‘Romeo and Juliet’ is the perfect example of the term ‘love and loss’. It is a tragic tale where two young lovers are restricted from each other because of tensions between their families. Misfortune, chance and their love for each other, triggers events, which soon lead to their deaths. It is clear that the two lovers had killed themselves but we cannot say that it was entirely their faults. There are many factors, which play a big part in the events leading up to this tragic ending.
If we were to trace the events of the book all the way back, we would notice that one of the most obvious reasons for their deaths is the family feud between the Montagues and the Capulets. A very good example of a scene which shows this is where Tybalt and the other Capulets challenge the Montagues and Mercutio to a fight, simply because they didn’t like the idea of Romeo, a Montague showing up at a Capulet’s ball. Mercutio is killed in this scene, and Romeo enraged, avenges his friend by seeking and killing Tybalt. This leads up to his exile and finally to his death.
The feud also had very significant effects on the lovers themselves. This quote from Romeo, “Is she a Capulet, O’ dear account, my life is my foe’s debt”, and this from Juliet, “My only love has sprung from my only hate”, proves that they were quite upset and knew that trouble would surely come out of their love for each other. If the feud between the families had not existed, they would have been able to announce their love openly. They need not be afraid of anyone restricting them for each other thus avoiding many unnecessary incidents, such as Paris’ death.
If we take the matter further, we can see that a lot of the dreadful events leading up to the lovers’ deaths were plainly due to chance. This is even mentioned in the prologue, which states, “whose misadventured piteous overthrows”. We can see this in the beginning when Romeo and Benvolio just so happens to come across Peter, a Capulet servant. Peter, an illiterate asks them for help in reading an invitation card to the Capulet ball. Benvolio, seeing Romeo’s melancholy mood, grabs the chance and convinces Romeo to the ball. If Romeo hadn’t gone to the ball, he would have not met Juliet then and there would not have been any problems.
We can also class the death of Mercutio as an accident. When Tybalt and Mercutio start fighting, Romeo tries to stop them. His interference however is fatal for Mercutio who is stabbed by Tybalt’s blade. This quote from Romeo, “I thought all for the best,” shows that he had not meant in anyway for anything like that to happen. It was merely an accident but Romeo, angered and lost in his own thoughts, kills Tybalt anyway.
In contrast with this, we can also say that it was fate, and that the whole tragedy was already foretold in the stars. The story itself has made such a suggestion in the prologue, which describes Romeo and Juliet as ‘star- crossed lovers’. Fate and destiny has always been connected with the reading of stars and astrology. Perhaps it was the lovers’ fate to die and to mend the centuries old feud between the Montagues and Capulets.
As we progress through the story, we can see that some of the blame concerning Romeo and Juliet’s deaths can be rested upon the other characters in the story. An example is Capulet who forces Juliet into marrying Paris. Juliet is enraged with the arrangement by her father and goes into a desperate frenzy. Juliet, lost and quite scared, follows the friar’s plan without much considering of the possible consequences. Indirectly, Juliet’s father can be blamed for the death of the lovers.
Friar Lawrence also had quite a significant part in the whole fixation. He clearly plays a big part in the causes of Romeo’s and Juliet’s deaths. Although his motives were for good, as proven in this quote, “To turn your household’s rancor into pure love,” he still takes many unnecessary risks for in the process. The fact that he also tries to conceal himself from the public in each deed he does, shows that he was never quite sure of his motives. Friar Lawrence was responsible for marrying the two lovers secretly, which could have very well caused huge fights between the two houses. He takes this risk anyway, not thinking of probable consequences.
He is also responsible for devising the plan where Juliet was to take drug and pretend to be dead for 40 hours until her Romeo would come. The plan is very unstable as much of it depends on the letter being sent to Romeo in time. His plan simply backfires when he could not manage to send his letter. Romeo comes back, sees Juliet dead and kills himself. Juliet then wakes up and sees Romeo dead and kills herself too. Friar Lawrence’s folly clearly has a part in the causes of Romeo and Juliet’s deaths.
However, we must not avoid the fact that it was still Romeo’s and Juliet’s own folly that led them to their deaths. Other than the fact that they killed themselves, the two lovers have also proved to be quite spoilt in some ways throughout the story. Romeo’s one main tendency is that he always obsesses. We can see this in the way he talks of Rosaline. He talks of her as the sun and thinks that no one can be as beautiful as she can. There is also very little we know of her character except that she is beautiful because Romeo only cares about her physical appearances. This reflects on Romeo’s attitude towards women. He does the same to Juliet whom he had just met. This tendency to obsess clearly has a part to play in his decision to kill himself and to lie with Juliet even in death.
Although we have managed to place some of the blame of Tybalt’s death and Romeo’s exile on other reasons, we cannot use them as excuses for the fact that Romeo’s own faults. Romeo was a victim of his own lust for vengeance. He does not think of the possible consequences but instead tries to dismiss them and only realizes them at the last minute. He says this after he kills Tybalt, “O, I am fortune’s fool”. He realizes what he has done is also fatal for himself and regrets the killing.
Juliet acts a lot like a child throughout the story. This can be seen in the scene where she suddenly hates the nurse simply because she did not agree with her on not marrying Paris. She also cries in order to convince the Friar on helping her. This child- like behavior proves that she is irresponsible and that she does not care of the possible consequences but only on what is happening at that present time. She does not think twice and quickly demands the potion from the friar when offered to her, “Give me, give me; tell me not of fear.”
As already explained, many factors play a part in the events leading up to the main climax where the lovers die. It might not be entirely the fault of the lovers, but a lot of the blame should still lie on their shoulders. We cannot dismiss the fact that the one true killers are still the lovers themselves.