Shakespeare has used fate as a powerful force in Romeo and Juliet. Fate has also played a major role in other Shakespeare tragedies and playwrights, such as Macbeth, where “weird sister” means “the sister of fate”, Julius Caesar and The Winter’s Tale.Throughout the play, the reader is being questioned whether the events taking place are being controlled by the characters or by fate.We are firstly introduced to the acts of fate when a servant who cannot read happens to ask Romeo for help in reading aloud the list of guests attending Capulet’s party, and in return, invites Romeo to go.Servant: Now I’ll tell you without asking..
.I pray come and crush a cup of wine. Rest you merry.If Romeo and Benvolio hadn’t been wandering the streets at the same time as an illiterate servant, the chance of considering attending the party would be much lesser.We come across a double act of fate when Romeo has accepted the invitation to the feast, but still has doubts about attending as he has had dreams that as a result of this party, an unsettling incident is destined to occur, but has not yet been revealed.Romeo: I fear, too early, for my mind misgivesSome consequence, yet hanging in the starsShall bitterly begin his fearful dateWith this night’s revelsHowever, owing to fate, he decides to go the Capulet’s house, despite his intense qualms. When Romeo says “But He that hath the steerage of my course, direct my sail. On, lusty gentlemen,” it is as if by allowing Him to make his decisions, destiny is taking control.
This takes us to the party, where Romeo encounters his first exchange of love with Juliet. On this same night, we come across fate yet again – as Juliet coincidently happens to be on her balcony at the same time as Romeo is on the garden below, expressing his love for her beauty.Romeo: (He sees Juliet) But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
The next apparent act of fate is when Romeo explains his love for Juliet and asks Friar Lawrence to marry them. Although the Friar thinks that this may not be true love, he believes that this may end the feud between the two households.Friar Lawrence: In one respect I’ll thy assistant be,For this alliance may so happy proveTo turn your households’ rancour to pure love.We are then brought to the streets of Verona, where Benvolio is persuading Mercutio to abandon the area as the Capulets are about and it’s best to avoid them. However, because Mercutio’s passion to fight, when he finds his chance to undertake Tybalt, he provokes it without any hesitation.
We encounter fate in this scene when Romeo tries to stop the fight, but his attempts to calm things down only resulted in the accidental death of Mercutio. Romeo is mortified and pursues Tybalt in anger of what he done. He takes the life of Tybalt to take vengeance of his friend’s death, as well as compensate his reputation. When Romeo says “O, I am fortune’s fool,” he is expressing his misfortune, and how he is like a household fool, kept by Fate for its enjoyment.We next refer to the theme of fate when Juliet has arrived at the Friar’s cell – to find Paris discussing the wedding plans for his engagement to Juliet.Juliet: That may be, sir, when I may be a wife.Paris: That “may be” must be, love, on Thursday next.
Juliet: What must be shall be.Friar: That’s a certain text.We know as readers that when Juliet makes the statement: “What must be shall be”, she is actually referring to her engagement to Romeo. And then when the Friar goes on to say: “That’s a certain text”, we know that fate will now step in and take its hand.
The blindness of young love is another theme that plays a major role in Romeo and Juliet. We first encounter Romeo’s obsessive love for Rosaline, where he describes his situation with the words: “Why, such is love’s transgression,” meaning that this is the kind of sin that is committed in the name of love. As readers, we already know that because of Romeo’s obstinate behaviour in this scene, his love for Rosaline is not true, but that he is just simply infatuated. When Benvolio continually tries to persuade Romeo that there may be other attractive women at the feast, Romeo stubbornly persists that no one can be better than Rosaline:Benvolio: Tut, man, one fire burns out another’s burning,One pain is lessened by another’s anguish….
..Go thither, and with unattained eyeCompare her face with some that I shall show..
.Romeo …One fairer than my love? The all seeing sunNe’er saw her match since first the world begun.The next time we come across the acts of this theme is at the party, where Romeo and Juliet share their first exchange of love.
The sonnet they share help show their feelings and reactions towards love, which they regard as serious as a religion. This can be shown by all the words and phrases refer to religion in the passage:Romeo: …This holy shrine, the gentle sin is thisMy lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand..
.Juliet: Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.Romeo: O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do:They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.The way Romeo feels about love can be very well be interpreted by the way he speaks of it and his behaviour towards it. This shows the reader the type of person Romeo is, compared to others, for example, Mercutio. We come across the relation of young love when Mercutio is pretending to summon Romeo, and teases him about his failed love for Rosaline and his new love for Juliet:Mercutio: If love be blind, love cannot hit the markNow he will sit under a medlar tree,And wish his mistress were that kind of fruitThis contrasts quite significantly to the language Romeo uses towards Juliet inside the Capulet’s garden. The words and phrases he uses reflect and reveal the way he feels, or thinks he feels about love.Romeo: I take thee at thy wordCall me but “love” and I’ll be new baptizedHenceforth I will never be Romeo.
We are then given images of Juliet’s feelings for Romeo and the love she has for him. Each illustration is expressing her reflection of love, allowing the reader to feel the power of her emotions:Juliet: O swear not by th’ inconstant moon…
Too like the lightening, which doth cease to be…My bounty is as boundless as the seaMy love as deep; the more I give to theeWhen Romeo explains to the Friar that he has fallen in love with Juliet, and wishes to marry her -and although the Friar agrees to help, he accuses Romeo of being blind towards the acts of love.
He tries to draw the line between ‘loving’ and ‘doting’, and the fact that this love can be like his failed love for Rosaline:Friar: Young men’s love then liesNot truly in their hearts, but in their eyes……For doting, not for loving, pupil mineIn the prologue, when the chorus is introducing the tale of Romeo and Juliet, they mention how the story ends with the deaths of the two star-crossed lovers. This is where the acts of fate and young love link together to put forward another main theme.
The first time we encounter a remark made by Romeo relating to the theme of star-crossed lovers is when he says: “O, I am fortune’s fool.” He is saying that he is like a household fool, being held by Fate for its enjoyment. This links to when he has been banished and recalls the flattering truth of sleep. However, the irony he encounters is that everything he has dreamt is true – but resulted in a disastrous way.
He starts to believe strongly that fate is taking over once and for all when he makes the remark:Romeo: Is it e’en so? Then I defy you, stars?When the Friar warns Romeo about his blindness towards this love, we are again coming across the theme of star-crossed lovers. It is the Friar’s advice that is ironic, when he makes statements such as: “These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die like fire and powder…Therefore, love moderately; long love doth so…”