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Romeo and Juliet

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet coursework Examine the role of fate in Romeo and Juliet. In Elizabethan times the people of Britain were deeply religious and superstitious. In his plays, Shakespeare uses the effect of superstition to great effect to create a dynamic mixture of emotion throughout his audiences. Shakespeare uses the fact that many Elizabethan superstitions were associated with death to great affect in many of his plays. For example, if a mirror was to fall and break in an ordinary Elizabethan household, it meant that someone in that household would soon become a victim of the grave. Another superstition is that if a corpse was being removed from a house, then it must be carried out feet first as if it were to be carried out head first then it could look back and beckon other to follow it into death. As well as being superstitious, the Elizabethans also believed deeply in fate, that God or higher powers were controlling their footsteps. They believed that the stars were the key to their destiny with the ability to make lives end in triumph or disaster. In his plays, Shakespeare takes advantage of these beliefs to capture the imagination of the audience and make the plays much more interesting, full of twists and turns. In the play that we will be studying, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare fully exploits these ideas where two 'star crossed lovers' are victims of fate. A prologue is at the start of the play when an actor reads the outline of the play to increase the effect of the play. ...read more.

Middle

However, Tybalt is persistent and continues to complain about Romeo's presence. By using the technique that Tybalt is arguing, Shakespeare hides the fact that Capulet is responding in a surprising way. Tybalt says, "Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe; A villain that is hither come in spite, To scorn at our solemnity this night." Tybalt is using powerful, negative words to describe Romeo to try and convince Capulet to kick Romeo out of the party. However, Capulet responds cheerfully saying, "Young Romeo is it?" Once again the path of fate has stopped Capulet from removing Romeo from the party. To add more emphasis onto this, Shakespeare makes Tybalt try and convince his uncle once again. He responds, "Tis he, that villain Romeo." Again, however, Capulet responds by saying, "He shall be endured." Fate is an important factor here as it describes why Capulet responded in that way; to allow Romeo to meet Juliet. Capulet is letting his sworn enemy into his house, his party and letting him eat his food and drink his wine. Fate is controlling Capulet and he describes Romeo as a well mannered person from a good family. This would not happen normally but destiny is there which is making it happen. Another important factor to consider when looking at the role of fate in Romeo and Juliet is when Romeo and Juliet first meet. This happens near the end of Act 1 Scene 5 after Romeo has passed the coincidences that allowed him to stay at the party. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, before he dies Romeo confirms our suspicion that he knew along that fate was controlling their paths. He says, "And shake the yolk of inauspicious stars." This is related to "star crossed lovers" as in Elizabethan times, stars were believed to control destiny. He realises that fate has played a part in her death and he is angry at fate. He is angry at the centre of the stars and that is what he means by yolk. He is passing a sin or curse onto her. He says, "thyst from my lips my sin is purged." It is argued that he has passed a kiss onto her and then in this scene, when he kisses her again, he takes it back from her. "Thus with a kiss I die." He has taken the curse back from her in the tomb and then he kills himself. Lastly, In Act 5 Scene 3 where Friar Lawrence is talking, a greater force is speaking through him. "A greater power than we can contradict, Hath thwarted our intents. Come, come away. Thy husband in thy bosom there lies dead." He is the voice of God, describing to Juliet before she dies what has happened to Romeo and herself and fate has changed what they want to do. The meddling has stopped what should have happened. A greater power is at play. In conclusion, fate has a large role in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. He has played on the thoughts of the nation and at the same time forces us as an audience to question the power of fate and how we as people play any part in our destinies. Shakespeare uses Romeo and Juliet as puppets to explore this idea. ...read more.

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