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In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, who was responsible for the tragic deaths of the young lovers?

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Introduction

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, who was responsible for the tragic deaths of the young lovers? In writing Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare has created a play involving the complex entanglement of all of the citizens of Verona in the tragic demise that befell the young lovers. The appeal of the play is Shakespeare's masterful stagecraft, because the audience are told of the tragic ending at the beginning of the play, but want to know how they are driven to their deaths. By involving everyone, the audience is left guessing until the end. Even characters that feature very briefly or seem insignificant have important roles - one example is Friar John, the messenger who was to take the letter detailing Friar Lawrence's plot to Romeo, but who was held back by the threat of plague. His inability to get to Mantua meant that Romeo believed that Juliet was dead, and subsequently took his own life. Another example is Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, whose rage against Romeo resulted in the deaths of himself and Mercutio. In an attempt to avenge his best friends death, Romeo killed Tybalt and found himself banished to Mantua. The Nurse also had an extremely important role in the tragedy. She acted as a go-between for the two lovers and helped the marriage between them take place. If the two had not been so hastily married, and also if others had not intervened, perhaps they would not have had the problems they did. ...read more.

Middle

It is fair to say that Romeo and Juliet had substantial roles in their own demise. Firstly, Romeo was fickle and should not have rushed into marriage considering his history with women. He was "in love" with Rosaline at the beginning of the play, and moved onto Juliet following his rejection. Another reason is that Romeo killed Tybalt, which in turn was the reason that he was banished to Mantua. If he had considered the consequences and refrained from violence, this would not have happened. He acted in haste when he killed himself, thinking that Juliet was dead, saying, "O true apothecary, the drugs are quick, thus with a kiss I die". If he had had the benefit of hindsight, he would have realised that it was not wise to take his own life. Juliet also played a part by manipulating the Friar into marrying her and Romeo. Another main influence on the tragedy was Capulet. When Juliet stood up to him and refused to marry Paris he called her "baggage" and "tallow-face", and ordered her to "get to the church o' Thursday or never after look me in the face". Juliet may have got the impression from this sentence that her father did not love her nor have respect for her and so she would not be missed if she ran away with Romeo. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the time, people were extremely religious and believed that the alignment of the stars had relevance to the events in their lives. There was an extreme sense of foreboding around the time of Mercutio's and Tybalt's deaths. "A plague o' both your houses" were the words uttered by Mercutio after he was slain, perhaps influencing the fate of the houses of Montague and Capulet. Romeo then said, "This day's black fate on moe days doth depend: this but begins the woe others must end". It was as if Romeo was predicting his own fate. A sense of foreboding was lent to the play by the dreams of the characters. Juliet had a dream in which she envisioned Romeo dead: "O God, I have an ill-divining soul! Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb. Either my eyesight fails or thou look'st pale". Then, later on, Romeo had the same dream - "I dreamt my lady came and found me dead. Strange dream that gives a dead man leave to think!" Ultimately, I believe that fate was the biggest influence of the lovers' deaths, because this play was written for a 16th century audience who would have deeply held superstition. They believed that the patterns of the stars dictated events that happened in their lives, hence the term "star-crossed lovers". Romeo and Juliet could never be together because it was written in the stars that they would never be happy. Zo� Molyneux 116 ...read more.

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