Bibliography Critical essay - Michelle McNally?
Do you agree that Romeo and Juliet are star-crossed lovers; that is to say victims of fate or do they contribute to their own demise?
Two households, both alike in dignity. In fair Verona, where we lay our scene. Form ancient grudge break new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From fourth the fatal lions of these two foes. A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life. Whos misadventure piteous overthrows. Doth with their death bury their parents strife. The fearful passage of their death marked love. And the continuance of their parents rage. Which but their childrens end naught could remove
One of the oldest and most debated questions of all time is whether our lives are governed by fate or by our personal choice. A definition of fate would be a power which is believe to settle ahead of time how things will happen. William Shakespeare, in Romeo and Juliet, brings this question to the surface. Although fate seems to control what happens to Romeo and Juliet their choices contribute more to their "fate" than fate itself. Although some reasons that Romeo and Juliet die are out of their control, fate is not the largest reason that the lovers end up dying. For example, when Romeo hears of Juliet's death before it is brought to light that it is a false death. Romeo heard of his love's death and rushed to her side to murder himself so he may lye with Juliet.
Well, Juliet, I will lye with thee tonight. (Act 5 Scene 1 Line 34)
The choice for Romeo to end his life is his alone; no one else is responsible for his decision. The unfortunate circumstance that stops the Friar's assistant from delivering his message also aids the death of the lover's but does not produce their deaths. Romeo acts immaturely in the play, as he never considers the consequences of his actions.
If Romeo had not killed Tybalt, Juliet's cousin then he would never have been banished. Romeo angry and acting how he always does without thinking kills Tybalt. Tybalt being Juliet's cousin will cause great strain on the relationship of them both. Romeo may have had a chance of being accepted into Juliet's home before he killed Tybalt, but certainly not after.
Also, Juliet could have explained to her family about her marriage to Romeo, accepted the consequences and then there would be no need for the "fateful" message. She could have also ended their relationship before it started.
My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early see unknown, and known too late! prodigious birth of love to me that i must love a thoathed enemy (Act 1 Scene 5 Line 138)
This should have been were Juliet realised what may come of their actions.
Still, fate or circumstances above their control do play a large role in determining the fate of the two young lovers. It seems like Romeo and Juliet has the curse of bad luck throughout this story. Fate seems to cause Mercucio to be killed by Tybalt under Romeo's arm just after Romeo has married Juliet.
A plague a both houses, I am sped (Act 3 Scene 1 Line 90)
Mercucio says this as he is dying. It is like a curse as from this point there nothing but tragedy. Has Mercucio brought them such fate or was this their destiny from the start. The feud is so relevant in this play as each time love is mentioned the feud is also. This causes Romeo to want to take vengeance for Mercucio death and Romeo then slays Tybalt. Hence, Romeo is forced to leave Verona or die and therefore one more circumstance out of their control contributes to their deaths. This situation is put on Romeo without his consent. Romeo and the choice whether or not to avenge Mercucio's murder. Tybalt does not attack Romeo. Romeo goes after Tybalt with the intent to kill him. To take it a step further, Romeo could stay in Verona and face the wake of his actions.
Many times Shakespeare refers to "fate" as being the reason that they died. When the prologue uses the phrase "Star-crossed lovers this indicates William Shakespeare's thoughts on what kills Romeo and Juliet. This tells the audience that Romeo and Juliet are destined for trouble. Romeo saying
O, I am fortunes fool (Act 3 Scene 1 Line 138)
After he kills Tybalt further emphasizes the point. Romeo kills Tybalt yet he tries to blame fortune instead of blaming himself. He says that fortune tricked him and he fell for it.
The unlucky manage of this fatal brawl (Act 3 Scene 1 Line 143)
spoken by the Benvolio after he hears about the death of Tybalt confirms that Shakespeare feels that luck is what determines what happens. The fact that they were from feuding families that hated each other and they still continued their relationship. Yet, Shakespeare doesn't tell about the poor judgement that the two young teenagers use. He tries to make it seem that they had no choice in the matter. What really plays the biggest part in their death is not fate but the decisions of the two adolescents. Many choices contributed to the end of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo's choice to go to the Capulet party where he met Juliet was one example. Romeo even suspected that there would be consequences of the party, yet he ignored his feelings.
I fear, too early. For my mind misgives some consequences, yet hanging in the stars, Shall bitterly begun this fearful date with this night reveals and expire the term of a despised life, close in my breast, by some vile forfeit of untimely death.
Romeo at this point in the play is very immature this could be what is responsible for his actions. It is shown in his language. He never gets to the point. This language is called hyperbolic.
Love is a smoke made with fume if sighs; being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers eyes; Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers tears. (Act 1 Scene 1 Line 190).
Romeo does change in his speech as the play goes on, this is to show he is genuine about his love for Juliet.
Then plainly know my hearts dear love is set on the fair daughter of rich Capulet. As mine on hers, so hers on mine. (Act 2 Scene 3 Line 53).
Romeo knows that his family and Juliet's family hates each other. Still, he goes to their party fully knowing what might happen. Furthermore, Romeo chose to seek after Juliet and to continue to see her even after he realises she is enemy. He could have just left and not have returned to her house and gone to her balcony. By making this choice he sets up all the problems that occur later. Even if the later events happen by chance and it seem as if fate was the reason that they died, their choices put them in that position. Although, Romeo pursued Juliet he isn't the only reason that they die. Juliet's choices play a large part in deciding their end. Juliet also becomes immature and inconsiderate here she does not consider the consequences of her actions Shakespeare uses colour symbolism and binary oppositions to show Juliet's change. Romeo woos Juliet but Juliet could have resisted. When he sends for her to marry him, she can decide not to go. They also could be honest and tell their parents. The parents might not like it but at least Romeo and Juliet wouldn't die. When Juliet chooses to drink the potion and not go with Romeo and leave Verona she makes a way for chance to come into play. She could have left and lived with Romeo, but she didn't and therefore suffered for it. She could have ensured that Romeo knew about the plan before she went ahead with it. Many elements of chance or fate and choice together decided the outcome of this story of two star-crossed lovers.
Yes, things out of their control helped to kill them but they made the decision to pursue each other and leave the opening for those things to happen. So, was it choice or fate? I believe that personal choice is the real nemesis.