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In the Shakespearean play Romeo and Juliet; besides love and revenge,
fate is one of the main themes in the play. The whole play revolves
around the concept of fate, and Shakespeare makes his audience quite
aware of this on the prologue at the start of the play.
Fate is an uncontrollable power or thought that is said to make things
happen, fate is destiny. It is predestination where everything in and
around your life is set out for you. Some people believe in fate, that
there is a higher power that, that someone controls everything we do,
that we have no free will. People who believe in fate believe that
their life is pre-destined and set in the stars even before you are
born. However other people do not believe in fate and say that
everything you do is your own choice, and if you try hard enough you
can make your own future.
In this play Shakespeare plays God, he controls everything does in the
play. From what people do and say, to where they go and even how and
when they die. By playing the role of God he is omniscient, he makes
the audience aware of this. By doing this he creates dramatic irony,
where the audience knows what is going to happen before the characters
do. Shakespeare does this so the audience know just enough, not all
the details, otherwise there would be no need to watch the play.
The prologue practically sums up the story in a few lines. One of the
most important lines in the prologue is “A pair of star cross’d
lovers.” This means that fate is written in the stars, that two people
will fall in love. Also adding “Take their life.” Onto the end means
that the stars are crossed against them and that their life/lives will
end in a fatality. The line “Death mark’d love” also tells us that
their love is already marked by death.
In act 1, scene 2 fate first enters the play.
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Romeo to read an invitation to a Capulet party. Romeo reads the
invitation and sees that Rosaline is going to be there. “My fair niece
Rosaline.” Romeo thinks he is in love with Rosaline but Benvolio tells
Romeo to go to the party so he can compare Rosaline to other women
there, so Romeo can see that she’s not that pretty after all.
By Benvolio making Romeo go to the party and seeing Rolsaline with his
own eyes, he would not have seen Juliet and instantly forgotten about
Rosaline, because he has fallen so in love with Juliet. Without
knowing it by Benvolio making Romeo go to the party is leading Romeo
to his inevitable death. Juliet has also forgotten about meeting her
supposed “love” Paris.
Fate is really obvious in this scene because if Romeo hadn’t been in
the square at that particular time, if the Capulet servant hadn’t
asked Romeo to read the invitation and Benvolio hadn’t told Romeo to
go to the party, Romeo wouldn’t have met Juliet.
Before Romeo goes to the party he makes a speech saying “some
consequences yet hanging in the stars and also by some vile forfeit of
untimely death.” This means there will be a consequence of going to
the party- someone death. He feels that by going to the party it will
be the start of something bad. This is a literal devise called
foreshadowing, where someone knows what will happen but they just
don’t know when or where.
Fate reappears at the Capulet party. When he gets there and he sees
Juliet and Juliet Romeo they both instantly fall in love. “Did my
heart love till now, for I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”
Romeo no longer has any thought for Rosaline, whom he thought he
loved, and has rejected for Juliet. Fate has made them fall in love so
quickly. However Romeo and Juliet are part of conflicting families,
Romeo’s a Montague and Juliet’s a Capulet. Fate makes Romeo and Juliet
oblivious of the fact that they are from contradicting families, which
is why they fall in love so quickly. If they knew that they were from
opposing families then the outcome of love would have been the total
opposite. When Juliet does find out she says, “My only love is my only
hate, too early seen unknown and know too late.” The only person
Juliet hates is the only person she loves, but she can’t do anything
about it because she is so in love with Romeo.
At the party Romeo expresses his feelings for Juliet. Unfortunately
Tybalt (a Capulet) overhears Romeo and says, “This by his voice should
be a Montague.” Tybalt swears to kill Romeo at the party, but another
Capulet stops him instead he swears to kill him at a later date. Again
fate intervenes Tybalt could have killed Romeo there and then but he
didn’t. At this stage in the play no matter how small or big anything
that someone does or says may lead to more daunting and devastating
When Tybalt comes to find his assailant (Romeo). Romeo has already
married his concubine therefore making Tybalt Romeos cousin. Tybalt
wants to fight Romeo but Romeo doesn’t want to fight Tybalt because
Romeo classes him as family. Mercutio steps in for in for as he is
embarrassed for his friend, he says “O calm, dishonourable, vile
submission.” Whilst Tybalt is a master swords man Mercutio is only a
master of wit, so the odds on mercutio winning the fight are doubtful.
However it could have ended with smiles because it was only a play
fight. But again fate arbitrates; Romeo stands between Tybalt and
Mercutio and Mercutio doesn’t see Tybalt thrust his arm under Romeo’s
and into his chest.
If Mercutio had not being killed then Romeo wouldn’t have gone
hysterical at Tybalt and said “either tho or I, or both must go with
him!” meaning someone will have to pay for the loss of Mercutios death
even if that’s himself.
At this point in the play Romeo realises that fate is controlling what
he does by saying “This day’s black fate.” Romeo challenges Tybalt
because of this, he feels that someone or something else is
controlling his body.
The surprised expression Romeo has when he relises he has beaten
Tybalt is because Romeo never should have beaten Tybalt Because Tybalt
was the better swordsman, and it also proves that fate was controlling
Romeo. Romeo did not expect to win which shows that he put his life in