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Romeo and Juliet is written in many versions and is famous for its adoration, devotion and love. The most popular version of the play is Shakespeare’s version which was first performed around 1595, in the Elizabethan Age. During this time most Elizabethans believed in fate, fate is a consequence of events which are destined to happen inevitably, in this play we come to know that it was fate which bought the lovers together. The play is set in a place called Verona, which is a real town in Northern Italy and this we learn from the prologue when it mentions “In fair Verona.
” The Prologue introduces the play and gives us an understanding on what the story will be about.
Overall the story is about a boy called Romeo and girl named Juliet who fall deeply in love as soon as they meet each other for the first time. There is a special connection between the two which makes them fall in love at first sight.
However being together and getting happily married is not so easy for the two, as the story continues we get to know that the family of Romeo, Montague and Juliet’s family, Capulet are enemies. The enmity between the two families goes a long way back; the prologue refers this to an “ancient grudge break into new mutiny”. Sadly enmity and hatred between the two families was just one barrier in the lovers’ relationship. The ill-will caused a broken-hearted ending with both Romeo and Juliet dying for each others love.
The Prologue is a sonnet, a single stanza of fourteen lines, outlining the story. From the opening of the scenes of the play, Romeo and Juliet were destined to fall in love and eventually die together. The Prologue tells us that Romeo and Juliet are “a pair of star crossed lovers take their life”. Star crossed lovers is another phrase for destiny as when you talk about stars people often relate it to fate. Therefore the story must have been related to reality, people would have believed in some parts of the play as the audience Shakespeare wrote for would have believed in destiny. “Death mark’d love” is another example which relates to fate, this is describing their love, it could mean that they were meant to die from the minute they fell in love with each other and fate would be the deciding factor. It informs us that we can’t control anything that happens or takes place; it’s not in our hands to write our fate so we have no control over our fate either. What will happen is already decided, it’s all destined therefore no matter how hard we try to do things it won’t go according to how we want.
Before Romeo even meets or speaks to Juliet he has a dream of him dying at a young age. Towards the end of Act 1, Scene 4 Romeo says “…By some vile forfeit of untimely death But He that hath the steerage of my course. Direct my sail!” This shows that Romeo believed in fate as he is asking God for the power to steer him to the right path, a different path of fate. Romeo must have felt that he has no control over his life therefore he was looking for help to be directed not to what he dreamt but to be turned away from it. I think fate is power which controls the course of life, a person’s future as well as their death. It also controls who and what we are and what we will become. Fate managed to pull Romeo and Juliet into its plans which caused certain events to take place and ended up uniting Romeo and Juliet together at the point of their death.
There are many ideas of love in this play. A good example of this would be Romeo’s ‘love’ for Rosaline. Romeo isn’t acting himself and is very separate from his family. This worries his parents and his cousin, Benvolio decides to talk to him to find out what’s wrong. Romeo’s change in behaviour is because of love. He isn’t happy because he feels that his love for Rosaline has been rejected and gone unnoticed by her. Romeo feels alone and lost from everyone else. This is shown when he tells Benvolio, “This is not Romeo, he’s some other where.” This is an intriguing quote as Romeo is physically talking to Benvolio but the ‘real’ Romeo is somewhere else. So which Romeo is more real? This shows us that Romeo’s love for Rosaline wasn’t real, he was really infatuated with her, and he only liked the concept of being in love. If Romeo was really in love with Rosaline then he wouldn’t have been ‘some other where’, as when you’re in love you cannot be confused about it.
By chance a Capulet servant, who cannot read, asks Romeo and Benvolio to read the names on the guest list for the party. Benvolio suggests gate crashing the masque, and says he will show Romeo women much more beautiful than Rosaline. Romeo attended the party when he was in the idea of being in love with Rosaline however he came back falling in love at first sight with Juliet. If Romeo had not been invited to the party by the servant then he probably would not have gone. He was destined to meet Juliet just as everything happens for a reason; the illiterate servant inviting Romeo also happened for the reason being that Romeo could meet Juliet. Before entering the Capulets orchard Romeo says “I fear, too early; for my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars shall bitterly begin his fearful date with the night’s revels…” This means that Romeo senses that something is going to go wrong, he feels uneasy about going however he also knows that he can’t do anything about it as whatever is to happen is going to occur due to fate.
When Romeo first sees Juliet he says “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night”. Love is seen as an ineffable feeling or intense attraction shared in passionate or intimate relationships, its eternal so if Romeos love for Rosaline was real then he would have never doubted it. The party was one of the events that relate the most to fate. As Romeo was wearing a mask, Juliet didn’t even know that she was falling in love with a Montague. Therefore if she saw his face before he spoke then maybe she wouldn’t have fallen in love with him. So her feelings at such a young age were true and strong and this fate could not change. Afterwards when they find out each others identity, it isn’t so much of a big issue for them, they tend to listen to their hearts which leads their love to be such a strong feeling. So all these events occurred because of fate, if not fate that what else could possibly lead to Romeo and Juliet meeting in such a way? What were the chances of this entire love happening to two enemies?
One of the most famous scenes in all of Shakespeare’s plays is the balcony scene in Act 2 Scene 2 this is because of the language used and the way their love is expressed. Juliet who is standing in her balcony proclaims her love for Romeo not knowing that he is standing below her in the Capulet orchard. She says to herself “O Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore art thou Romeo?” She is questioning why Romeo has to be known as Romeo a Montague. This balcony scene is very symbolic because it shows the light and darkness as well as two people declaring their love for each other. Romeo imagines Juliet to be the sun whom transforms darkness into light and he also compares her to the moon. He personifies the moon, calling it “envious” and “sick and pale with grief” and assumes Juliet, the sun to be far brighter as well as beautiful. These are key quotes as they show a great example of the dark and light motif which runs throughout the play. Shakespeare often set the scenes in either early morning or late at night he used it to describe the situation and to set the scene. In line 36 Juliet makes a key point, she tells us that she is willing to denounce her name for the sake of her love. A name doesn’t hold great importance to her this we know when she says “What’s a Montague?
It is not hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face…” So we know that Juliet doesn’t see the importance of a name when she is experiencing love. Juliet also says that if a rose were called by a different name it would still smell as sweet; Juliet uses an image of a beautiful flower to talk about Romeo. When she describes her ears drinking in Romeo’s words this implies that all her senses are awakened by her love for him. From the balcony scene we also come to know that Juliet is much more mature for her age and more mature than Romeo. Romeo rushes into decisions however Juliet acts more like an adult and thinks the situation through more systematically. She shows her practicality when Romeo asks her what he should swear his love by. She rationally replies, “Do not swear at all; or if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self, which is the god of my idolatry, and I’ll believe thee.” She is passionate about her love, but remembers her adult duties and gives Romeo an ultimatum to marry her if his love is true.
The rush to get married is because of Juliet’s parents who have begun to pressure Juliet into agreeing to her marriage with Paris. Even though Juliet’s immediate instincts is that Romeo is in danger, Romeo is fearless and believes he is protected by their love. “And I am proof against their enmity”. Romeo tries to reassure Juliet that he is not in danger by telling her that he is protected against their hatred. Having once proclaimed their love for each other we feel the magic of the moment and passion between the two lovers. It shows the deep affection Romeo and Juliet have for each other. Shakespeare makes the love of both Romeo and Juliet seem unnatural that Romeo thinks he is dreaming, “Being in night, all this is but a dream”. Romeo is trying to say that his love has taken him into another world. His behaviour must have changed and in a sense he starts to have a dreamier attitude. He constantly thinks about his love and at times might not be aware of what is happening around him. All of this is similar to a dream world taken over by love. Romeo and Juliet secretly marry the next day in the Friar’s cell. At first Friar Lawrence disagreed to the marriage but then later on he thinks it through and agrees to it. He only agreed to their marriage because he felt that if Romeo and Juliet got married then it would probably lead to an end to the feud between the two families.
Subsequently the problem Romeo and Juliet face is to do with Tybalt (Juliet’s cousin) and Mercutio (friend of Romeo). They both get into a fight because Tybalt was angry that Romeo and his friends attended Juliet’s engagement party. The fight lead to Mercutio’s death, Romeo tried to stop the argument at first but didn’t succeed. Romeo does not want to fight against Tybalt because as he and Juliet are married, Tybalt is now Romeo’s relative too. However as he was not able to tell Tybalt this he fought against him and killed Tybalt. The death of Tybalt caused even more problems for the couple, as now the Prince would want Romeo to be killed because he had warned the Montague’s and Capulet’s to have no more fights. With the help of Friar Lawrence Romeo gets exiled and hides in Mantua. As Romeo is not able to meet his love Juliet anymore he attempts suicide, Friar Lawrence explains to Romeo that everything will be fine and not to take any hasty decisions. Whilst this happening Juliet is also in a complicated situation; her forced marriage to Paris is just around the corner, therefore she goes to Friar Lawrence for some help in what she shall do. They both come up with a plan which would stop Juliet’s wedding to Paris so that she could run away to Romeo.
Juliet would fake her own death by drinking sleeping potion and Friar Lawrence would declare her dead. A message would be sent to Romeo telling him that Juliet is actually in no real danger and that they would unite soon. However Romeo misses the note and arrives at Juliet’s funeral thinking she is really dead. Because Romeo never receives the letter, he buys poison with the intention to kill himself upon seeing her dead in her tomb. Once Juliet regains consciousness she does the same and kills herself too. This could be assumed as fate, maybe they were meant to die, and their destiny was neither in Friars hands nor their own. Everything was going according to plan until fate took another course. Romeo had heard that the daughter of the Capulets had indeed been declared dead; Romeo believed this and went back to Verona, just missing the message Friar Lawrence had sent telling him the truth. If the message had arrived on time then their fate would have turned out to be different however it didn’t and that must be because it just wasn’t meant to be. This was just another event in fates game.
Romeo and Juliet’s love was set up by fate, even their suicides were predestined which they both foresaw. Throughout the play they both have dreams of their deaths. In Act 3 Scene 5 Juliet says, “Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb.” She sees Romeo dead and that too in a tomb and this is where he eventually ends up dying. How could she have possibly seen the future if it wasn’t already decided for her? Dreams often do hold a meaning to individuals and for Romeo and Juliet it showed them what was going to happen. Romeo and Juliet is very romantic, even though their love led them to their deaths, the lovers were lucky to find each other. In Act 5 Scene 1 Romeo says, “I defy you stars.”
This shows us that he defies fate and what the stars write, as he is deeply in love with Juliet he refuses to accept her death. Romeo needs to realise that he has no control over his destiny, he cannot change destiny no matter how hard he tries. It’s already predetermined. In Act 5 Scene 3 when Juliet wakes up from the sleeping potion she asks the Friar where Romeo is. The Friar responds by saying, “A greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our intents.” This could be defined as the Friar telling Juliet that a power above their control has spoiled their plan, that power being fate. At the end of Act 5 Scene 3 the Prince says, “Some shall be pardoned, and some punished” because some people tried to help Romeo and Juliet therefore they should be forgiven whereas the head of the Capulet and Montague couldn’t end the feud between each other so they should be punished.
Romeo and Juliet’s story is a form of cruel fate because the lovers end up dying because of their family’s ruthless hatred, although it is not fair the lovers dying how they did it was probably meant to bring the families together. Fate is raised commonly in the play, with constant references to the stars as well as light which is symbolic for love, knowledge and heaven; light represents a bright point and reminds us of happiness. The play also refers to darkness regularly which is emblematic for hate, ignorance and earth; this gives us a feeling of detestation and brings us down. The tragic ending proves that maybe some bad things are just blessings. Maybe it was a deserving motive; maybe their deaths saved something on a much larger scale happening between the families in the future. As catastrophic as their love story was, it managed to turn hate to love. Destiny made things happen for the lovers and so did their love, the deep emotions that they had for each other and the enmity driven in by their families.
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