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The concept of fate - Romeo and Juliet

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Introduction

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" (Prologue l.6). 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. The structure of the play itself rests upon the fate from which the two lovers cannot escape. The play opens with a brawl which erupts between servants of the Montague and Capulet families. This initial quarrel illustrates that the "ancient Grudge" between the two families runs so deep that it extends to the servants (Prologue l. 3). Upon their first encounter, Romeo and Juliet remain ignorant to the fact that they are the children of feuding families. Actually, the lovers meet by coincidence. Romeo agrees to attend the Capulet ball because he hopes to see Rosaline, and he consistently claims that no other woman can impress him. On the other hand, Juliet attends the ball to meet Count Paris and to see if she can love him. Before entering the ball, Romeo experiences a sense of dread. He declares, "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 clos'd in my Breast / By some vile Forfeit of untimely Death" (I, iv, ll.106-110). During the evening, Romeo encounters Juliet, and the two become enamored with each other. Upon Romeo's departure, Juliet murmurs to herself, "If he be married, / My Grave is like to be my Wedding Bed" (I, iv, ll. ...read more.

Middle

Montague. There shall no figure at such rate beset As that of true and faithful Juliet. Capulet. As rich shall Romeo's by his lady lie- Poor sacrifices of our enmity! (V, iii, 302-304) In this exchange of apologies and forgiveness we see that both fathers are ready to put everything behind and honor each others child, for being messengers of love driven by fate to stop the cycle of hatred. That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love. (v, iii, 293) The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is fate driven. All the events that happen in the play lead to one major event, for which the play is said to be tragic, in which for most part fate plays a large role. Both destined lovers realize their love cannot be pure and simple, and that no matter what they do, it will be tragic. The two families, who's strife can only be stopped by the predetermined love of their offspring, seize the hatred between them. Fate is the power that is supposed to settle ahead of time how things will happen. Romeo and Juliet lives were ruled by fate. Even though they thought they should be together fate had different plans for both of them. Fate did not rule in their favour. A large part of the beliefs for both Romeo and Juliet involved fate. They believed in the stars, and that their actions weren't always their own. Romeo, for example, 1.4.107-113 says, "Some consequence yet hanging in the stars...by some vile forfeit of untimely death. But he that hath the steerage over my course Direct my sail." He's basically saying to his friends that he had a dream, which leads him to believe that he will die young because of something in the stars, something that will happen. He ends with "...he that hath steerage over my course..." which implies that he does not have control over his life if he looks to another power above himself to direct him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Fate causes Count Paris to become interested in Juliet just at the time of her marriage to Romeo. Not knowing about 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. Friar Lawrence attempts to send a message to Romeo about the "apparent death" of Juliet, but, due to fate, the messenger cannot leave Verona because of the plague. 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, signaling that she is soon to awake from her trance. He mistakes the color as the beauty of her being shining through to defy death. If he had arrived five minutes later, Juliet would have been awake and the two deaths would have been avoided. Clearly, fate controls the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Another source of omen in the play is the presaging of dreams. Romeo has a dream, " I dreamt my lady came and found me dead." The servants of the two houses carry the feud to the street and fight. Romeo, unwillingly is drawn into the fight, by the death of Mercutio, at the hands of Tybalt. When Romeo kills Tybalt, the Prince exiles him. All this happens soon after his marriage to Juliet, and then misfortunes fall on the lovers. Fate intervenes again when Romeo is in exile. The Friar's letter to Romeo, informing about his plan gets delayed. Friar John, the messenger, is detained in a house suspected of 'infectious pestilence' and the authorities sealed up the door. Romeo hears of Juliet's death through Balthasar and rushes to her vault with the vial of poison to kill himself. Juliet awakens from her trance after Romeo drinks the poison and dies by his side. If she had awakened a little earlier, the tragedy would not have happened. This is a tragedy of fate rather than of character or action ...read more.

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