Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is the tragedy of two “Star-crossed lovers” caught up in a whirlwind of love and hate in the city of Verona. There are a number of factors, which contribute to their tragic deaths, which I will explore in this essay.
I will begin by discussing Friar Lawrence who was a close friend and confidante. He married Romeo and Juliet in hope that it would end the feud between the two families, the Capulets and the Montagues. By referring to act two, scene three, Friar Lawrence said, “…For this alliance may happy prove to turn your households rancour to pure love.” Friar Lawrence was shocked when Romeo said, “…I have been feasting with mine enemy…” Romeo meant by saying this that he wasn’t in love with Rosaline anymore but he was in love with his enemy, Juliet Capulet whom he had spent the night with.
When Juliet didn’t want to marry Paris she visited Friar Lawrence declaring her deep feelings of love for Romeo and pleaded with him to help her get out of the marriage. Friar Lawrence, being a gentle, understanding priest had thought out a plan advising Juliet to drink a potion so it would appear she looked dead but she would actually be in a deep sleep. Her family would put her body in the Capulet’s tomb alongside her ancestors and the newly buried Tybalt. In the meantime Friar Lawrence would send a letter to Romeo explaining this plan to him and that in forty-two hours Juliet would awake as if she had just had a pleasant sleep. By this time Romeo would be next to her waiting for her to awake. Unfortunately Friar John who was supposed to deliver the letter to Romeo didn’t reach him in time because he couldn’t leave the house because the health officers suspected him of carrying the plague. On hearing this Friar Lawrence had to hurry to the tomb before Romeo reached her and thought she was dead. Romeo arrived first and saw Juliet lying there.
Considering other facts leading up to the tragedy was the feud between the two families. There was always an atmosphere of hatred and aggression, which always resulted in violent, out-breaks. For example, in act one, scene one there was two of Capulet’s servants joking about two of Montague’s servants. Meanwhile the Montague’s servants arrived and then the first fight began. Benvolio, a Montague and a friend to Romeo, tried to stop the fighting by saying “Part fools. Put up your swords, you know not what to do.” But then Tybalt, a Capulet arrived and said that he wanted to fight Benvolio. I know this because he said “What, art thou drawn among these hartless hinds? Turn Benvolio, look upon they death.” Benvolio starts fighting with Tybalt and more people get involved including the two heads of the families. Escalus, Prince of Verona appears on the scene and demands peace as he shouts “Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, profaners of the neighbour-stained steel.” I think he sounds furious at this point in the play because there had been yet other out-break of violence in the streets of Verona and he threatened the punishment of death to anyone fighting on the streets of Verona. He stated, “If ever you disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the forfeit of peace.”
I consider the most significant factor to be the fight between Tybalt and Mercutio. Romeo didn’t want to fight Tybalt because he wanted to please Juliet and Tybalt was her cousin. Mercutio teased Tybalt and they began fighting. When Romeo tried to stop them Tybalt stabbed Mercutio and ran off. Thinking Mercutio was only injured, and then discovering he was dead, made Romeo chase after Tybalt eventually killing him. On hearing the news the Prince arrived and because Mercutio was related to the Prince, Romeo was not sentenced to death but banished from Verona. “… Let Romeo hence in haste, else, when he is found, that hour is his last…”
The Nurse, who had looked after Juliet since she was a baby, was more like a mother to Juliet than Lady Capulet. Juliet confided with her Nurse who was a little romantic herself and who was always suggesting how nice it would be to have a husband. On realising Juliet was in love with Romeo she acted as a go-between for them to send messages to each other. After the death of Tybalt the Nurse told Juliet that Romeo had done a terrible thing by killing Tybalt and knowing Romeo had been banished made Juliet hysterical. Seeing this the Nurse went to fetch Romeo who was hiding in Friar Lawrence’ s cell. Romeo felt very ashamed and wanted to kill himself but Friar Lawrence and the Nurse stopped him and said to go and see Juliet and speak to her then go to Mantua to hide.
Another factor was Paris, a rich man who was very polite to everyone. He was related to Escalus, the Prince who ruled Verona. If Paris married Juliet he would have been family and would have to be on Capulet’s side and that made Capulet so keen on the wedding. Paris had arranged for them to get married in three days time but Capulet rearranged the date to the next day in case Juliet changed her mind. The Nurse, meanwhile had taken Juliet’s parents side saying that Paris was a nice man and she could do a lot worse. Juliet was furious and shouted at her Nurse that she was wicked. Someone who she had always trusted and who’d always helped her. In a rage Juliet screamed that she would go and see Friar Lawrence to see if he would help her and if he couldn’t she would kill herself. “…I’ll to the Friar to know his remedy. If all else fail, myself have power to die.”