‘Romeo and Juliet’ is known as one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays due to the tragedy of the two lovers. In the prologue the outline of the play is mentioned, which makes it very predictable.
An Elizabethan audience would have been familiar with the play as it is based on a famous poem, ” The Tragical History of Romeo and Juliet” by Arthur Brooke. The prologue informs the audience straight away of the storyline and background information, therefore making it predictable. In the prologue Shakespeare portrays Romeo and Juliet as;
This quotation shows us how fate played a part in this story.
An Elizabethan audience would have believed in this, as they were very supertious. The Elizabethans were in some ways more sophisticated than audiences of our 21st century; when we go to see a play or a new film, we expect to find the excitement in the action. Though say for instance both audiences would anticipate the ending, even though they both know what is to happen, Shakespeare’s audiences didn’t have the expectations of today’s audiences. They were happy to be shown plays/stories that they recognized.
Superstition and the belief of fate and density would have been one of the few things that makes ‘Romeo and Juliet’ predictable. From reading the prologue we can predict straight away that fate will be the cause of the two lovers death.
” A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.”
This quotation implies that even from the beginning, the young couple were doomed. ‘Star-crossed’ refers to the astrological outlook on destiny that was much more widely accepted when Shakespeare wrote this play. By including this line early in the book, Shakespeare creates a sense of anticipation in the audience. From the start they know what the outcome will be.
” The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love.”
This shows that the belief in their deaths was foretold in the starts, which makes their deaths inevitable.
” My grave is like to be my wedding bed.”
As Juliet quotes here, how fate plays a part in her wedding, as she talks of how her wedding bed will be her grave, which at the end of the play, it is correct.
When Mercutio attempts to make Romeo go to the Capulet dance, Romeo aggress but feels uneasy:
“I fear, too early: for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin its fearful date”
This shows that Romeo never felt happy with the idea of going to the Capulet party in the first place. If he had trusted his instincts and refused to go, the deaths of the two lovers may have been averted. Romeo is talking of how he thinks that if he goes to the ball, all will end in tears. Shakespeare suggests to the audience that the ultimate destiny of Romeo and Juliet was fated, and that by showing this as a technique, makes the play more predictable. There is a sense of doom throughout the play, from the beginning to the end.
Throughout the play the characters quote how they have bad feelings about what is to happen, as they believe in fate. Friar Laurence quotes:
“The yoke of inauspicious stars”
Showing how there is an air of suspiciousness in the ‘stars’, a bad feeling that something will happen. At the end of the play the Friar quotes:
“Fear comes upon me; o much fear
Some ill unthrifty thing”
He believes that their deaths were inevitable, and he has had bad feelings from the start about the young lovers. Fate is used a lot in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as a cause of the lovers deaths, as it is a very predictable thing.
“A greater power than we can contradict
Hath thwarted our intents”
The ‘greater power’ that friar Laurence refers to is, of course, fate.
Today’s audience would use fate in horoscopes as people read them to predict their destiny, just as the Elizabethans did in their plays.
Some people say that a lot of what happened in the play is down to chance and bad luck, due to this it makes the play less predictable as it created the sense that anything can happen.
Most of today’s modern day audience would have put it down to chance. If chance were to blame then it would make the play less predictable.
This is shown in the play by the fact that, it was by chance that Romeo bumped into the Capulet carrying the invitations to the ball, and asked Romeo to read it.
“God gi’ good e’en. I pray, sir, can you read”
The servant sees Romeo by chance and asks him to read the invitation. This then carries on to Romeo meeting Juliet bye chance at the ball, which leads to them falling in love. It was also by chance that Tybalt saw Romeo at the ball, which made him angry. The events that carry this on are like a knock-on effect, one after another, which in a way makes everything less predictable as the audience do not know what will happen next.
A modern day audience would more likely to put it down to chance, as we are more likely to believe in bad luck or chance rather than superstition, as we are more cynical.
The feud and conflict between the two families is shown immediately at the start of the play as the families are fighting. As one of the main themes of the play, it has a great effect of the predictability of the play, as because of the feud and conflict, it seems more likely that it will also end in the same way.
The two families fighting, starts of the first scene.
“My naked weapon is out. Quarrel I will back thee.”
Straight away we can see the hatred between the two families and the extent of it, ends in death. We can see this through Tybalt, and Mercuio’s deaths, and in some cases also through Romeo and Juliet.
With the aggressive atmosphere the audience can predict that this is not the end of the violence and there is more to come. We can also therefore predict that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship will be problematic and hard, as there families are enemies.
The main feud in the play is Mercutio and Tybalts deaths.
“Draw Benvolio! Beat down their weapons. Gentlemen, for shame, forbear this outrage Tybalt, Mercutio, the Prince expressly hath forbid this bandying in Verona streets.”
Romeo tries to stop the fighting but Tybalt wounds Mercutio and he dies. This then leads to Romeo killing Tybalt. Which leads to Romeo leaving Verona.
“Romeo, away, be gone! The citizens are up, and Tybalt slain stand not amaz’d: and the prince will doom thee death. If thou art taken: hence, be gone, away!”
Due to the feud, Romeo leaves Verona. Therefore it makes it predictable as the audience can sense this will bring bad luck and lead to somethings tragic happening, which it does. The feud has a major effect on the ending , due to all the fighting it leads to the death’s of the young lovers.
The “love” of romeo and juliet also in a way makes the play more predictable as from the moment they meet they have fallen for each other, it seems like they would do anything to be with eath other, which makes it seem like they will go to any lenghs to be with each other.