Romeo and Juliet are ‘ Star-Crossed Lovers
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Romeo and Juliet are victims of fate, which is a dominant force from the beginning of the play. In the opening prologue we are told that Romeo and Juliet are “star-cross’d” and “death-mark’d”. The audience learns that the young lovers are doomed to destruction and tragedy.
“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.” (Prologue line 5-6)
Many characters believe they are controlled by the stars. The plot stresses the power fate has on Romeo and Juliet’s lives. Although the characters foresee the future, they are not able to change the outcome. Even the power of love is not able to change their fate. Romeo and Juliet are destined to die and end their parents’ feud.
The characters make references to the stars and express premonitions of doom. Romeo becomes a pitiful puppet in the hands of fate when he says:
“I fear too early; for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet handing in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date…
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.” (Act 1 Sc 5 Line 106)
Proving that Romeo feels uneasy about going to the Capulet party but he does not follow his instincts. Even Friar Lawrence tries to reassure himself with prayers, yet he notes that:
“These violent delights have violent ends.”(Act2 Sc 6 Line 9)
As Romeo leaves for exile, Juliet looks down from her window and murmurs:
“Methinks I see thee, now thou are so low,
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb.” (Act 3 Sc 5 Line 55)
Juliet has a vision of Romeo dead in a tomb, which is where Romeo ends up in the end of the play. Hence, the characters have dreams and omens of what fate has in store for them.
Several preplanned events influence the destiny of Romeo and Juliet. If Romeo and Benvolio had not bumped into the Capulet servant would was illiterate in Act Scene they would have found out about the party or that Rosaline was going to be there. Romeo and Juliet may not have met. Romeo did not receive the message from the Friar John because of the quarantine in Mantua. Friar Laurence then has the misfortune of accidentally tripping over gravestones while running to meet Juliet. Friar Lawrence’s fall delays him until after Romeo has committed suicide. When the Friar Lawrence’s plan goes wrong, he accuses fate and cries out, “Unhappy fortune!” Therefore, the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is fate driven.
The characters believe that their lives are controlled by the power of the stars. Romeo does not believe he has control of his life and he looks to another power to direct him. He calls out,
“…He that hath steerage over my course
Direct my sail!” (Act 1 Sc 5 Line 112)
Juliet predicts the outcome of her brief romance with Romeo. Their lives will be extinguished after shining brightly like a bolt of lightening. When Romeo runs to Friar Lawrence after killing Tybalt, Friar Lawrence acknowledges that Romeo does have bad luck:
“Affliction is enamor’d of thy parts,
And thou art wedded to calamity.” (Act 3 Sc 3 Line 2)
After Romeo is banished from Verona, Juliet urges fortune to send Romeo back to her. Juliet feels she is under the control of fate and she calls out to fortune for help. Definitely, the characters believe in the power of fate and the ability of the stars to dictate their lives.
The characters try to take charge of their lives but they are not able to change their destiny. After Mercutio dies, Romeo seeks revenge and kills Tybalt. Feeling helpless because he has killed his wife’s cousin, Romeo claims that he is “Fortune’s fool.” When Balthasar informs Romeo that Juliet is dead, Romeo yells out against the power of fate:
“Is it e’en so? Then I defy you, stars!
Thou know’st my lodging.” (Act 5 Sc 1 Line 24)
At the end of the play, Romeo tries to escape from his destiny by committing suicide to
“…shake the yoke of inauspicious stars”, (Act 5 Sc 3 Line 111)
but ironically he fulfils the prophecy declared in the opening prologue. The friar finds Romeo and Paris dead and he tries to persuade Juliet out of the tomb. He says to Juliet,
“A greater power than we can contradict
Hath thwarted our intents,” (Act 5 Sc 3 Line 153)
proving that fate has spoiled their plans. Ultimately, fate controls the characters and their efforts to change destiny is futile.
Fate is a force that becomes the powerful enemy of Romeo and Juliet. Although Romeo and Juliet experience dreams and premonitions of what the future holds, they cannot alter their destiny. Both Romeo and Juliet believe in the stars; they call out to fortune for help and direction. From the moment they meet, they realize that their love is in jeopardy because of the hatred between the Montagues and Capulets. Catastrophic events ruin Friar Lawrence’s plan to reunite the young lovers. Romeo drinks poison because he believes Juliet is dead. Juliet awakens and discovers Romeo dead, so she stabs herself with his knife. Finally, their tragic deaths end the family feud which was written in the stars.
In conclusion, the feud, fate and adolescent passion are what caused Romeo and Juliet’s demise. It is obvious that Romeo and Juliet simply were not meant to be together. Their devastating destiny was already written in the stars. No matter how much they tried to make the relationship work, it was doomed. There were circumstances throughout the course of their lives that led up to their deaths. If their parent’s had not been feuding and if the Nurse had not betrayed Juliet, the outcome of this story would have been different, although fate could not be changed.
Of course some can say that if Romeo had not acted with such sudden certainty he would have lived to watch his wife awaken. However, fate had determined that neither of the lovers would obtain happiness during their lifetime. Both Romeo and Juliet are controlled by an unalterable set of tragic events. From this point, a series of tragic mishaps prevents the lovers from experiencing happiness. The death of Tybalt, the exile of Romeo, and the unread letter propel the tragic plot forward. Fate, from the beginning, had resolved that the story of Romeo and Juliet would culminate in heartbreak. In my opinion the quote that accurately summarizes this play is, “For never was there a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo” (Act 5 Scene 3 Line.309-310).