play
in the chorus. He does this to create a sense of expectation from the
audience, which makes us feel more involved in the play, as we develop
a sense of pathos for the two lovers, Romeo and Juliet.
The play begins with a chorus in the form of a sonnet. Shakespeare
deliberately chooses to summarise the play in this way to illuminate
two of the main themes that run throughout, and to allows the audience
to identify subtle details in the dialogue later on in the play, which
otherwise may have gone unnoticed, increasing our understanding of the
dramatic irony within it. In traditional Greek tragedies, a person
would narrate to the audience at appropriate intervals to explain
exactly what was happening. In contrast, a sonnet, aside from being a
concise method of telling the story, is stereotypically a poem based
on love. Therefore, the audience become aware that the play is a
tragic love story.
Line six of the sonnet "A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life"
shows how Romeo and Juliet's lives are governed by destiny, as we
associate the phrase "star cross'd" with astronomy, and fortune
telling, the idea that they are not in control of their lives but that
they are already written in the stars. The repetition of the word
"death" in lines eight and nine "Doth with their death, bury their
parent's strifeâ€¦The fearful passage of their death mark'd love"
enforce the fact that only the death of Romeo and Juliet can put an
end to the feud between the two houses of Capulet and Montague which
is destroying the society of Verona (the town in which the play is
set). This is stated again in line eleven "Which but their children's
end, nought could remove". The word "nought" suggests a finality about
the tragic situation of the two lovers, and reinforces the reality
that there is no alternative event that could finish their families'
feud. This surely means that these two children were born to die. This
is a complex and most unjust idea, which Shakespeare uses to force the
audience to accept the iniquitous nature of the feud and that the
sacrifice of Romeo and Juliet, although distressing, may be necessary
to end it. This creates a sense of dramatic tension.
The idea of using Romeo and Juliet as a sacrifice does have religious
connotations which is built upon in Act 1 scene 5 when Romeo uses many
references to light (which we...