Romeo, Juliet and Fate : An Essay

Fate is a like an ocean, you never really know where you are going, most of the time you end up getting to your end destination safely but on the odd occasion you hit an iceberg and drown, unfortunately for Romeo and Juliet. Fate plays a huge role in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Without the presence of fate the play would have a different outcome. One of the many reasons why this play is such a well-known classical read is because of the way that Shakespeare has intertwined fate and Romeo and Juliet’s predetermined destiny throughout the whole play without making it blatantly obvious. Shakespeare has given Romeo and Juliet have a very unfortunate fate that can be predicted throughout the story using different literary techniques . Three interesting ways that Shakespeare portrays fate are prophecies, stars, fortune and acts of God. Shakespeare uses literary techniques such as foreshadowing and dialogue to show this.

One of the many examples of fate is Romeo and Juliet are the Prophecies. Prophecies often come up in this play and are used to show what may happen in the future. Characters usually communicate prophecies without knowing it. Shakespeare’s prophecies are using a literature technique called foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is used to give hints to the reader about what may happen later is the play. An example of a prophecy in Romeo and Juliet is when they are getting married and Friar Lawrence says ‘These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die like fire and powder which as they kiss consume’. In this quote Shakespeare uses the terms ‘violent delights’ and ‘violent ends’ this is referring to  Romeo and Juliet’s love and their death and in general prophesying that they are going to die (spoiler alert).  Their ‘triumph’ is their death, which dies like ‘fire and powder’, powder is referring to gunpowder which when mixed with fire creates an explosion. This quote tells us that when they die, it will be huge and explosive and have an effect on many others especially their families. These prophecies show that all the way through the play Romeo and Juliet have limited control over what is going to happen. Another example of a prophecy is when Tybalt and Mercutio are fighting, Tybalt stabs Mercutio and he says ‘A plague o’both your houses! I am sped’ This is prophesying the loss that each house is going to experience when Romeo and Juliet die.

Throughout the play there are many references to the stars and to fortune these are mostly through the use of dialogue. Back in Romeo and Juliet’s era the stars were often used to predict the future and had a lot of meaning. The stars were often read or deciphered to read one’s destiny or to offer guidance through a hard time. Shakespeare uses dialogue to show this. Dialogue is when a characters talk about a topic or express feelings or thoughts through verbal means of communication. Romeo often talks about the stars or to the stars. One of his quotes is ‘I defy you, stars’,shouted at the night sky. In this quote the stars represent Romeo’s fate. This means that he is defying his destiny and going his own way instead of following the stars. He is trying to reject his destiny. Another quote that shows this is ‘O, I am fortunes fool’. Romeo is recognising that he has no control and that fortune is controlling him like a puppet.

In Romeo and Juliet’s time, everyone believed in God and God was a big part of life, whenever something hugely coincidental happened it was considered  an act of God. ‘God’ also plays a role in Romeo and Juliet’s tragedy.An example of this is when Friar Lawrence sent the letter to Romeo about Juliet taking the potion to look like she was dead. Unfortunately the mailman got affected by the plague and was quarantined meaning that the letter was never delivered which leads to Romeo killing himself, after Friar Lawrence finds out about the letter not getting delivered he says ‘Unhappy fortune! By my brotherhood the letter was not nice but full of charge’. Meaning what unfortunate fate but that the letter carried bad news. The plague was considered an act of God and that the letter not being delivered meant that God didn’t want the letter to be delivered. Back in this time many would believe that since God didn’t allow the letter to get to Romeo that he wanted Romeo and Juliet to die. Another example of an act of God is when the servant came across Benvolio and Romeo first when he couldn’t read the invites to the ball and he says ‘I pray, sir, can you read?’. This ‘act of God’ led to Romeo  attending the ball and meeting Juliet. These ‘acts of God’ are vital to the storyline because without them the outcome may be completely different.

In conclusion, you can tell from the points above that Romeo and Juliet had little to no control over what was going to happen to them and that due to their unfortunate predetermined fate. Three points that demonstrate this are prophecies, stars, fortune and acts of God. Shakespeare has used literary techniques such as foreshadowing and dialogue to emphasize this. Throughout reading this play I have been able to identify how Shakespeare used different techniques to show the reader what was going to happen and how important storylines are.

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