I will take several points of the play into account, such as: individual characterisation; attitudes to life and love; and the fate, destiny, coincidence and the star-crossed side of events. By the end of this assignment, I hope I will have answered this question.
To introduce the assignment, I am going to give my views on the play, before looking at each aspect of it in close detail:My first impression was that I thought there were several reasons as to why this is a good play, including the way it makes us think about the plot, and so in turn, how it makes us think about the real world outside it. For example, we see two young people (Romeo and Juliet) fall in love. This may make us impose questions about our own lives, such as where our own love lives are going, and if the reader is in a relationship, whether it has potential (perhaps like Romeo and Juliet could have had), or if it will never work out given foreseeable or unforeseeable circumstances (such as Romeo, with his supposed fascination with Rosaline).The second impression I got from it was from Rosaline, another character in the play, as she helped us to get an insight into the life of Romeo. I personally doubt that he really did love Rosaline, and that he actually wanted to fantasise over a woman who he knew he cold never (realistically) have a relationship with.
This could be vital for my assignment, because the attitudes to love between Romeo and Juliet could have killed them, in the sense that Romeo felt that he needed to immediately commit suicide when he saw the person he loved, dead.The final impression that I got was that the characters in the play seem as if they have their own different personalities. For example, Romeo is so easily led by his love life, but yet he never acts upon what he feels, by getting together with the woman – “Ay me, the sad hours seem long” (i.i.160) – in other words, he is depressed with his love and keeping it to himself, rather than telling the woman (Rosaline in this case).
Juliet however is a lot different – “Conceit, more rich in matter than in words” (ii.vi.30) – in other words, she thinks that people would be better off if you acted upon your dreams, and made them into reality. This shows that these two characters had different attitudes to the same thing – which shows that they had their own personalities.Overall, I am expecting this play to be quite fascinating and enjoyable. Romeo and Juliet is world renowned, and is generally recognised as being a brilliant play, with its author being one of the most famous writers in world history.
On the offset, the plot and characters seem to be integrated together very well, to produce a well balanced and easy to understand play. Overall, I have high expectations of this play.To answer the question, I am firstly going to look at the fate, destiny, coincidence, and the ‘star-crossed’ (Prologue.6) aspect of the play. I personally feel that fate, destiny, coincidence, and the star-crossed aspect, do play an important part in the play.Here is a list of quotes regarding the fate and destiny side of events:* “Give me my Romeo, and when I shall die,Take him and cut him out in little stars”(iii.
ii.20-21) Juliet here is saying that when she dies, she will take Romeo with him and they will be up with the stars together – and eventually that did happen.* “Then love devouring death…”(ii.
vi.7) Romeo here is saying that their love will be departed because one, or both of them will die (like a vicar saying “‘Till death us do part” during a marriage service, meaning hopefully you won’t part marriage until one of the couple die)* “Too like the lightning, which doth cease to beEre one can say, ‘it lightens..
.”(ii.ii.119-120) Here, Juliet is describing the love between her and Romeo as lightning, possibly because lightning will represent their powerful, and electric love. But also, lightning only lasts a few seconds, so maybe fate is telling us that their love won’t last for very long.* “That I must love a loathed enemy”(i.v.140) She thinks fate has come upon her, because she thinks she must love him because it was meant to happen.
She doesn’t give herself the option to try and not love Romeo.I think coincidence and destiny had quite a lot to do with the play’s events, although the characters themselves brought some of the events on. Coincidence, I feel had the largest part to play in the events that were to lead to the deaths, as far as the characters were concerned. For example, If Peter, the Capulets servant was to never ask Romeo “I pray sir can you read?” (i.i.
57), Romeo would never have got invited to the Capulets party, the place where Romeo and Juliet were eventually going to meet for the first time.I think the star-crossed method also played an important role within the play. This is because the characters referred to the stars often, either in a good way, or in a bad way.
“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life” (prologue.5-6)This quote in the prologue (the introduction) of the play basically tells us that the story was destined to take its course in the way it did, because the ill-fated couple were born lovers, destined to end up in disaster because that’s what the stars would lead them to. I think this quote alone makes destiny a very important aspect of the play and question, because the prologue actually tells the story, and tells us what will happen in it. If you saw the prologue as Shakespeare’s truthful ‘speech’ on what he wanted to happen, then destiny would have to be what killed Romeo and Juliet. However, if you saw the prologue as Shakespeare’s mystery element to the play (where it may or may not happen), then it may or may not be destiny’s fault that Romeo and Juliet died.I am now going to look at the conflict side of events. This is one of the main areas in which the dramatic mood and events was used to create the drama, by creating tension and mystery with the conflict.
The most obvious way I can describe what I mean by tension and mystery is the very first scene, involving the fiery character Tybalt. Basically, two members of the Capulet household, Sampson and Gregory, start taunting two members of the Montague family, Abraham and Balthasar. Basically, this brawl turns into a fight, which another character, Benvolio tries to stop. Eventually, Tybalt comes along, and as the fiery tempered character he is, starts to attack Benvolio. Tybalt laughs in the face of Benvolio, when he asks Tybalt “..
.to part these men with me” (i.i.67), and immediately starts taunting Benvolio, saying, “…
I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee” (i.i.69). Eventually everyone started fighting. This shows that conflict was in the play from the startAlso, this makes all sorts of questions and thoughts run through the heads of people who haven’t read or seen the play.
Who are these characters? What is their relationship with Romeo and Juliet like? How well do they know them or get on with them? Why did the Capulets and Montagues start fighting? And the most important question of all – what will this lead towards later in the play, as far as Romeo and Juliet’s deaths are concerned? We could also say this is the perfect start to Romeo and Juliet, as well as a very good conflict between the characters. This is because it makes us want to read on, to try and answer all these questions I have just raised. However, more importantly for us with this assignment, it gives a us an impressions as to what the fiery character Tybalt is like.Tybalt is one of the main characters, and in his own right partly responsible for Romeo and Juliet’s death. The story is very complicated, but basically, Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo’s close friend, and so Romeo kills Tybalt. This forces Prince Escalus to banish Romeo from Verona, because he had already warned the town not to fight any more as he was sick of the conflict between everyone.
This caused all the following events, mainly Friar Lawrence’s plan for Romeo to return to Verona to collect Juliet, so they could leave Verona together. But this plan went wrong, and as we know, it ended up unintentionally killing them instead. Because of this, we could blame Tybalt for their deaths. Although it seems Romeo was to blame for being banished, I see this as an attack of revenge, and not a regular fight. Benvolio thinks this too…”But by and by comes back to Romeo,Who had but newly entertained revenge” (iii.
i.173-174)In other words, Benvolio is saying that although it was a little harsh of Romeo to murder Tybalt (by entertaining revenge), it wasn’t an act of murder, because Tybalt had done exactly the same thing as Romeo, only he murdered Romeo’s best friend.I’m now going to talk about some other of the main characters who I think caused Romeo and Juliet’s death…Friar Lawrence: Although Friar Lawrence only directly influenced the deaths once; he does influence them quite a lot indirectly. He mainly acts upon what Romeo and Juliet are faced with, and tries to sort it out for them. For example, Friar Lawrence comes up with the plan for Juliet to pretend she’s died of grief, because of Tybalt’s (her cousin’s) death.
“And, with wild looks, bid me devise some mean,To rid her from her second marriage” (v.iii.239-240)Here, Friar Lawrence is basically explaining that Juliet came to him for help, so she could get out of marrying the man her parents wanted her to marry (Paris). This is why Friar Lawrence accidentally created all this chaos.
.. just to be a helping hand to her.The only direct effect he had could have been the worst one he could have made – he married them. Although he wasn’t sure a marriage between them would work, providing the fact that they were still teenagers, and also providing the fact that their families feuded, he still married them, because “This alliance may so happy prove” (ii.iii.
91). Basically, he thought that if he did marry them, he would bring the two families together – “To turn your households’ rancour to pure love” (ii.iii.92). I thought this was slightly optimistic, but I personally think that if Romeo and Juliet want to be married, then that’s all that counts, not what their families would think to it.Prince Escalus: The prince only caused one main event, but it turned out to be fatal.
I’m not entirely sure it would have changed things for the better if he had punished Romeo differently for causing Tybalt’s death, but never-the-less, it couldn’t have turned out as worse as it with his punishment as banishment! Prince Escalus gave the wrong sentence to Romeo, by banishing him, as he said only two or three days before then that he would execute anyone who would fight again in Verona…”If you ever disturb our streets again,Your lives shall suffer the forfeit of the peace.” (i.i.
95-96)Basically, if anyone fights in the street again, then his or her life will suffer badly, because if they aren’t banishment, then they will get a death sentence. When he caught Romeo and Tybalt fighting, he decided to banish Romeo -“…Let Romeo hence in haste,Else, when he’s found, that hour will be his last” (iii.i.197-198)In other words, if he’s ever seen in Verona again, he shall be executed.
I can’t help but think that if Tybalt hadn’t caused that fight in the very first scene, Prince Escalus would have overlooked what happened, as he always had done before. This would mean Friar Lawrence wouldn’t have come up with his ‘ingenious’ plan, and perhaps things would have turned out for the better.The families (the Montague’s and Capulets): I think that the families are to blame for everything! Capulet and Lady Capulet try persuading Juliet to marry someone she doesn’t want to marry, even after her cousin (Tybalt) had just died! In the script, this doesn’t seen so special, but if we put it into perspective, it will seem a lot different. If a 14-year-old girl today was suddenly told she had to marry someone, without even knowing about it until a few days before the ceremony, I don’t think it would be well received by the girl, or by the general public. The most overwhelming thing I saw was in the third act, just after Romeo had murdered Tybalt, whereby Lady Capulet, Tybalt’s relative, was bad-mouthing the Montague’s instead of mourning Tybalt’s death!”He is a kinsman to the Montague;Affection makes him false, he speaks not true” (iii.i.
179-180) (Referring to Tybalt’s death)This is really bad, because she is correctly blaming Romeo, but for the wrong reason. By this, I mean that no matter what Romeo would do, he would always lie… and in this case, it would be his fault no matter what he had done! This seems as if she didn’t care about her relative’s death, and was more concerned about getting the Montague family into more trouble! Overall, this shows that the families cared more about feuding, than their children’s lives, so perhaps they could be to blame for that reason.Peter (a servant): The early scene with Peter was the best example of coincidence in the play. I believe coincidence ruins a play, because it wouldn’t usually happen in real life, and therefore appears to be a flaw in the plot to me. I think this wasn’t so much bad coincidence, but Shakespeare saw the flaw he would have, bringing the Capulet and Montague families together at a party, so he had to do something to get them to meet – which would seem like no easy task.
Basically, Peter couldn’t read, but yet he had to post invitations to the people who the Capulet family invited. When he asks Romeo to read the letters, he responds by asking Romeo if he would go to the party to drink a glass or two of wine – “…be not of the house of Montagues, I pray you come and crush a cup of wine” (i.ii.
81-83). This is quite well thought out in my opinion, because it seems like the situation is feasible, so perhaps using coincidence in this scene wasn’t such a bad idea, and didn’t seem like a flaw in the plot to me.Getting back to the point… If Peter could have been able to read the letters, then Romeo would probably not have been invited to the Capulet party, and would probably not met Juliet. This is why I think Peter could have caused their deaths. This concludes my character analysis.
One final aspect I am going to look at is the time Shakespeare was writing. This can be explained easily. Basically, Shakespeare’s 16th century audiences would have thought differently to us – as their beliefs were based upon a lack of scientific knowledge, and their day-to-day lives were affected by their lack of technology. For example, It was typical of feuds to run in families (i.e. with the Capulets and Montagues); it was typical of huge sword fights to occur in the streets (i.e. The Capulets and Montagues in a huge brawl in the first act); and finally, where we see popular holiday resorts such as the Caribbean as being exotic, Shakespeare’s audiences thought that Verona in Italy was an exotic setting.
Basically, Shakespeare’s audiences thought incredibly different back then, and although it may explain some of the events that have happened, such as the fighting and feuding, it doesn’t completely explain why Romeo and Juliet had to die in the play.To conclude, I will put all this evidence together and try to form a clear explanation, as to what exactly killed Romeo and Juliet. I think that destiny, coincidence and the star-crossed theme is concerned, could have killed Romeo and Juliet – it all depends on how you look at it. If you took the fate idea in the Prologue (where it tells you of their deaths, as I explained earlier) seriously, then it would definitely be fate’s fault.As far as the characters are concerned, I think that almost every character has been integrated together in a particular way; to all somehow kill Romeo and Juliet. I don’t think there is one (main) character in the play that didn’t do something or another, to either directly or indirectly contribute to their deaths in some way.Conflict played a reasonably large part in their deaths.
The constant fighting in the streets made Prince Escalus banish anyone who was to fight (i.e. Romeo when he killed Tybalt). The conflict then though was due to the family feuds, as the fights were mainly between the Capulets and Montagues.
It is hard to say, but I don’t think this caused their deaths, simply because they weren’t fought because of Romeo and Juliet.Overall, I couldn’t say who or what killed Romeo and Juliet and be 100% sure of it, but I personally believe it was destiny. This reason may not seem justified as far as the actual play was concerned, but in the prologue, it tells of their deaths – this was a really important part, if not the most important part of the play..
.”From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life” (prologue.5-6)Basically, we knew all along that they would die during the play, so we couldn’t change what would happen to them – it was destiny. Therefore, to answer the question, I don’t think that the deaths of Romeo and Juliet could have been avoided.