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To what extent are the deaths of Romeo and Juliet caused by them being 'star-cross'd lovers', and to what extent are they caused by the different characters own actions?

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Introduction

To what extent are the deaths of Romeo and Juliet caused by them being 'star-cross'd lovers', and to what extent are they caused by the different characters own actions? Romeo and Juliet was written in 1595 for an Elizabethan audience. It was set in Verona and Mantua in Italy. People of Shakespeare's time thought of Italy as immoral and famous for it sexual affairs and crime. The audience would have expected Romeo and Juliet to include affairs and violence but would still react shocked to the actions going on in the play, as even though it would be normal, because of the notorious rumours of Italy, the audience would be used to have a happy ending. When fate and inevitability are present in a storyline the audience feels pity for the characters and fear for what is going to happen. The deaths in the play Romeo and Juliet have many possible causes, although they both eventually kill themselves, Romeo and Juliet could have been influenced to do this by other characters or each other. It is constantly suggested that their deaths were determined by fate, so none of the other characters could have influenced this anyway. Or it could just be because of their bad luck. They are not the only characters killed in the play. Romeo and Juliet opens with a prologue, which sets the scene to the play and gives the audience their first impressions of the characters. ...read more.

Middle

When he first meets Juliet they talk in a poetic way and use huge amounts of religious imagery, repeating particular words such as "pilgrims", "saints" and "holy" which makes them and their love seem innocent, which is portrayed in the language they used, as Romeo says "My lips, two blushing pilgrims". When they talk to each other the speak in rhyme, making it seem artificial, but their first conversation is written as a sonnet. This poem structure is typically used for love poems and as they talk in that format the audience will think that they have really fallen in love. In the prologue for Romeo and Juliet the phrase "star cross'd lovers" is used to describe Romeo and Juliet. "Star cross'd lovers" means, in reference to Romeo and Juliet that they were destined to meet, fall head over heels in love, and eventually die. Star imagery is used throughout Romeo and Juliet, which supports the idea that Romeo and Juliet were victims of fate as stars are often connected with people's destiny such as horoscopes. The idea of fate and destiny is often used by many of the characters as a reason for the events that happen. This means that they believe that everything that ever happens is pre-destined so whatever the characters do to affect Romeo and Juliet such as the nurse corresponding between them even if she had not of done this, she believes according to fate, that Romeo and Juliet would still have died in the end. ...read more.

Conclusion

Juliet's nurse is more like her mother, as she has known and looked after her for all her life. The Nurse tells Romeo and Juliet about each other, and encourages them to marry in secret, even helping to arrange their wedding. She wants to see Juliet grown up, as her real daughter died. She tells Juliet that 'I have my wish' if 'I might live to see thee married once'. This might of influenced her to push forward with their wedding. The Friar Laurence agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet, although the reason he did this could be questioned. He could have done this more for his own gain than theirs. If the marriage had ended the feuding between the noble families, Friar Laurence would gain respect for it. There are many ideas about who is to blame for Romeo and Juliet's deaths. For hundreds of years, the true cause has been disputed. There are examples of evidence that the lovers are to blame for their own deaths. Their haste and passion have a lot of effect on the things that they do. Although other characters' actions influence their decisions, eventually I think that they do not to such a large extent as Romeo and Juliet's own actions. I believe that the most important events in the play are the Capulets' party and the final fight between the two houses. Without these events, the story would be very different. ...read more.

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