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In plays, as in real life, individuals’ actions can change the course of events in theirs, as well as, other individuals’ lives. In both Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, the lovers were forced to take their own lives or be killed because of fate and the actions of others.
In Romeo and Juliet, one character who is partly responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet is Tybalt. Tybalt enrages Remeo and causes him to kill Tybalt. In Romeo and Juliet, this brings about Romeo’s exile from Verona. If Romeo had not been exiled from Verona, he would have heard of Friar Lawrence’s plan to keep Juliet from getting married. If he had known of the plan, he would not have gone to the vault and killed himself over what he thought was Juliet’s dead body.
In West Side Story, a character with a role similar to Tybalt is Bernardo. In West Side Story, the killing of Bernardo enrages Chino to the point where he takes out a gun and searches for Tony. While trying to protect Tony from Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend, they cause her to become extremely upset and to say that Maria is dead. Upon hearing this, Tony leaves the drug store in search of Chino. When Tony eventually finds Maria, Chino kills him. None of this would have happened, had Bernardo not gotten into a fight with Tony and been killed.
Another character who is responsible for the deaths of the lovers in Romeo and Juliet is Lord Capulet. Knowing that her father would disagree with her being married to Romeo, a Montague, Romeo and Juliet were forced to keep their love a secret. In the beginning of the play, Lord Capulet tells Paris that Juliet is still to young to woo and that he should wait two years. However, later in the play, he tells Paris that Juliet will be married to him in two days. After hearing that she will be wed in two days, Juliet goes to Friar Lawrence asking for help. If Lord Capulet did not force Juliet to marry Paris, she would not have had to fake her death. The plan that Friar Lawrence devised to prevent the wedding led to death of Romeo and Juliet.
An additional character in West Side Story that is partly responsible for Tony’s death is Officer Krupke.
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Although Romeo and Juliet, and Tony and Maria were partly responsible for their deaths, the majority of the blame can be put on the minor characters in both plays as well as fate. This fate is alluded at in the prologue of Romeo and Juliet when they are described as “a pair of star crossed lovers” and throughout both plays.