When reading through the play, responsibility for the deaths of the two lovers can be pointed at many of the characters, however it can nearly always be traced back to the problem with the “ancient grudge”. This “ancient grudge” is the cause for the family’s friction; it is an old argument, which happened years ago but has never been let down or forgotten. Most of the factors (about the deaths) can be said as “if this hadn’t happened this wouldn’t have happened.” I personally find responsible the “ancient grudge” and then all the characters branch of it one way or another. Those characters that play a part for the death of Romeo and Juliet either think too quickly and not think of the consequences or act before even considering thinking about it.Order now
Because of an “ancient grudge” two big families, the Montagues and the Capulets, are constantly at war with one another. Juliet belongs to the Capulet family and Romeo belongs to the Montague family. Whenever they meet on the street they cause a disturbance and try to be better than each other. They start off verbally but always seem to end up being violent. “From ancient grudge break through to new mutiny.” If there weren’t an ancient grudge there would not be any coldness between the families; they would get on well with each other and Juliet and Romeo could have met without being secret about it and their situation wouldn’t have resulted in death.
Montague never appears to be with his son (Romeo) and there is no father-son relationship but Montague does, however, realise that there is a distance between him and his son. “To himself so secret and so close, so far from sounding and discovery.” Romeo keeps his space from both his parents and tells them nothing, either because of his age or that is how parent and son relationships were like in those days. Lady Montague (like Montague) does worry about him but never has any heart-to-heart discussions, which could help. “O where is Romeo? Saw you him to-day? Right glad I am he was not at this fray.” She doesn’t want him caught up in the mess, which can mean she doesn’t approve of this quarrel and rather it was over.
If the Montagues pushed Romeo more into confronting them and confiding in them he might have been more comfortable telling them about Juliet which would have made it easier for the relationship. I can see it would be hard to tell his parents, considering Juliet is a Capulet, but all Romeo had to do was to be honest, speak of his true feelings for Juliet and bring it up delicately and subtly.
On the other hand Juliet’s parent push her too much and they don’t always want what’s best for her but what’s best to suit them. “Well, think of marriage now.” This is where Lady Capulet is quite forceful and wants decisions made up there and then. Only two seconds into the conversation later Lady Capulet asks, “Can you love the gentlemen?” And Juliet hasn’t even met the young man yet. Capulet is a very bad-tempered man if he does not get his own way. We can see why, in Act Three scene five, Juliet is driven to taking further consequences with her relationship to Romeo because her father is over keen and doesn’t see reasoning or his daughter’s side of the story. “Speak not, reply not, do not answer me.” He is oblivious to the truth and only sees one story. His! If her parents were more patient and not so ignorant it could have helped the situation, not just between their daughter and them but also between the Montagues and them. If they were closer to their daughter and not push her so much, it wouldn’t have pressurised her to become rebellious. She rebels against her father, as well as her mother because she doesn’t want to marry the man her father has chosen for her.
The Capulet family (except Juliet) are more war-like than the Montagues because the Montagues are more laid back and peace lovers. Servants of the Capulet house start a fight with servants of the Montague house by using rude suggestions “I will bite my thumb at them which is disgrace to them if they bear it.” If they just let the ancient grudge fade and let it go than there would be no need for all these quarrels. Mainly the Capulets wind up the Montagues, which starts off all the commotion. On the Montague side Benvolio tries to be a peace maker as he wishes not to fight with Tybalt in Act One scene one, “I do but keep the peace.” And Romeo is definitely not keen on brawls. I would blame the Capulets more so than the Montagues for the deaths of the two lovers because they are the ones who seem to instigate and provoke most of quarrels and fights.
Tybalt is a lover of war and so he will have a fight with anyone for such a petty reason. He even challenged Romeo to a duel just because he attended the Capulet’s party. Mercutio stood up for Romeo, as he didn’t want to fight, Mercutio ends up dead due to Tybalt and than Tybalt ends up dead due to Romeo. This resulted in Romeo’s banishment, which than later leads to Romeo and Juliet’s death.
If Tybalt weren’t so revengeful than the deaths wouldn’t have happened. However if there weren’t an ancient grudge there wouldn’t be any need for any of the fights, which occur. Then again Romeo shouldn’t have attended the Capulet’s party and Mercutio shouldn’t have persisted that Romeo be present at the party than at least Romeo wouldn’t have met Juliet and fallen in love with her and neither of them would have died through this situation.
The Friar has a part to play in the responsibility of the two lovers deaths, as he wasn’t very mature about the matter. He acted before thinking, ending with dangerous consequences. He has good intentions as he believes their love and marriage could end the grudge “For this alliance may so happy prove, to turn your households’ rancour to pure love.” But he doesn’t see that this is a real big gamble it will either help the situation, bringing the families together or make matters worse and cause an even bigger conflict. Personally I don’t blame the Friar for giving Juliet the potion which makes her sleep; in fact I think it was a clever plan, it just need to be more developed and would have worked if the letter had got to Romeo in time. But the Friar was foolish for sending a letter, especially when it didn’t even get close to Mantua. Friar John (who was passing the letter on) still had the letter because he had to attend the problems of a plague, which had broke out. “I could not send it – her it is again”. Instead he should have sent someone or even so hired someone to bodyguard Juliet in case Romeo was to see her and misinterpret the situation.
Technically I could blame fate for the letter not having reached Romeo in time. I also blame Balthasar for misjudging the circumstances and telling wrong news to Romeo. “Her body sleeps in Capel’s monument.” However Romeo shouldn’t have made such a rash decision to go and see Juliet, he could have consulted the Friar first; but than again there should have been someone else in the vault waiting in case Romeo appeared, looking for Juliet. Though Friar Lawrence raced to the cell he wasn’t quicker enough.
In addition, I could pass blame on the nurse partially for leaving Juliet’s side. The nurse was always there for Juliet to help and guide her. It wasn’t fair on Juliet that first of all the nurse is willing to help and encourage Juliet marriage to Romeo and than suddenly desert her and leave her on her own. “I think it best you married with the County.” The nurse changes her view and thinks Juliet should forget Romeo and marry Paris, possibly because the nurse wants to keep the family peace along with the fact that Romeo may not return because of his banishment. To Juliet this is like taking her parents side, this drives Juliet into going to Friar Lawrence for help and taking the potion. When Juliet needed the nurse most she wasn’t there. The nurse should have either stuck by Juliet all the way or stopped the whole process from the beginning.
The two lovers themselves are partly to blame for their own deaths. If Romeo hadn’t gone to the feast he wouldn’t have met Juliet. If Juliet hadn’t lost her sense and rushed into marriage she would have had time to think things through more carefully. I don’t see why Juliet couldn’t have run away with Romeo to a different country. She would have done that anyway once she woke up from her sleep. I understand that you can’t stop to lovers from being together but they could have helped themselves during the situation by, both of them running away earlier on in the play. But then again if they did that it wouldn’t be a romantic tragedy.
I could partially blame fate for Rosaline not loving Romeo back than that way Romeo wouldn’t have felt so depressed at the beginning of the play and Mercutio wouldn’t have had to cheer him up by persuading him to go to the feast and he wouldn’t have meet Juliet.
The main factor of their death is the ancient grudge and the parents, the rest of the factors branch of these two causes. The parents are to be blamed because they are acting so irresponsible about the ancient grudge. It is history they should just let it go or discuss the differences and compromise over it, and then there would be no quarrels and brawls. If there wasn’t any friction (or fights) between the families then there won’t be any reason for Romeo and Juliet to hide their love for one another. And it wouldn’t have ended in death. Everything mentioned as the responsibility of their deaths can easily be traced back to the ancient grudge. If there were no ancient grudge there would be no fights, no potions and poisons needed but than again no ancient grudge, no storyline!