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Romeo & Juliet - An exploration of the ways Shakespeare sustains our interest in the play particularly with the use of the theme of fate, (despite revealing the ending in the plays prologue).

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Introduction

Romeo & Juliet by Rosie Wild L6.7 An exploration of the ways Shakespeare sustains our interest in the play particularly with the use of the theme of fate, (despite revealing the ending in the plays prologue). Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' is set in Verona in the1500's and unlike most plays of the period as well as most modern plays, it reveals the ending in the prologue. The prologue is situated in the play before the opening scene in act 1, and contains some vital and interesting facts about the play. We learn about the feud between the two families and also the most crucial aspect we learn is that the 'star-crossed' lovers are doomed from the start, and that their love ultimately ends in the death of both teenagers. Shakespeare himself was very cautious of death. Shakespeare wrote his own epitaph because during his time, when the graveyard was full, people would dig up someone's corpse and burn it so that another could be buried in that person's place. This disgusted Shakespeare, and he didn't want this type of disrespect after his death. To this day no one has disturbed Shakespeare's grave. Ironically, tombs and burials are very significant in Romeo and Juliet, as Juliet fakes death and then Romeo dies in her family's tomb which is frequently opened when a member of the family dies. There was not as much privacy around the subject of death as Shakespeare felt there should be, hence his fears about his own grave ever being tampered with. The concept of fate functions as a central theme in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In the opening prologue of the play, the Chorus informs the audience that Romeo and Juliet are "Star cross'd Lovers". In other words, the Chorus states that Romeo and Juliet are governed by fate, a force often linked to the movements of the stars. Fate manifests itself in all the events surrounding the young lovers: the ancient and inexplicable feud between their families, the catastrophic series of mishaps which ruin Friar Lawrence's plans, and the tragic timing of Romeo's suicide and Juliet's awakening. ...read more.

Middle

The reference to light will have struck the audience as to notice the change in the time of day, but this time, he views Juliet in terms of light, 'she doth teaches the torches to burn bright'. We feel here his true passion for her love as his language burns with intensity. We feel now that we are in no doubt listening to a man whose love is profound and real and the poetry here draws us further in to the romance. Using the theme of time, Shakespeare often purposefully darts from topic to topic in this play in order to keep us waiting for our area of interest to be brought up again. Romeo and Juliet propose their marriage but there is a scene between this and the wedding which adds to our suspense and interest to watch on. Yet the soft lull of love is soon struck by an ominous note when Romeo says 'Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!' We now remember the nurse's words about her own daughter- "she was too good for me". We also draw a link to Juliet's father's words to Paris in Act 1, Scene 2, when he says "Earth hath swallowed all my hopes but her". Immediately a reference to the prologue will have been drawn interesting the audiences as they realise that there is no escaping the binding of fate which Romeo and Juliet have been tied to since the prologue. The audience is brought back to reality by the family feud, which Tybalt wastes no opportunity in telling Capulet about. However, much to the audience's surprise, Capulet lets it go. We wonder whether this is fate that Romeo did not get ousted from the party before his meeting with Juliet, as the feud between both families is strong enough to engage servants in the street, but not strong enough to make the master of the Capulet household confront a Montague child, though we must remember, further violence between the families ...read more.

Conclusion

When friar Lawrence arrives, he confirms the death of Romeo before Juliet wakes and he asks 'what lamentable hour is guilty of this lamentable chance?' Chance it was, as were a lot of things throughout the play. Though we knew the ending we were never to know that they would die like this, in such unfortunate circumstances, that they were to die for each other, that their love was so strong, and that fate had a huge hand in everything which happened. Juliet even refers to the poison as being 'friendly' if it would kill her to be with him. The audience feels her pain, but there is one more question which we watch on to find the answer to- the family feud being buried. Friar Lawrence sums up the events for the family, and the audience, to make sure we have a clear picture and the Prince has been introduced again by Shakespeare to help keep the anger at bay. Capulet initiates the apologies 'O brother Montague give me thy hand'. He has lost his daughter, 'his life' and Montague has lost his son and his wife through heartbreak. All this happened because of the family feud, but we cannot help but ask ourselves, would Romeo and Juliet have ever met, endured such a passionate and whirlwind romance if the two families were not enemies initially? Is it indeed fate which has made the audience read on, along with love, time, contrasts, poetry and of course the race and the death? Would have fate intervened in the same way if the houses had not been enemies, and would they have ever met... I think not. Romeo and Juliet is a very clever and complex play, the main characters ruled by fate from the start but with many peaks and falls on the way, their passion ends in tragedy, for themselves, the nurse, the friar and both houses. (3,400 words) ...read more.

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