In Elizabethan times the people of Britain were deeply religious and superstitious.

In his plays, Shakespeare uses the effect of superstition to great effect to create a dynamic mixture of emotion throughout his audiences. Shakespeare uses the fact that many Elizabethan superstitions were associated with death to great affect in many of his plays. For example, if a mirror was to fall and break in an ordinary Elizabethan household, it meant that someone in that household would soon become a victim of the grave.Another superstition is that if a corpse was being removed from a house, then it must be carried out feet first as if it were to be carried out head first then it could look back and beckon other to follow it into death. As well as being superstitious, the Elizabethans also believed deeply in fate, that God or higher powers were controlling their footsteps. They believed that the stars were the key to their destiny with the ability to make lives end in triumph or disaster.

In his plays, Shakespeare takes advantage of these beliefs to capture the imagination of the audience and make the plays much more interesting, full of twists and turns.In the play that we will be studying, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare fully exploits these ideas where two 'star crossed lovers' are victims of fate. A prologue is at the start of the play when an actor reads the outline of the play to increase the effect of the play. Shakespeare uses a prologue in Romeo and Juliet in connection with fate.

It is designed to tell the audience what is going to happen in the play and they will know from the very beginning that it is going to be a tragedy. He uses the theatrical convention for dramatic effect.The prologue in Romeo and Juliet starts by displaying many variations of fate. An example of this is one of the first lines as it says, "A pair of star crossed lovers to take their life. " This is saying that even from birth Romeo and Juliet are puppets of fate, doomed to a death along side each other. They are lovers controlled only by the stars and destiny.

Throughout the prologue we encounter numerous references to the fate of Romeo and Juliet. The main idea is that the two lovers are destined for a fatal end. Their "passage of life" is controlled and as soon as they are loved they are destined to die.Their "Misadventured" hopes are tangled in the strings of fate and they will not be able to love each other without perishing.

Also another example is, "Which, but their childrens end could not remove. " This shows that the war between the two families can only be ended by the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. They are destined to die and these quotes from the prologue declare that whatever happens, Romeo and Juliet's lives are destined to end in disaster. Romeos speech in Act 1 Scene 4 relates to fate in a number of different ways.He predicts his future and explains to the audience why he should go to the party for fear that in some way it could become the end. His premonition begins as he says, "I fear too early, for my mind misgives, some consequence yet hanging in the stars.

" These lines are showing the troubled thought that are circling in Romeo's mind, that a risk or forfeit may be taken if he goes ahead and goes to the party. He senses a bad omen coming from the stars, which in Elizabethan times, was believed to be a higher power, able to control the paths of people, fate and destiny.In his mind he is predicting his own fate as his brain is telling him not to go to the party. He believes that the stars are giving him a vital clue into his future through his mind. He believes when he says, "Shall bitterly begin his fearful date .

.. of a disposed life closed in my breast, But some vile forfeit of untimely death," that by going to this party he will be swapping his freedom and his life. He believes that he will have to mortgage his life in return for love. His heart is telling him that the party is to be his fate and that the party is a date with death.

His brain and heart are both warning of the dangers of going but fate has paved its path out, with Romeo a victim. Romeo also says, "But he that hath the steerage of my course, Direct my suit. " Romeo says this knowing that he is a victim of fate and he is asking for guidance from the stars and God. His path is written in the stars and the events of the party will lead to him being asked to repay his debts that he so widely fears with his freedom, his life and his love. However, despite these warnings Romeo decides to go to the party.

It is in this section of the play that Romeo first meets Juliet.He is instantly struck by her beauty and wants to know who she is. However, before he speaks to her a string of consequences happen which means that he stays at the party and continues to want to know who Juliet is. The first example of these coincidences, which is fate allowing Romeo to meet Juliet, is when Romeo first sees Juliet. He asks a nearby servant who she is to which the servant replies, "I know not sir. " This can be argued that the path of fate is acting which is allowing Romeo to meet Juliet.

A servant will know the name of a person whom they will see on a daily basis.Juliet is also the daughter of their servant's master which means that the servant is bound to know who she is. However, in this case the servant answers that he doesn't know who she is. Fate is acting here so that Romeo does meet Juliet. Had the servant answered that Juliet was a Capulet then Romeo probably would never had followed her meaning that they would never have met and ultimately Romeo and Juliet would never had met their fate. Another one of these coincidences is when Tybalt recognizes Romeo to be a Montague.

He complains to Capulet that his sworn enemy is in his party.However, Capulet responds surprisingly by saying, "let him alone. " By saying this, Romeo is allowed to stay at the party and meet Juliet. However, this is very unrealistic as the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets is becoming more violent with murders and other dramatic crimes taking place between them. The path of fate is acting here as in reality, Romeo would never be allowed to stay at the party. Capulet uses the excuse that he does not want to upset his guests and allows Romeo to stay at the party.

When Capulet says this he has paved the way for Romeo to go on and meet Juliet.However, Tybalt is persistent and continues to complain about Romeo's presence. By using the technique that Tybalt is arguing, Shakespeare hides the fact that Capulet is responding in a surprising way. Tybalt says, "Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe; A villain that is hither come in spite, To scorn at our solemnity this night.

" Tybalt is using powerful, negative words to describe Romeo to try and convince Capulet to kick Romeo out of the party. However, Capulet responds cheerfully saying, "Young Romeo is it? " Once again the path of fate has stopped Capulet from removing Romeo from the party.To add more emphasis onto this, Shakespeare makes Tybalt try and convince his uncle once again. He responds, "Tis he, that villain Romeo.

" Again, however, Capulet responds by saying, "He shall be endured. " Fate is an important factor here as it describes why Capulet responded in that way; to allow Romeo to meet Juliet. Capulet is letting his sworn enemy into his house, his party and letting him eat his food and drink his wine. Fate is controlling Capulet and he describes Romeo as a well mannered person from a good family. This would not happen normally but destiny is there which is making it happen.

Another important factor to consider when looking at the role of fate in Romeo and Juliet is when Romeo and Juliet first meet. This happens near the end of Act 1 Scene 5 after Romeo has passed the coincidences that allowed him to stay at the party. When Romeo first sees Juliet, he is stunned by her beauty. It is the path of fate that they must be together and he wants to talk to her. During their first conversation, Shakespeare gives a number of clues as to what is going to happen in the play.

This is through the characters speech enforcing that fate is destined to happen. As Romeo goes up to Juliet he says, This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this, My two lips blushing pilgrims ready to stand, To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss. " He uses the metaphor holy shrine as he is saying to Juliet that he is the person he has been looking for. He has been searching or for her and he has finally found what he was destined for.

They were destined to be together and she is the lover which Romeo has spent his life searching for. Also, this quote shows that fate has pulled them together and they have fallen in love. Fate has overpowered to the extent that he falls in love without knowing who Juliet is or where she comes from.Romeo also describes Juliet as," Dear saint," and, "Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear. " He is describing her as too beautiful or godly for this earth.

She is a saint in his eyes and a power too great to belong to this world. This gives a clear indication that Juliet is unearthly and too great for this planet. This can be interpreted as fate as it shows that Juliet will not remain on this planet for much longer and that she will no longer be a being on this planet. Another key scene that we must examine when looking at the role of fate in Romeo and Juliet is Act 3 Scene 5.

In previous scenes, Romeo has killed Tybalt and has been banished from the city by the princes. He goes to visit Juliet one last time before he leaves. As Romeo is leaving Juliet has a very important premonition, "Either my eyesight fails, or thou lookest pale, As one dead in the bottom of a tomb. " Juliet is seeing Romeo dead in a tomb showing that the forces of fate and destiny are acting here showing her the path of life. Romeo must die in the play and Juliet is beginning to realise that.

In this section of the play, Romeo is very pale.Another Elizabethan superstition was that pale people had less blood and were associated with death. This premonition that Romeo is to die is anther way of telling that this play is going to be a tragedy. Furthermore, in this scene, Juliet has another premonition about her own death. Later on, when Romeo has left and he parents have forced her to marry Paris, she says, "Make my bridal bed, In that dim monument where Tybalt lies.

" This can be linked to Act 1 Scene 5 as she says, "My grave is like to be my wedding bed. " This saying can be interpreted as I'll die if I can't marry Romeo. She is preferring to die than to be without Romeo.However, this can also mean that Juliet feels that she will die on her wedding day.

We know that this is true and Shakespeare is giving the audience another peek into what is too come. Act 5 Scene 3 is another crucial scene intertwined with fate. This is a very important scene in which Romeo and Juliet both meet their predicted fate. The first reference to fate is through a dream in line 79.

Romeo says, "He told me Paris should have married Juliet. Said he not so? Or did I dream it so? " Romeo is unsure and doesn't know if someone told him that Juliet was to marry Paris or if he dreamt it.However, throughout the whole play no one tells him that Paris was supposed to marry Juliet. This shows that the force of fate has drawn them together as Romeo had a dream which told him that Juliet and Paris should have been together.

In Elizabethan times, dreams were believed to predict the future showing that Juliet was to marry Paris. However, fate intervened and ultimately leads to all of their deaths. This can be connected to another dream which Romeo reveals in Act 5 Scene 1. He says, "I dreamt my lady came and found me dead. " By saying this he fears that he will be the victim of fate.

Furthermore, when Romeo kills Paris, Romeo reacts with no passion as he believes there is a book of fate with his name in it meaning he will become a victim of fate. It is the "Sour misfortunes book. " Romeo and Juliet's names are both written in this book. Paris was a person who was trying to stop fate by marrying Juliet but fate has once again prevailed as he was slain. Romeo and Juliet are Shakespeare's puppets just as we are puppets of a greater power, fate.

Another point is that we have already seen in the play that is linked to fate is the kiss between Romeo and Juliet. This first happened in Act 1 Scene 5 and again in Act 5 Scene 3.He describes her as untouched, too pure and beautiful for this world. This gives us an indication that Juliet will soon die and be removed from this planet. He is struck by her beauty.

He swears that he will stay by her side forever and then he drinks the poison. He will never leave her side and not even fate can pull them apart even though it has destroyed their lives. However, before he dies Romeo confirms our suspicion that he knew along that fate was controlling their paths. He says, "And shake the yolk of inauspicious stars.

" This is related to "star crossed lovers" as in Elizabethan times, stars were believed to control destiny.He realises that fate has played a part in her death and he is angry at fate. He is angry at the centre of the stars and that is what he means by yolk. He is passing a sin or curse onto her. He says, "thyst from my lips my sin is purged.

" It is argued that he has passed a kiss onto her and then in this scene, when he kisses her again, he takes it back from her. "Thus with a kiss I die. " He has taken the curse back from her in the tomb and then he kills himself. Lastly, In Act 5 Scene 3 where Friar Lawrence is talking, a greater force is speaking through him. "A greater power than we can contradict, Hath thwarted our intents.

Come, come away. Thy husband in thy bosom there lies dead. " He is the voice of God, describing to Juliet before she dies what has happened to Romeo and herself and fate has changed what they want to do. The meddling has stopped what should have happened.

A greater power is at play. In conclusion, fate has a large role in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. He has played on the thoughts of the nation and at the same time forces us as an audience to question the power of fate and how we as people play any part in our destinies. Shakespeare uses Romeo and Juliet as puppets to explore this idea.