'I am Fortune's fool'. To what extent is Romeo a victim of fate?

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‘I am Fortune’s fool’. To what extent is Romeo a victim of fate?

        In the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’, which was written by William Shakespeare, fate plays a vital role as an amazing number of unlucky events happen to Romeo. By analysing the key themes, character dialogue and the structure of the play, I hope to find out to what extent Romeo is a victim of fate.

        In Shakespeare’s days, many Elizabethans had a strong belief that stars and star signs had a great impact on their destiny. The Elizabethans believed that fate existed in order to limit people’s ambitions and pride, and to maintain a sense of order in the world. Some people appear to be approaching a state of perfection; it is the role of fate to bring that individual down, to remind people that even the greatest human are below the ‘Gods’. Fate may be described as being envious or jealous of its own position. This was a very large part of the Elizabethan’s understanding of the universe that our lives were planned out before we were born. The major way of determining our destinies was by looking to the heavens. This relates to the play because ‘Romeo and Juliet’ are called ‘star cross’d lovers’ and also when Romeo hears of Juliet’s death he say’s ‘I defy you stars’, this is extremely foolish of him because he is defying what the heavens have planned for him.

        As a result of this he immediately goes, without even thinking, to buy some poison and commit suicide.

        Romeo and Juliet experience numerous misfortunate events in the play, beginning with their meeting at the Capulet’s ball where the moment Romeo sets eyes on Juliet he completely erases Rosaline from his mind and falls in love with Juliet. Their love for each other grows fast in a very short amount of time but their families have an ‘ancient grudge’ against each other so the love between them is forbidden. Their ‘ancient grudge’ has gone on for many years and now it’s broken out into ‘new mutiny’. As Romeo and Juliet’s love progresses they start meeting in secret, as they do in Act 2 Scene 6, where they meet at Friar Lawrence’s cell so they can be wedded. This then affects Romeo drastically as in the next scene, Act 3 Scene 1, Tybalt is furious with Romeo because he went to the Capulet’s party and wasn’t invited; therefore he want’s to fight. But now that Tybalt is Romeo’s cousin Romeo refuses to fight, because of this Mercutio get’s hurt and eventually killed. In the tragic ending Romeo doesn’t receive the friar’s letter. The friar’s letter was to tell Romeo that Juliet would pretend to be dead, but in reality she was only in a coma due to a potion she had taken. But the messenger is delayed and instead Romeo is told Juliet is dead. Due to this he buys poison and goes to the tomb where she lays and he drinks, just as he drinks it Juliet awakes and sees him dead so she stabs herself.

Romeo’s character in the play is very fascinating as in the preliminary scene he is negative and upset ‘ Ay me! Sad hours seem long.’ At the end of Act 1 Scene 1 where Romeo and Benvolio are talking, Romeo is upset as Rosaline does not feel the same way about Romeo as he does to her.’ Out of her favour where I am in love’. This is unusual for Romeo to be melancholy like this because in most of the play he is reasonably a happy person.

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 However in Act 1 Scene 5 when the Montague boys go to the Capulet ball, Romeo’s melancholy state totally changes. When he meets this 'beauty' Juliet and immediately falls in love with her ‘did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’ This is very fickle of Romeo as in one scene he is entirely taken with Rosaline and then in the next he erases her from his mind and falls for Juliet. This links to the tragic ending as once he falls in love with Juliet he will do ...

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