’s Romeo And Juliet Essay, Research Paper
William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, is one of the greatest love stories of all time. The play was written around 1595, but the story has proven to be timeless. The play is a story of forbidden love that is resolved in two tragic deaths. Romeo and Juliet come from feuding families, but they defy the feud and fall in love. Many events take place during the five short days that they share their love. All of the events surround characters from both the Montague and Capulet families. For example, during the play, a fight, which ends in Romeo’s banishment, takes place because of Tybalt’s hot temper, Romeo’s extreme passion, and Mercutio’s quick wits. The forces of love and hate are also very evident throughout the play. In the end, Romeo and Juliet’s love finds a tragic way to overcome the hate between their families. In Romeo and Juliet, the story revolves around Juliet while she grows up and falls in love, only to have fate keep her from complete happiness.
Juliet is the strong-willed young daughter of Capulet, a rich man in Verona. Shakespeare made her character a mere thirteen years old, but she acts mature beyond her years. She is practical, honest, and loyal to herself and her family. She is also very passionate about her love, but she has control of her passion. The play is about how she discovers love, loses love, and grows up over a very short period before her ill-fated death. Romeo and Juliet is very much the story of a girl becoming a woman. She acts as the protagonist of the play because she is the main character that the audience watches while she matures and people want her to be content.
G. K. Carey, M. A., author of "Cliffs Notes of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet," states, "…the play, for all purposes is hers [Juliet's]- a thirteen year-old girl, discovering love, being loved, then abruptly being, according to her nurse, as good as widowed…" He makes a very good point about the main events in the play that revolve around Juliet. The first main thing that she is involved in is just the fact that she belongs to one of the feuding families. Another scene involves Paris asking to marry Juliet. Through this scene, Shakespeare shows the importance of Juliet to the story, and he also confirms her beauty, since Paris falls in love with her on sight alone. He also shows that she is an obedient child. When her mother asks her how she feels about marriage, she replies, "I’ll look to like, if looking like move; but no more deep will I endart mine eye than your consent gives strength to make it fly." That statement lets the reader know that she is not interested in love yet, but she will do as her parents want her to do. This obedience starts to diminish as she falls in love and gives her loyalty to Romeo.
The next main event in the play is the ball, where Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love. When Juliet learns that she has fallen in love with her enemy, she shows great remorse and her loyalty begins to go to Romeo because she thinks the feud is absurd, "…Prodigious birth of love it is to me, that I must love a loathed enemy." Through this scene and the balcony scene, the reader learns that Juliet is the sensible, controlled half of the couple, while Romeo is the impulsive one. She shows her practicality in the balcony scene when Romeo asks what he should swear his love by. She rationally replies, "Do not swear at all; or if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self, which is the god of my idolatry, and I’ll believe thee." She is passionate about her love, but remembers her adult duties and gives Romeo an ultimatum to marry her if his love is true. She definitely takes charge of the relationship to be sure that she is not just another one of Romeo’s crushes.
After their wedding, when Juliet learns that Romeo has killed her cousin, Tybalt, she is certainly more loyal to her husband than to her family. After she realizes where her loyalty should be, she says, "Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?" Without her loyalty and love, she would not have stuck by Romeo. If she had taken her Nurse’s advice and considered Romeo dead when he was banished, there would be no love story. The entire story is based on her decisions and how they affect the rest of the details in the story. Her decision to be faithful to Romeo is the most important one. It is the decision that the falling action of the play is based on.
While Romeo is in Mantua, Capulet decides that Juliet and Paris will be married immediately. Her obedience is completely gone when she defies her father and tells him she will not marry Paris. They end up in an argument over the very important issue until Juliet concludes that she will have to kill herself before marrying Paris. She tells her mother this in hope that she will delay the marriage, "Or, if you do not, make the bridal bed in that dim monument where Tybalt lies." During this portion of the play, we begin to see the extreme dilemma that she is in. According to "Barron’s Book Notes on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet," by various authors, "Because she [Juliet] is so young, we feel intense sympathy for her." We would feel sympathy for any character in this type of predicament. Shakespeare makes Juliet his protagonist so the audience will feel sorry for her and want her to be happy. To have a chance at being happy at this point in the play, the only thing Juliet can think of is going to Friar Laurence for help.
When Juliet receives the potion from Friar Laurence, she knows it is her only hope to get out of marrying Paris. She realizes that she must trust that the Friar gave her the correct potion and has her doubts of the plan until she remembers that it is the only way to see Romeo, "Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee." That is another very important decision she makes to risk her own life and safety just to be with Romeo. Her actions show how her strong love and faith pull the entire story together. Her love and determination keep her from marrying Paris and that adds another important element to the story.
When Juliet awakens to find Romeo dead at her side, she is devastated. She resolves their love by killing herself. This is undoubtedly a very important decision on the young woman’s part. She was still alive and could have gone on with her life as a widow, but her loyalty to Romeo made her want to be with him in life and death. If she had not made that decision, the Montagues and Capulets may have continued their feud and Juliet would not have been content without her love. It is very obvious that Shakespeare meant for Juliet to be the protagonist of the play. The play is meant to tell a love story, but it is also meant to show Juliet mature from a girl to a woman. "Barron’s Book Notes on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet" also states,"The best mark of Juliet’s maturity is that she’s strong enough to be true to herself and to Romeo, even though everyone is against it, and the cost is very high." She was not that strong at the beginning of the play and her newfound strength is what pulls her to the end. G. K. Carey, M. A., also explains, "In short, Juliet develops from a heroine of light comedy to a heroine of tragedy." It is very evident that Juliet is the true heroine of the play who has fate opposing her and keeping her from happiness.
The power of fate is introduced in the Prologue of Romeo and Juliet when it states that the two are "death-mark’d." From that point on, fate deals the lovers it’s worst and ends as predicted, with death. Fate is the force that predetermines events, but since the story takes place in a Christian context, fate can also be interpreted as Providence, or God. In Romeo and Juliet, fate is the biggest force opposing Romeo and Juliet. It is more powerful than the hate between the families because the lovers found ways to beat the hate, but there is no way to beat a predestined death. Some might call these events coincidences, but it is written as fate in the Prologue.
William Shakespeare begins his play with the Prologue to make it clear that the fate of the lovers is not their fault, they are not entirely responsible for their misfortune. "Cliffs Notes on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet" argues,"The Prologue directs our attention to the important part which fate plays in the lives of the two young lovers, who are to some extent the victims of their parents’ strife." The Prologue states, "The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love," which implies that the fate of their love is death. The first coincidence of the play is that Romeo and Juliet shared the unfortunate fate that they are from feuding families. It is not very likely that of all the people to fall in love with, they had to choose each other. If the two had never met, there would not have been any tragedies, therefore no play. Without the fate of the young lovers, the story would not have existed. There are many smaller details of fate that lead to the couple’s demise, but none as important as the fact that the end is stated in the beginning.
Isaac Asimov, author of Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare, states, "But as the fates would have it, the servant who receives this order is illiterate and has no chance to explain that fact to the hasty Capulet." The first small detail of fate comes when Capulet’s illiterate servant asks Romeo to help him read the guest list for a party that night. When Romeo sees Rosaline, his love, is on the list, he decides to crash the party disguised with a mask. At the ball, Romeo found Juliet and forgot all about Rosaline. The fact that the servant asked Romeo and Benvolio for help is definitely a coincidence that affects the entire story. If he had not known about the ball, he may not have met Juliet and fallen in love. Theoretically, if Romeo had found Rosaline at the ball and she returned his love, he may have passed Juliet by to be with Rosaline.
The antagonist of fate is discussed again in the wedding scene, this time by Friar Laurence. He warns the couple of their destiny when he says, "These violent delights have violent ends." He knows the situation will not work, but he marries them because he thinks it will end the feud. When thinking of fate, we also start thinking of "what if" questions. The most prominent one at this point in the play is ‘what if Friar Laurence had told someone that he had married Romeo and Juliet?’ The feud could have ended right there if the Montagues and Capulets had learned of their children’s marriage. They might have been angry about it, but there’s not much they could do after the wedding had already taken place. Unfortunately, fate keeps the Friar from announcing the wedding and the marriage remains a secret. The next "what if" comes right after the wedding scene.
What if Romeo and Mercutio hadn’t been in the street when Tybalt showed up? If these three characters had had different timing and not come in contact with each other, there would not have been a fight. Tybalt and Mercutio would not have died, and Romeo would not have been banished. Another work of fate in this act is that the Prince decides to banish Romeo rather than kill him, which is the usual punishment. The list of "what if’s" is very long for this portion, but it is obvious that fate controlled the actions of this segment, which led to disaster.
Another work of fate comes when Capulet orders Juliet to get married immediately. It may seem like an insignificant detail of fate at the time, but it affects the entire story. If he had not ordered the wedding so soon, Friar Laurence would have had time to bring Romeo back and get the couple back together. Capulet’s orders cause Juliet to take the potion and make Romeo believe she’s dead. This part of the play leads to one of the most significant acts of fate when Romeo does not receive the letter that Friar Laurence sends.
"Fate, coincidence, and the stars – they have all dealt the lovers yet another blow," says G. K. Carey. He goes on to say, "The destinies of the lovers depended on the element of chance; fate denied it to them." These statements are about the scene in the play where Friar Laurence gives Friar John a letter explaining his and Juliet’s plan. Unfortunately, the letter doesn’t make it there because of a quarantine in Mantua. Balthasar reaches Romeo and tells him that Juliet is dead. Stricken with grief, Romeo heads to an Apothecary to get a potion to kill himself next to his love. Fate had not killed the couple yet, it had one more action to finish them off.
Fate’s final blow was to make Romeo arrive at the tomb just minutes before Juliet awoke. If he had arrived after Juliet had woken up, the plan would not have been necessary and the lovers would have had a chance at a happy life together. Though their physical deaths were their own decisions, fate is what made them want to die. Their deaths led to the end of the ancient feud. The predetermination of fate led one catastrophic event into another. If fate had not shown up at one place, the lovers might have lived. Fate may have been brutal to Romeo and Juliet, but it had it’s motive, which was to end the feud. It is indisputable that fate is the most dominant force in the play and it is most responsible for the devastating death of the young lovers.