Fate and Free Will in Romeo and Juliet

Topics: Romeo and Juliet, Characters in Romeo and Juliet, Romeo Montague Pages: 4 (1553 words) Published: September 20, 2012

It might seem at first glance that the role of fate in the play is crucial to its outcome. Certainly many of the characters blame fate/destiny for what happens to them, and the language of the play does at times encourage the audience to view the events as dominated by fate. Romeo for example describes himself as 'fortune's fool', and the prologue seems to follow his judgement in its pronunciation of the couple as 'a pair of star cross'd lovers'. The play is full of ominous lines which take various forms. Firstly, there is the kind of comment by the speaker that all is not well, such as in Act 1, Scene 4 when Romeo and Mercutio discuss Romeo's dream in which he has had a premonition that the 'night's revels' shall somehow end in his 'untimely death'. Secondly, there are many generalised comments which serve to suggest that all will not turn out for the best, such as Friar Lawrence's warnings to Romeo that 'they stumble that run fast' (II, 3), and that, with reference to Romeo's overpowering passion for Juliet, 'these violent delights have violent ends' (II,6). Thirdly, Shakespeare's use of dramatic irony tends to suggest that events are outside human control, for example, the regularity with which Romeo and Juliet's love is seen in terms of death and pain, which keeps the tragic outcome of the play constantly before us. Finally, since the play has no obvious villain, we tend to be pushed towards the view that the tragic outcome is therefore more down to misfortune. However, Shakespeare's depiction of the events as they unfold is not as straightforward at it first seems, and on closer inspection there is much to challenge the view that it is 'fate' which is the main director of events.

It could be argued firstly that it is not 'fate' that, firstly means that Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love, and, secondly means in turn that their love is 'destined' not to come to fruition, since we are made aware of...
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