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Romeo and Juliet - Was the tragedy brought by an overwhelming fate, or did individuals bring it upon themselves?

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Romeo and Juliet by Michael Horwood Was the tragedy brought by an overwhelming fate, or did individuals bring it upon themselves? Romeo and Juliet was written by William Shakespeare at a time when fate was believed to control everything, and the position of the stars at the moment of one's birth foretold the path of someone's life. In the play, and throughout, nearly all the characters blame fate for the misfortunes that lead to the eventual tragedy. I believe that a small amount of fate but also chance brings upon the deaths of both households, but also some of the characters contribute by the decisions they make, the feud they keep alight, and the quickness with which they act. Fate is mentioned by the chorus at the start of the play: 'A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life Whose misadventure'd piteous overthrows' Beginning with a reference to fate, then talking about the lover's actions, suggests that fate has a higher priority in the cause of the tragedy, rather then the individuals' actions. However, Shakespeare makes the characters acknowledge an overwhelming fate on stage. First we hear Romeo talking about it: Romeo 'Then I defy you stars' Romeo believes in fate, and is constantly referring to it. He uses the word 'deny', which is a strong word that shows his determination. ...read more.


She uses a simile, 'like the lightning' as one can only see lightning for a few seconds, and then it disappears. She then asks if his answer be yes or no by the next morning, which is impetuous. After Romeo is banished, her feelings make her ask Romeo to stay longer in her bed, despite the chance she might be caught which does show a very thoughtless side of Juliet. At the end of the play, she does not rush her death straight away when she wakes up. Although, I would not say she is a major contributor to the end tragedy. Tybalt defiantly has a very prominent effect on the outcome, as he is always very violent and wanting a fight: '...and talk of peace? I hate the word as I hate all Montagues' The oxymoron of peace and hate shows how angry and evil he is. His violent attitude is illustrated at the party, when he sees Romeo. Although it is a misunderstanding, he is told not to disturb the party, but comes after Romeo because he thinks he is interrupting it. Nevertheless when he does not find Romeo, but Benvolio and Mercutio, he talks very politely: 'Gentlemen, good e'en! A word with one of you' Here we see a new, politer side to Tybalt, as he does not have any problems with Benvolio or Mercutio. ...read more.


Moreover, a few scenes later, he tells Tybalt not to disrupt his party (when Tybalt wants to fight Romeo for intruding). However, in act three, he plays a larger part in the tragedy by arranging the marriage with Paris, and because of Juliet's refusal, and he consequently disowns her: Capulet: I tell thee what, get thee to church o' Thursday Or never after look me in the face Nurse: God in heaven bless her! You are to blame, my lord, to rate her so This is another large decision that adds to the tragedy. It leads Juliet to demand advice from the friar, who comes up with a desperate, rushed plan. It was typical for a father in Shakespeare's time to control their daughters, and to be angry if they disobeyed them. On the other hand, Shakespeare shows he is being too harsh on her, as both the nurse and his own wife asks him to calm down. In conclusion I would blame the majority of the tragedy on the individuals I have described, especially Capulet, Tybalt and the Nurse, who I think were very large contributors to the tragedy. Even the ruler of Verona, the prince blames the individuals, rather than fate. Perhaps it just depends what time period ones from: Elizabethan England, where the stars control destinies, or the modern day where we control our own. ...read more.

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