Romeo and Juliet – one of Shakespeare’s greatest works – is constantly filled with references to fate.
In this essay I will be talking about key elements that suggest fate in the play. In Romeo and Juliet there are many references to their own death. This will be my first subject. My second topic will be the way in which Romeo loses his faith. For the third paragraph there will be a complicated paradox.
” I fear, too early, for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night’s revels, and expire the term
Of a despised life clos’d in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
But He that hath the steerage of my course
Direct my sail! On, lusty gentlemen!”
In this quote Romeo is saying to the audience that if he enters this party, the events that will follow will cause his passing (this is the party where he will meet Juliet and set off the events that will lead to his death.) This is the first main point in the play where Romeo talks about his death. What Romeo is saying is even though he knows going to this party will eventually course his death, he is willing to let God make the decisions for him.
This tells the reader two things: one that Romeo is obviously very religious, and two, that Romeo is clearly predicting his death. The image Shakespeare uses to show this is that God is the captain and Romeo is the ship.
In the times of Shakespeare’s plays religion was as important as politics. Shakespeare uses this to his advantage. Romeo losing his faith could be argued to be the real tragedy. The quote above implies that Romeo is willing to put his life in danger if God wants him to.
“I defy you stars”
This is very important for Romeo as it means he is so in love with Juliet that he is willing to forget God. This gives more reason for Romeo to kill himself. In the film the death of Tybalt comes in front of a statue of Jesus. Killing, in the eyes of Christians, is the second worst sin that you can commit. This then shows that he is gradually losing his faith. First he slays Tybalt in front of Jesus, then he commits suicide in a Church, the home os God.
Suicide, in those days, was considered the worst sin of all as it took the choice about whether a person lives or dies away from God. Many times in the play, God controls events that lead to Romeo’s suicide. This implies that Romeo it is not Romeo’s fault that he committed suicide. The best example of this is when Frier John is stopped from delivering the message because of a disease which causes the area that he is staying in to be quarranteened. If that message, telling Romeo that although Juliet looked dead, she was still loving, had reached Romeo, he would not have committed suicide. Maybe what is happening here is that Romeo’s suicide has been controlled by God but for a different reason than we may first presume. After Romeo and Juliet’s bodies are discovered, the Capulets and the Montegues decide to end their argument and draw up a truce. God has used these two young people’s suicides to stop the ongoing disagreement which could have led to war and the deaths of many more people.
As we have seen, Shakespeare uses fate in many ways. However, in my opinion, the most important way in which fate is used is to direct the plot. Fate makes people do things and events happen in a story which do not need to be explained in other ways. It is like an unseen force directing characters. In those times fate was God.