Terrible things happen, that’s a fact, but when they happen, who or what is to blame? In the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, the famous star-crossed lovers end up committing suicide and dying in each other’s’ arms. Almost every event in this play added up to this result, but the four major events- the two meeting, the two marrying, Romeo being sent away, and the fake death of Juliet and real suicides- are evenly split between the two causes, fate and personal choices. Because of this, the roles of fate and the choices of the characters both had aon equal impact on the characters from this play.
Going in chronological order, the first main event, Romeo and Juliet meeting, was caused by fate. As with the entire play, a chain of events led up to that moment, which began with an illiterate servant who said, “God gi’ go-den. I pray, sir, can you read? ” (p. 192). In this quote the servant and Romeo and Benvolio all happened to be on the same street, and the servant happened to ask Romeo, out of everyone around them, if he can read. Romeo reading the guest list led to him ending up at the Capulet party, where he spotted Juliet and was enticed by her beauty.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night” (p. 201). Again, surrounded by people, somehow Romeo’s eyes fell upon Juliet, and he found her beautiful. Out of all of the beautiful women at the party, he fell in love with his enemy. Both of these moments were unintentional, but they were so synchronistic that they weren’t just accidents, but well-planned incidents brought upon Romeo and Juliet by fate. The next major event, though, was caused by choice.
The day after the night they met, they decided to get married and were married that afternoon by Friar Lawrence, who, when Romeo came to him about Julier, decided to use Romeo and Juliet’s love for his own goals. “In one respect I’ll thy assistant be; For this alliance may so happy prove To turn your households’ rancor to pure love” (p, 217). The Friar agreed to marry them because he believed it would end the fued between the Capulets and Montagues. He warns th lovers, but never with enough intent behind the words for the warnings to be anything other than consolations against the Friar’s knowledge that he could be making a grave mistake.
Therefore love moderately: long love doth so; Too swift arrive as tardy as too slow. Here comes the lady” (p. 226). Here he gave Romeo effortless advice, warning him against moving too quickly in love even though he’s going to officiate their marriage in mere minutes. The Friar was extremely hypocritical and tried to do the right thing but only to cover for himself. He made the choice of marrying them, as they made the choice to get married in the first place. He was responsible for saying no to Romeo, being that he was the adult, but instead he manipulated Romeo’s feelings into a solution for a huge problem.
He tried to be a martyr, but instead his selfish choice led to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. The same day they got married, Romeo was banished from Verona, which was caused both by fate and his choices. It began with Mercutio and Tybalt almost jokingly fighting. Romeo, though, was worried and tried to end the fight, but instead inflicted more damage. When Romeo comes in between the two, Tybalt’s sword pierced Mercutio from under Romeo’s arm, delivering the blow that would cause the deaths of all of them. Mercutio said, ‘Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm. (p. 231), and Romeo responded, “I thought all for the best”(p. 231).
This incident, at least, was an accident. Tybalt had not intended to kill Mercutio, but Romeo messed them up by trying to pull Mercutio away. Romeo didn’t intend for him to be killed either, he was just attempting to stop the fighting. Because Mercutio died, Romeo was filled with anger, and in order to avenge Mercutio, decided to kill Tybalt, which led to his banishment. Romeo demanded that Tybalt duel him, saying “And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!… Either thou or I, or both, must go with [Tybalt]” (p. 232).
Unlike Mercutio’s death, Tybalt’s was no accident. Blinded by grief and anger, Romeo made the choice to challenge Tybalt and spill more blood. Unlike Mercutio and Tybalt in their fight, Romeo went in with the intent to kill. Although these events are small, they add up to the big picture- Romeo and Juliet dying. The deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt led to the demise of the star-crossed lovers, and both Romeo’s choices and fate helped the plan along. The most important events of this play- Juliet faking her death and both of their suicide- were also caused both by choices and fate.
Juliet accepting the Friar’s offer of potion and going along with his plan was only the beginning og the end, and this event was caused by their choices. After Friar Lawrence finished brewing the potion, Juliet impatiently said, “Give me, give me! O, tell me not of fear! ” (p. 256). Juliet, so obviously displaying her childish nature, chose to go along with the plan without any second thoughts. The Friar, again, made the choice to do something that he was aware was wrong, ignoring the warnings that appeared right in front of him.
After Juliet was placed in the tomb, Romeo was misinformed and believed she was dead, so he planned to go in the monument and kill himself to be with her. He followed through with his plan, but moments after he died, the Friar entered the tomb and Juliet woke up. “Romeo! O, pale! Who else? What, Paris too? And steeped in blood? Ah, what an unkind hour Is guilty of this lamentable chance! The lady stirs. ” (p. 273). Out of everything that could’ve happened to hold Romeo up for a few minutes, nothing did. If he had arrived only a couple minutes later, both of them would’ve lived.
This wasn’t a decision made by any of the characters, but a well thought-out moment that was one of the final steps in the universe’s plan for Romeo and Juliet. When Juliet woke up to a dead Romeo and urgent Friar, she sent the Friar away and killed herself with Romeo’s dagger. “O happy dagger! This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die” (p. 274). Even though Friar Lawrence asked Juliet to go with him, she decided to stay and die with Romeo. The Friar, though, could’ve talked to her more and convinced her (which would’ve been easy) if he hadn’t been so worried about preserving his own reputation.
By breaking down the events immediately before their deaths, it was easy to figure out that they were caused by the decisions of the Friar (as were many of the bad things in this play) and Juliet, but also by fate. Many of the events in this play led up to Romeo and Juliet’s deaths, if not all of the events. Looking closely at these events, it’;s obvious that the complex situations weren’t created by fate or decisions of the characters, but rather by both of those two options. The four most important events were caused by a mix of the two, as would the rest of the events if they were looked into.
This play does a magnificent job of reflecting reality. It represents the fact that not everything is as simple as choosing between A or B, and most of the time, things that occur cannot be connected to only one person or one thing that’s responsible Blame is a complicated thing, and in times of grief, people like to choose one thing and push all of the blame in ot in order to make themselves feel better, but that’s not how things work. Nothing in this universe is simple, and the causation of bad things isn’t excused from that fact.