Who is to blame for the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet?
The quotation takes the point of view that fate is to blame for the death of Romeo and Juliet. It states that the outcome could not have been changed and whatever Romeo and Juliet had done, the end result would have been the same. The prologue of the play also takes this view
“The fearful passage of their death-marked love”Order now
The phrase “death-marked love” informs us that their love is marked with death from the very beginning and nothing they do will change this fact, because it is their fate. In Elizabethan times most people would have believed that fate is the main cause of the tragedy. But some people might suggest that it is more accurate to say that it was their destiny, which is caused by human responsibility, rather than their fate, which is fixed and cannot be changed, that is to blame. Fate means that the end was already decided for them, right from the beginning of time but destiny means that they decide their own life as they go along, through the choices they make and the through what the people around them do.
There are many reasons why Romeo and Juliet came to such a tragic end. Ultimately the end result was as it was because of everything that happened tying together. For instance, if Tybalt had not killed Mercutio then Romeo would not have killed Tybalt and would not have been banished. It was a sequence of unfortunate events.
There are many things it could have been; hatred, destiny or even love. When we think of love we think of something that is wonderful, something that solves our problems and dissolves our hatred. We can see from the play that love changes personalities. Romeo and Juliet become desperate to hurry through everything, they can’t wait to see each other, they want to get married, and they want to sleep together, all at once. Love has taken over and they can’t get enough of each other. When we take a look at Romeo and Juliet after they fall in love we can see that their personalities have changed, but in very different ways. Romeo becomes sensitive and he tries to spread his love and happiness to others around him.
“I do protest I never injured thee,
but love thee better than thou canst devise.” 3.1.61-62
This is a very unexpected response from Romeo, seeing as he is a Montague and it is assumed that all Montagues hate all Capulets. This is why it seems that Romeo is acting like this because of being in love.
Juliet has also had a change of personality; she becomes commanding and resilient.
“Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
…And bring in cloudy night immediately.”
This quote shows her determination and strong will power compared to how she is before she fell in love. Before Romeo came along we never saw her being strong or aggressive, only obedient and polite around her mother and father.
We could blame the result of the play on many people for many reasons. Here I am going to examine the main culprits and what they did to contribute to the consequence of Romeo and Juliet’s love.
Romeo played a big part in the death of Juliet and himself. His character caused him to be hasty and rush into things without thinking. This made him much more vulnerable and he endangered himself and Juliet in the process. Firstly, the reason he met Juliet was because he went to the party to try and woo Rosaline, and when he saw Juliet, he immediately, following his hasty character, fell in love with her and began to charm her. If he had not been so conforming to his anger he would not have been in such a rush to make Tybalt pay for slaying his friend and would not have been banished. This shows he does not think of the consequences of his actions. And again when he heard Juliet had died, he jumped on his horse and hurried off to the Capulet vault. He did not stop to think that some other news might arrive.
“Hire post-horses; I will hence tonight.”
Romeo to Balthasar 5.1.26
If he had waited a few more minutes and thought things through, he would have got the note from Friar Lawrence and he would have been able to revive Juliet. If he had not been so suicidal he would not have killed himself and they both would have survived.
If Juliet had not followed Friar Lawrence’s plan Romeo would never have died and she would still be alive but also unhappily married to Paris. Juliet was desperate to escape marriage, l so she went ahead with whatever plan could get her out of it.
If Lord and Lady Capulet had not tried to force Juliet to marry whom they wanted her to marry and had not turned against her when she refused then they may have considered letting her marry Romeo.
“The County Paris, at Saint Peter’s Church,
Shall happily make thee there a joyful bride.”
“Now, by Saint Peter’s Church and Peter too,
He shall not make me there a joyful bride.”
Lord Capulet said at the party that he thought quite highly of Romeo.
“Verona brags of him
To be a virtuous and well-governed youth.”
He seemed to quite like Romeo so if Juliet had told her father about him he may have allowed her to stay married to him. Of course if Capulet and Montague had not fought in the first place and had they been able to put there differences behind them then there would be no problem and Juliet could have mingled with whomever she pleased!
Lord and Lady Montague did not seem to play much part in the play at all. They are rarely mentioned apart from in the very first scene. From this we are given the impression that they did not really pay much attention to Romeo’s life. If they had got involved it would have probably just made it worse.
The Friar plays a father figure to Romeo and Juliet. He was the one who agreed to marry them in the first place and also the one who encouraged Juliet to fake her own death.
“Take thou this vial, being then in bed, And this distillï¿½d liquor drink thou off, When presently through all thy veins shall run a cold and drowsy humor, for no pulse.”
He’s the one who gave her the potion and the one who sent the letter, which never arrived. If he had never encouraged Juliet then both her and Romeo would still be alive but also unhappy and not together. The Friar seems to play a big part in the way things turned out, a lot of the things he did to help the young couple, didn’t really help them at all.
Romeo and Juliet often use the nurse as a messenger so as to arrange the marriage. This is not a good choice because, as she works for Juliet’s parents, her loyalties should lie with her parents. She also helps Romeo to get into Juliet’s bedroom on their wedding night; she gives him a ladder. The nurse’s character is very bawdy and she thinks lot of sexual things. Her view of love is different to Romeo and Juliet’s, her view is completely sexual, where as Romeo and Juliet’s love is to do with feelings. This could add to the fact that she wants to help Juliet have a good time. Even though her devotion should be to Juliet’s parents, she cares a lot for Juliet and wishes the best for her. But if the nurse does go against Juliet’s parents’ wishes she would lose her job and be in a lot of trouble. The nurse appears to have chosen that Juliet is more important to her than her job so in the end she helps Romeo and Juliet keep seeing eachother.
Tybalt is feisty by nature and this provokes Mercutio and the other Montagues to fight him.
“Turn thee, Benvolio, and look upon thy death…peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward.”
If he had not gone out hunting for Romeo nobody would have died. The unfortunate thing is that none of the children, from either side of the family, even have a reason to fight other than the fact that their parents are enemies.
Mercutio is quite similar to Tybalt in many ways. They both enjoy fighting and mocking each other and both loathe the other’s family. When Tybalt came looking for Romeo he made it quite clear that he did not want to fight Mercutio and was there only for Romeo, and when Romeo arrived he dismissed Mercutio:
“Peace be with you, sir, here comes my man.”
Tybalt to Mercutio 3.1.49
But Mercutio insisted and it ended up that Mercutio, himself, died. If Mercutio had withdrawn then, Romeo might never have been banished. But that was not in his character.
Though we cannot say that it would have been better if something had been changed or if Romeo and Juliet had not died because if this was the case the feud would have still been happening and both families probably would have rejected their relatives.
The whole thing is caused by the fact that Lord Capulet and Lord Montague cannot set aside their differences and have imposed their view, that the other is wrong, on their relatives. Both sides of the feud have at least one person who can see that the whole fight is pointless and needs to be sorted out. The fact that Romeo and Juliet go that little bit further to be together and solve their families problems shows that the feud is causing nothing but grief and that people have even died trying to harm a member of the other family.
I don’t think that the blame can be placed on just one person because if any one thing had changed the outcome would have changed and we can’t pick just one thing that caused the result. From this we could say one of two things; either fate is to blame or destiny is to blame. Fate traditionally is based on star alignments and nothing can change what the end will be. Destiny is based on what people do and the choices they make, and different choices produce different endings. And as we know, if one thing was changed about the play the outcome would be completely different, we can conclude that the quotation is false and destiny is to blame for the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.