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Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Fate is something that is destined to happen or turn out in a specific way. It is one aspect of our lives that sets the path for our lifetime. It cannot be altered or edited no matter what happens, it is just how we are destined to live our lives. It can lead to either destruction and accident or a lifetime full of happiness. Fate plays a major role in the play, Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare. The leading characters Romeo and Juliet are from two rival families who are “star-crossed lovers” but are destined to end in tragedy.

This tragedy ends their lives but brings their families together in the end. In William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare utilizes fate to show that the death of the prominent characters was destined to happen.

To begin, the way that Romeo first met Juliet was by going to a party held by Juliet’s family, the first example of fate bringing them closer.

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Him going to this party was not planned due to a servant not knowing how to read english when delivering invitations. The servant helplessly asks Romeo, “God ‘i’ good e’en. I pray, sir, can you read?” (I.i.58). The servant not understanding how to read is an example of fate. Romeo’s intentions in going to this party are to see the girl he was most in love with Rosaline. But once he sees Juliet he falls head over heels and completely forgets about Rosaline.

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If the servant had not been illiterate and delivered the invitations correctly, then Romeo would not have seen that Rosaline was attending the party and he would not have met Juliet.

To continue, along with Romeo not being invited to the party, if he had not caused Tybalt and Mercutio to brawl then he would not have been exiled. From the beginning of the play, Tybalt has an urge to challenge Romeo in a duel. Tybalt says angrily, “I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall. Now seeming sweet, convert to bitterest gall. (I.v.90-91). The quote foreshadows that Tybalt has unfinished business with Romeo. Once Tybalt challenges Romeo, Mercutio gets involved and it leads to his death. Instead of Romeo mourning his death he quickly turns to kill Tybalt without thinking about the consequences. These consequences are his exile. On top of this battle, if Capulet had not forced his daughter Juliet to marry Paris then she would not have faked her death. These events are elements of fate because if Mercutio did not fight Tybalt back, then neither of them would have died and if Capulet did not force Juliet to marry Paris then she would not have faked her death.

Furthermore, on top of the several events leading up to this point of the story, the death of both Romeo and Juliet sprouted from one single character: Friar John. He is sent by Friar Lawrence to deliver a message to Romeo. The message is that Juliet is faking her death, but due to a plague breaking out, he is unable to deliver the important message. Friar John says anxiously “Where the infectious pestilence did reign/Sealed up the doors and would not let us forth/

So that my speed to Mantua there was stayed” (V.i.10-12). Once Romeo hears that Juliet is “dead”, without thinking he returns to Verona and drinks a poisonous potion to die next to his wife. After Romeo dies, Friar Lawrence enters the cell just as when Juliet awoke from her slumber and later kill herself due to the horrid news of Romeo’s death. If the odds were not against Friar Lawrence then Friar John would have been able to deliver the message to Romeo and Romeo would not have killed himself. “No matter what the characters intend or wish to do, fate determines the lives all of the characters will lead” (777). The quote proves that no matter what the characters were planning to do was doom to fail due to fate choosing what they are destined to do.

It is evident that due to the events that had occurred, fate plays a prominent role in deciding what happens to characters and what happens in everyday human life. The several events that led up to the death of the “star-cross’d lovers” were the servant not understanding how to read and asking Romeo for help, Mercutio and Tybalt’s death, Capulet forcing Juliet to marry Paris, and lastly Friar John not being able to deliver the message of Juliet’s fake death to Romeo. Fate playing this major role proves that no matter what actions can be taken, nothing can alter what fate has destined to occur throughout everyone’s life. Although Romeo and Juliet believe that they were “star-crossed lovers”, fate had something else in store for them which was their deaths. Shakespeare’s utilization of fate proves that the leading characters’ deaths were destined to happen.

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Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. (2020, Nov 14). Retrieved from

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