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Is Romeo and Juliet a tragedy of fate or of character?

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Introduction

Is Romeo and Juliet a tragedy of fate or of character? The tragedy Romeo and Juliet is about two 'star-crossed' lovers from rival families. As the two families, the Capulet's and the Montague's, hatred for each other grows, Romeo and Juliet's love for each other turns into a very dramatically passionate and lustful love. This causes the couple to make radical decisions leading to the suicidal ending. Some critics argue that Romeo and Juliet is not a true tragedy. They suggest that the play is a variation of a form of drama called 'Tragedy of Fate' which was popular during the early Elizabethan period. But is fate the only cause of the inevitable ending? Although some reasons that Romeo and Juliet die are out of their control, fate is not the largest reason that the lovers end up dying. For example, when Romeo hears of Juliet's death, before it is brought to light that it is a false death. Romeo rushes to her side to murder himself so he may lie with Juliet. "Well, Juliet, I will lye with thee tonight". The choice for Romeo to end his life is his alone; no one else is responsible for his decision. And in the rescue plan we know that things will go wrong and we think the potion may well be the cause of that. In fact, the plan will go wrong for a far simpler reason: lack of communication. ...read more.

Middle

Many though, would argue that it wasn't Romeo's fault for killing Tybalt. Romeo is drawn into the fight much against his will. The basic instinct, the desire of a man to avoid being thought a coward, and Romeo's new found angered revenge prevails and he is driven to fight Tybalt. Another source of omens in the play is the presaging of dreams. Romeo has a dream, "I dreamt my lady came and found me dead." Also before the Capulet party Romeo senses that something bad will come of this night. "I fear, too early, for my mind misgives some consequence, yet hanging in the stars shall bitterly begin his fearful date with this night's revels and expire the term of a despised life, closed in my breast, by some vile forfeit of untimely death." At the Capulet party, the only reason that Romeo and his friends get in is because the guard is illiterate and Romeo happens to be in the right place at the right time to help the guard but making sure that his friends and him were allowed into the party. By being lucky to get into the party, Romeo ignores his dream of unfortunate death and enjoys the night's gathering. In this play we see two miraculous changes in Romeo, from the love sick naive boy to the direct and humorous man. His good humour is apparent after the secret wedding when he joins his friends in the streets of Verona. ...read more.

Conclusion

Ignorant of Juliet's marital status, Lord Capulet agrees to Paris' request for the hand of his daughter and plans a wedding for Juliet and Paris. Juliet defies fate and drinks a "magic" potion in order to avoid the fateful marriage. "Come, vial. What if this mixture do not work at all? Shall I be married then tomorrow morning? No, no! This shall forbid it. Lie thou there. (She lays down a dagger)." Friar Lawrence attempts to send a message to Romeo about the "apparent death" of Juliet, but, due to fate, Friar John could not leave Verona because of the plague and left such an important an urgent message in the hands of a messenger. "I could not send it - here it is again - Nor get a messenger to bring it thee, So fearful were they of infection." Romeo happens to hear about Juliet's death from his servant Balthasar and decides he must join Juliet's fate in eternity. When he enters the tomb, he notices the scarlet of Juliet's cheek, signalling that she is soon to awake from her trance. He mistakes the colour as the beauty of her being shining through to defy death. "Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, And deaths pail flag is not advanced there." If only he had arrived five minutes later, Juliet would have been awake and the two deaths would have been avoided and the two love struck souls united. Clearly, fate controls the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. By Joe Fellows ...read more.

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