Romeo and Juliet: Who is Responsible for the Tragedy? Does Fate play a role?
Who is responsible? This question is always asked of any conflict, and usually no one wants to admit that it was his or her fault. It then must be determined what the conflict was, who is responsible, and to what extent. Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet, is based on a conflict. In Romeo and Juliet the conflict turns into a tragedy. Now that we know what the conflict was, which is a tragedy, the next step is to determine what a tragedy is? A tragedy is a conflict that ends up with something very sad happening. In Romeo and Juliet, the tragedy, is that both of these lovers kill themselves, to join the other in death. “For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo” (5,3,309-310). The next step in the problem solving process is to assess who is to blame for the tragedy. To do this we must first determine the different types of roles played in a conflict. There are 5 main roles; there is cause, an instigator, retaliator, passivist, and moderator.
The first is the cause, which can be a person or thing, that starts everything, and sometimes people don’t even realize that they are playing this part. In Romeo and Juliet, one of the causes is the ancient feud between the families. Tybalt says “What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues and thee.” (1.1.61-62)
The second is the instigator, who is usually very mean, and something that they do or say, is usually the cause of conflict. What this person does or says is meant to provoke someone. Tybalt says to Romeo “Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford No better term than this: thou art a villain.”(3.1.53,54). These words are designed to provoke Romeo to fight.
The third role, is that of the retaliator, who responds to the provocative nature of the instigator. Mercutio says to Tybalt “Consort? What, dost thou make us minstrels? And thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords. Here’s my fiddlestick, here’s that shall make you dance”(3.1.40-43) in retaliation to a verbal jab made by Tybalt.
The fourth is the passivist, who does nothing to hinder or help in the conflict. Usually someone who hasn’t decided who is right and hasn’t picked a side.
The fifth is the moderator, who is trying to prevent or stop the conflict from happening. Benvolio is trying to prevent a fight when he says “I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire: The day is hot, the Capels are abroad, An if we meet we shall not escape a brawl, For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.”
Now that we have determined the roles played in a conflict, it makes the next step, of determining who is responsible, and to what extent easier. Shakespeare wrote this tragedy with a lot of complexity to it. I know this because each of the people involved play more than one role throughout the play.
First the Ancient Grudge, is a cause of fighting between the families. It has played a major role in the development of hatred in some of the people, for instance, Tybalt has picked up a hatred for the Montagues, from his Uncle Old Capulet. This Ancient Grudge has caused two brawls previous to the one we see at the start of the play. Prince says “Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word, By thee, old Capulet, and Montague, Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets.”(1.1.81-83) By this speech we learn of the nature of the ancient grudge. I believe that the ancient grudge is to be blamed for quite a bit of the tragedy, seeing as none of the fighting would have happened if there was no grudge, and Romeo would have been allowed to marry Juliet, without the secrecy.
Second Tybalt is to be blamed for most of the tragedy, because he started the first fight on the street. He also started the fight on the beach. He killed Mercutio, which caused Romeo to retaliate and kill him. Throughout the play Tybalt is always the...