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How far can Romeo and Juliet be blamed for their actions?

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How far are Romeo and Juliet victims of events beyond their control, and how far can they be said to be responsible for their own sufferings? William Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' is a romantic tragedy set in 16th Century Verona. The play features events involving the 'star cross'd lovers' and incorporates the key themes of love, hate and fate. It is commonly argued that the latter theme is evidently responsible for the lovers' suicides, however I am going to discuss how far this can be said. Although I believe it was fate that began their forbidden relationship, the responsibility to end it was in their own hands, and as they did not, the characters can also accept some of the blame. The play opens with a sonnet introducing the three main themes, and also informing the audience of how the plot would unfold. Romeo came from the 'Montague' family, and Juliet from the 'Capuluet', two houses involved in a long-term feud. "A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life ;" Shakespeare's use of 'star cross'd lovers' portrays how the characters are opposed by, and will fight fate. The word 'star' could also represent this theme, as the word is a connotation of destiny such as in the phrase 'it's written in the stars'. ...read more.


The fact that Romeo and Juliet knew what their relationship could potentially lead to didn't stop them, and they made the choice to continue it. Furthermore, this greatly contradicts that their death was a result of fate, because your destiny is said to be something uncontrollable, However when you make a choice, you are initially deciding how the future will plan out. Nonetheless, there are two tolerant characters in the play that influence their choices. The first is Friar Laurence, who can be interpreted as Romeo's father figure. He encourages their relationship, believing it to solve the family feud. "Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied, And vice sometime's by action dignified." The philosophical belief of the Friar is that evil can transform to good by the right action. In this case, Romeo and Juliet's love will end the hate between the Montagues and Capulets, again evidence of a Love Vs Hate theme. Shakespeare has used a rhyming couplet to show the significance of the phrase, perhaps hinting to the end of the play. This is because the lovers' deaths do eventually release the feud between the families, indicating that they are the "right" action. ...read more.


The hate already existing only commenced the chain of events leading up to their suicide, putting their families in the blame. It was this hate that killed their love, but their love that came out strongest and consequently destroying the original hate. It is also interesting to examine the lovers' beliefs. "O, I am Fortune's fool." These words, spoken by Romeo's character shortly after killing Tybalt sum up their view. He has blamed the entire series of negative events on fate and refuses to accept any responsibility, even blaming Tybalt's death on fate. He believes he is at war with fortune, and that it continuously plays around with him and his emotions. "A greater power than we can contradict Hath thwarted our intents :" Shakespeare states that whatever the characters intended, fate has already ruined. The key factors of the play that lead up to the 'star cross'd' lovers' deaths can be placed in a 'responsibility pyramid'; with fate being the main cause, the Nurse and the Friar contributing but also Romeo and Juliet. Nonetheless, the choices that they made were what caused the run of tragic events, however without fate, the lovers would never have encountered the suffering they did. Therefore Romeo and Juliet were victims of events beyond their control, but also contributed themselves. Alice Westlake Romeo and Juliet ...read more.

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