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Who or what is to blame for the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

WHO OR WHAT IS TO BLAME FOR THE TRAGEDY OF ROMEO AND JULIET? William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", is a tale of two "star-cross'd lovers" whose passionate love for each other is ill-fated and constantly thwarted because of the enmity between their families. The play incorporates the themes of love, fate, conflict, power and time, and also addresses the duty of the church, the state and parental duty. The audience is conscious, from the outset of the play, that this 'two hours' traffic' will end in tragedy. There are a number of contributing factors to this ensuing tragedy, such as the feud between the two families, Friar Lawrence, fate and Romeo and Juliet's impetuosity. Any one or more of these factors can be seen as the cause for these tragic events. It also could've been the irresponsibility of the characters that caused it. The love of Romeo and Juliet is set in a context of hate. The 'ancient grudge', highlighted by the prologue is perceptible in the opening scenes of the play. The prologue underlines its significance. "From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean." (Prologue, lines 3-4) The prologue prepares us for the tragedies that such enmity can cause, and makes the audience aware of the expected tragedies. The feud affects not just their immediate families, but their friends and servants as well. The street brawl that is witnessed in the first act and scene demonstrates how hatred pervades all aspects of Verona life. The animosity between the two households forces Romeo and Juliet to keep their love a secret. It becomes very difficult for the two lovers to maintain the secrecy of their love when a number of disastrous events begin to arise. Tybalt, a close relative of Juliet's, challenges Romeo to a fight and it results in Tybalt killing Mercutio, and Romeo killing Tybalt. ...read more.

Middle

Juliet is under immense pressure due to this decision. Romeo himself blames fate on hearing of Juliet's "death". "then I defy you, stars!" (5.1.24) This suggests that fate has done the cruellest thing that it could to Romeo, and therefore Romeo challenges fate to do any more to him. He knows that Juliet's death is the worst scenario possible for him, and believes there is not a single thing that fate could do to make him to make things worse. It is due to fate that Friar John is held up in the city of sick and is unable to deliver the letter to Romeo telling of Friar Lawrence's plan. This is a big turning point in the play. Had Friar John been able to deliver the letter to Romeo in time, Romeo would have known that Juliet was not really dead, and that it was all part of the plan, and he could have met her at the Capulet's vault and taken her away to Mantua. As he thought that Juliet was really dead, he decided to kill himself. At the conclusion of the play, Friar Lawrence himself believes his plans have been 'thwarted' by 'fate' and there is nothing that could have been done to prevent what has happened. "A greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our intents." (5.3.153-154) He realises that fate has always been in control of his plans and he or anybody else couldn't have done a single thing to prevent the tragedy. Both Romeo and Juliet blame fate for their death. Fate finally does manage to part the two lovers in life, but ultimately they are united in death. It is the pressure of time that gives fatal momentum to the events. Juliet's marriage with Paris is brought forward a day by Lord Capulet. The Friar's letter to Romeo is not delivered. Balthasar brings news of Juliet's "death". The Friar is just half an hour late in his arrival at the tomb to prevent the tragedy. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although he advises Romeo not to rush into things, he himself seems quickly convinced that the marriage is a good idea. His plans weren't bad plans, but they were a little over-ambitious. He didn't think things through properly. In the penultimate scene, Friar Lawrence sent Friar John to deliver a very important letter to Romeo. This letter had to be delivered urgently, and yet Friar Lawrence still sent an irresponsible person to deliver it. If the Friar had wanted, he could have even sent two messengers, and then one of the two messengers definitely would have delivered the letter. As this letter was not delivered, Romeo thought Juliet was really dead, and killed himself, which led to Juliet killing herself. Really, it was this plan of the Friar's that went wrong and caused the tragedy. Ultimately, it is his plans that go wrong and contribute, if not cause the tragic conclusion. In the final act, the Friar leaves Juliet alone in the tomb, isolated and frightened. He is afraid and flees leaving a vulnerable girl alone with the dead body of her husband. He may well have been able to prevent Juliet's death had he insisted on her leaving. As Romeo's confidante, he should have realised the position of responsibility he was in and acted accordingly. However, it is significant that the Prince does not entirely blame the Friar, suggesting "we still have known thee for a holy man." The Friar's actions were prompted by good intentions, but it was still his fault for not earlier recognising the role of fate and the responsibility he had if the plans went wrong. - - - - - In conclusion, it could be said that no one person was to blame. Indeed, it could be conjectured that it was not a person as such, but an attitude - or attitudes. Selfishness, arrogance, disobedience, intransigence, and impetuosity all feature strongly and contribute to the tragedy. That these attitudes are displayed variously by the characters is less important than the attitudes themselves. These are the real culprits. ?? ?? ?? ?? Amit Patel- 11SJ ...read more.

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