It seemed to be the makings of a perfect love story. Two mortal enemies, foes by birth, fall in love unbeknownst of each other’s identities, and manage to keep that love even after the shocking discovery. Afterwards, they fall even deeper for one another, and engage in secret assignations, risking as far as to get married. However, their love was not to be. This was explained even before the beginning of the actual story in the prologue. They are separated from each other, and the girl gets betrothed to another by her parents. To avoid this impending marriage, the girl takes a potion that gives her the likeness of death. A message is sent to her lover to apprise him of this turning of events, who is in a nearby city. The message is unable to reach its destination, and so the lover hears word of her death and is heartbroken. He then goes to her tomb where she is laid to rest and kills himself. A little while after his death, she wakes up to find him in her arms, and stricken with grief she stabs herself. Romeo and Juliet, the lovers featured in this story, would not have met their untimely death for a multitude of reasons. These reasons make up the answer to ultimately, who, or what, was to blame in this hapless tale. Who is to blame? What could have caused this sad series of unfortunate events? In the end, there is only one answer. It was the lovers’ own inability to take control of their lives which stemmed from their youth and inexperience, that led to the coda of this sad, sad contemplation, which is shown in many situations.
The lovers’ inability to take control of their lives, to fight for their love is shown in each of the pair. Juliet’s inefficacy to stand up for their love is revealed when her mother offers to hire a man to kill Romeo, because Juliet is putting the cause of all her griefs on Tybalt’s death, when in fact it is only a part of her sorrow. In actuality, she is also sad because she is not with her beloved Romeo. When her mother, the Lady Capulet offers to have Romeo killed, Juliet does not tell her mother that Romeo is her husband or that she loves him, but instead dances around the subject while making it seem like she hates Romeo:
Indeed, I never shall be satisfied
With Romeo, till I behold him—dead—
Is my poor heart for a kinsman vexed.
Madam, if you could find out but a man
To bear a poison, I would temper it,
That Romeo should, upon receipt thereof,
Soon sleep in quiet. Oh, how my heart abhors
To hear him named, and cannot come to him.
To wreak the love I bore my cousin
Upon his body that slaughtered him!
Another situation which reveals Juliet’s youth and inexperience, or in other words her helplessness to take control of her life is shown during and after her fight with her father, when she refuses to marry the county, Paris, but does not state the reasons why, and passes it off as her grief for her dead cousin Tybalt:
Is there no pity sitting in the clouds
That sees into the bottom of my grief?—
O sweet my mother, cast me not away!
Delay this marriage for a month, a week.
Or, if you do not, make the bridal bed
In that dim monument where Tybalt lies.
Romeo’s youth and inexperience is shown when he is challenged by Tybalt, as he seems to be unable to predict what would happen. Tybalt insults Romeo’s honor, but Romeo refuses to fight Tybalt because they are related by Romeo’s marriage to Juliet. Romeo’s friend, Mercutio is unaware of this turn of events, as is Tybalt and so goad each other in the hopes of a fight. Mercutio then steps in to avenge the slight because Romeo refuses not to. Romeo tries to stop this fight by speaking to Tybalt that he loves him although not explaining the reason why:
Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee
Doth much excuse the appertaining rage
To such a greeting. Villain am I none.
Therefore, farewell. I see thou know’st me not.
Tybalt and Mercutio fight, ending with a fatal stab in the breast of Mercutio who soon expires afterwards. All this time, as Mercutio, Tybalt, and Romeo argue with each other, Romeo is unable to tell the single tidbit of information that could have slowed down events, which is that he is now related to Tybalt. In these times where honor is valued highly, it would have probably worked to some extent to prevent this violence as the friar had predicted before.
Juliet, by making it seem that she hates Romeo, adds another obstacle on their course to be together. Romeo too, with his silence, sealed their fate. All throughout this story, Romeo and Juliet have many chances to speak of their love for each other. The author of this book, William Shakespeare gives the impression to the reader that there may be some hope left with the unveiling of the friar’s plan. Everything seems to be going in order, but something goes wrong, and the lovers end up dead. Shakespeare, with this, may be a bit of a sadistic sort of writer who likes to have his readers fall in love with the characters and then kills them off to sadden the readers. This may be the case according to the interpretation of others, but it seems to be more of a warning. This can be a warning of what can happen if you give your desires free reign, they can consume you. It can also warn of what happens if you don’t find the courage to speak up for what you think is right, or in this case, Romeo or Juliet speaking up for the other.
Throughout the entire play, there were many chances for Romeo and Juliet each to speak out to their family or friends about their love and marriage. They could have run away together to Mantua, or anyplace else for that matter, at any time. They could have gone to the Prince for help, or told their parents straight out. They could have lied and told the parents that Juliet was pregnant, because if there’s a kid on the way it gets even harder for them to be broken apart. There were so many ways which they could have taken that could have helped them avoid the death that was the end of their story, but their youth and inexperience in the end was what hampered them the most. Their youth and inexperience led them to take the path of secret dalliances, a secret marriage, and lastly, a complicated plan involving death. Their youth and inexperience helped to create this melodramatic story that we have today, of a pair of lovers who could give up their lives for each other but not the courage to speak out for each other. As the age-old adage goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and led by their youth and inexperience, they took the wrong way. Citations:
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Prentice Hall Literature, Language and Literacy. New Jersey: Pearson, 2010. 807-930.