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Destiny, Chance & Fortune in Romeo and Juliet

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Introduction

The ideas of destiny, chance and fortune are very strong in the play Romeo and Juliet. Discuss how Shakespeare has employed these by making reference to the play. The drama of Romeo and Juliet is a tragic, love story themed play by William Shakespeare. Set in Verona, Italy during the Renaissance, the story traces the self destructive path of two 'star crossed' young lovers, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. Romeo and Juliet are young teenagers who fall deeply in love but whose families are bitter enemies. Yet, regardless of the feud between their families, they marry in secret. Despite making every effort to conceal their actions, the story ends in tragedy with Romeo and Juliet killing themselves and ironically, the feuding families reconciling. There is an underlying theme in the play that deeper forces are at work and that fate is causing the tragedy. It is fate that steers Romeo and Juliet to the tragedy of their deaths. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare also uses fate to affect the attitudes of characters throughout the play. The characters themselves believe that their lives are controlled by destiny and luck with Romeo and Juliet being prime examples of this. When Romeo and his friends journey to the Capulet's ball in Act 1, Scene 4, Romeo hesitates to go because he had experienced a bad dream. "Romeo Some consequences, yet hanging in the stars, Shall bitterly begin his fearful date... But he that hath the steerage of my course..." (A1 S4 106 -111) Juliet also believes in the power of fate and appeals to fortune when Romeo is banished to Mantua in Act 3, Scene 5. "Juliet O fortune, fortune! All men call thee fickle... That is renowned for faith? Be fickle, fortune, ... But send him back." (A3 S5 60 - 64) Romeo not only acknowledges the power of the stars, which tell what fate has in store through astrology, but he also believes that his destiny is to die. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the opening of the play, Shakespeare introduces the idea of fate through the reference to the stars, when describing the relationship of Romeo and Juliet. "Chorus A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life..." (Prologue 6) This type of image is referring to the concept of fate as stars were commonly associated with fate and destiny during Elizabethan times. The lovers were doomed from birth because of the positioning of the planets at that time. Throughout the play, Romeo and Juliet's lives are governed and ended by the fate which brought them together and ignited their love. Fate was interwoven into the play at various levels. It had manifested itself through a series of unfortunate circumstances and coincidences. Shakespeare cleverly used imagery of stars and planets together with a style of figurative language to highlight the themes of fate and chance. Romeo and Juliet were doomed because their beliefs that fate was controlling their every move, ultimately cost them their lives. These aspects would seem to indicate that the power of fate over humanity is unbreakable, and even the power of love cannot overcome it. ...read more.

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