Romeo and Juliet written by Shakespeare
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Shakespeare’s great tragedy ‘Romeo and Juliet’ tells the tale of two, ‘star crossed lovers’ who through a series of complex twists, come to an ultimately tragic end. However did Shakespeare intend to suggest that the tragic outcome was due entirely to fate, as it suggests through the dialogue of the characters? Or otherwise, was it due to the personalities of the characters and the unfortunate context of their warring families? I will discuss this in my essay.
Shakespeare begins this play with a prologue to set the scene, in which it says, ‘death mark’d.’ This quote gives the impression that the story will be tainted by misfortune from the very beginning of the play.
Following this quote, is one that is said through the dialogue of Romeo, ‘By some vile forfeit of untimely death.’ This quote suggests that something out side of his control, will act upon him, resulting in death. Later in the play, Romeo’s character again applies that fate is influencing him. This is shown when he says, ‘ o, I am fortunes fool.’ Towards the end of the play, Romeo once more suggests that fate played a part in the events that occurred. This is shown when Romeo says the following, ‘then I defy you stars.’ All of these quotes suggest that Shakespeare evidently held fate responsible for the events that took place in the play.
However Romeo’s personality is one that cannot be ignored in this play, due to his ‘risk-taking’ attitude, which could have ultimately led to the tragic ending. In this play we can see that Romeo’s ‘risk taking’ initiates the meeting of Juliet, by his attending the Capulet’s party. Romeo is again seen ‘risk taking’ when he spends the night with Juliet after he has been banished from Verona, if he was caught he would face death as a consequence. Anyone of these examples, are a result of his personality, which could have led to his death. Romeo’s courage is another major characteristic of his personality this leads him to risking death in order to see Juliet, and also later leads to their prohibited marriage. Romeo’s impulsiveness guides him to hastily declaring his love for Juliet and their marriage.
This could have been a contributing element to the tragic end, as Romeo’s impulsiveness leads to a prompt marriage, which in turn could lead to more conflict between their own two families. Another characteristic, which Romeo portrays, is his ability to be independent as his love for Juliet defies his parent’s expectations and that of their society. Some may say that their independent personalities resulted in the outcome.
Juliet’ s characteristics may have also played a major role in the events that occurred during the play. Juliet is seen in the play as courageous as she lies in her ancestor’s tomb. This courage could have supplied the two lovers’, power to defy their families in the name of love. However as both Romeo and Juliet’s personalities were courageous, it meant that they were willing to take risks and even die for each other.
Others peoples personalities, surrounding Romeo and Juliet could have also played a part in their tragic ending. Such as their families, as If it were not for the century old family feud between Romeo and Juliet families, there would have been no reason for them to hide their love and so the play would not have ended in the way in which it did.
There are also two other main characters, whose personalities may have helped the play to end with such a disastrous outcome. These are, Friar Laurence and the nurse. Friar Laurence’s personality was not one to intend the outcome. However unknown to him, his characteristic may have caused the tragic end. Friar Laurence had a considerate personality and he thought by marrying the two lovers he would be able to reunite the two families. This was not the case, thus resulting in tragedy, as a chain of events were unleashed. The nurse was also an unaware contributor in this play. Her character was mother like to Juliet and so she wanted to see Juliet happy in love. This characteristic resulted in her acting as a messenger between Romeo and Juliet, as they would not have been able to keep in contact without her help. Therefore the chain of events would not have been started hence the tragedy would not have happened without out the nurses caring personality.
In conclusion I feel that the outcome was not determined by fate but instead by the difficult situations the two lovers found themselves involved in. Their personalities played a part in the out come but I feel that, had the same characters been given a chance in different circumstances there would not have been a tragedy.