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Lauren Hill
2
nd
Hour
4/23/14

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet


O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? (1023). This famous quote by Juliet
Capulet is from the timeless play Romeo and Juliet which was written by William
Shakespeare. Written during the late 1500s, Shakespeare tells a story about two star-crossed
lovers, Romeo and Juliet, who were the son and daughter of two rivaling families, the
Montagues and the Capulets. Throughout the streets of Verona, Italy in the 1300s, tension
rose, and misunderstandings led to the tragic deaths of the young lovers. Romeo and Juliets
deaths were a direct result of fate, Friar Laurence, and their own decisions to hide their love.
In Romeo and Juliet, fate controlled what happened to the lovers in the end, and how
the death of the lovers solved the ongoing problem of the family feud. A plague o both your
houses! (1047). Mercutio illustrates how fate took control of the family feud by not allowing
Romeo and Juliet to love freely on earth without facing major consequences. It is inconclusive
as to how the feud started, but both families believed that fate was never going to restore peace
between them. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes a pair of star-crossed lovers take
their life; whose misadventured piteous overthrows do with their bury their parents strife. (992).
The prologue foreshadows that Romeo and Juliets deaths would dissolve their parents grudges
against the opposing families. It is explained that fate would not allow the children to live for a
reason. Friar Laurence also notes that the same earth that acts as a grave of devastation also acts
as a place where new things are created. He says, The earth thats natures mother is her tomb,
what is her burying grave, that is her womb (1029). In other words, every devastation comes
with a beautiful and peaceful resolution, or a new beginning. All in all, fate would not allow
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Romeo and Juliets love to live forever, so it was forced to turn in a different direction in order
for the ongoing problem of the family feud to resolve itself.
Fate mended the situation between the Montague and Capulet families. It also brought
Romeo and Juliet together, in the first place, so Romeo would not be lovesick over Rosaline his
entire life and so that Juliet would not be forced to love County Paris without putting up a fight.
Friar Laurence realized that the feud could be ended by Romeo and Juliets love for each other
and that one wrong mistake could take the lovers lives. They were willing to take that chance
because, in the future, it could possibly benefit the entire city of Verona. Fate allowed a Capulet
servant to ask for Romeos help since he couldnt read the invite list for the party. It also
allowed Benvolio, Romeos friend and the nephew of Montague, to force Romeo into sneaking
into to the party with him so he could show him all of the other girls available besides Rosaline,
since Romeo didnt really know what love was at the time. Before Romeo entered the Capulet
hall, he said, I fear, too early; for my mind misgives some consequence, yet hanging in the
starsby some vile forfeit of untimely death (1012). Romeo knew that something bad was
going to happen, but he wanted to see Rosaline and possibly seek new love. He knew that a
spark would possibly fly, but die out resulting in some type of death. Once Romeo and Juliet fell
in love, it was clear that neither one of the teenagers really knew what love was. They were
forced to learn their lesson by facing different obstacles. They discovered that they were in
danger when they found out that they were the son and daughter of rivaling families. Juliet also
foreshadowed her death when she said to the nurse, My grave is like to be my wedding bed.
(1018). When Juliet was talking to the nurse, she told her own fortune, but little did she know
that fate was not going to allow the couple to keep their love alive. When Prince Escalus
declared that whoever disrupted the streets of Verona with a fight started by the family feud
would be sentenced to death, he had foreshadowed Romeos banishment and all of the
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consequences Romeo would face from that moment until his actual death. Fate didnt want
Romeo to go down easy. He was given a lighter punishment since he had slain Tybalt Capulet,
who prior to had killed Romeos good friend, Mercutio. The morning that Romeo was going to
leave Juliet to go to Mantua, he jinxed his own future by saying, Let me be taen, let me be put
to death. I am content, so thou wilt have it so (1062). Throughout the rest of the play, there was
no chance for the lovers to survive. Friar Laurences failed plan and miscommunications after
Juliet drank the sleeping potion caused Romeo to cross over the line and commit suicide. He did
it in order to be with his dead wife, since he had made the mistake of marrying Juliet after
knowing her for less than twenty four hours. Fate was only allowing one problem to be resolved
at a time, and it wasnt going to let the lovers take responsibility for ending the family feud in
order to help citizens in the future.
Another factor that caused the deaths of Romeo and Juliet to take place was Friar
Laurence. His poor actions created misunderstandings that were so big that there was no way
that things would end up okay for Romeo and Juliet. Before Friar Laurence decided to marry the
young lovers, he said, So smile the heavens upon this holy act that after-hours with sorrow
chide us not (1040). He was worried that the marriage wouldnt work out, but he only really
cared about the fact that the feud between the Montague and Capulet families could end forever.
He didnt want to be blamed or punished if something happened to Romeo and Juliet. Also,
when Juliet threatened to kill herself instead of being forced to marry County Paris, Friar
Laurence reacted with haste and anxiousness. Hold, daughter, I do spy a kind of hope, which
craves as desperate an execution as that is desperate which we would preventif thou darest, Ill
give thee remedy (1074). was Friar Laurences response to Juliets threat. He failed to seek out
other options, which backfired on him, Romeo, Juliet, and both of their families. Friar Laurence
was not even sure if the plan would work, and when his message was not delivered to Romeo in
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Mantua, he was unprepared. His bad decisions displayed the faults in the stars and the accidental
mistakes took a toll on the lives of Romeo and Juliet.
Throughout the entire play, Romeo and Juliet believed that they were in love and they did
everything they could to keep their love safe on earth. Unfortunately, their poor decisions and
immaturities lead directly to their deaths. Early in the play, after Romeo and Juliet met, Romeo
called for a wedding right away. Friar Laurence had warned him about moving things along too
quickly and that there were consequences for not taking things slow. These violent delights
have violent ends and in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which, as they kiss consume.
The sweetest honey is loathsome in his own deliciousness and in the taste confounds the appetite.
Therefore love moderately (1040). This quote illustrates how love can build up greatly but can
quickly explode, and he uses the metaphor fire and powder to compare love to ignited fire and
gun powder. Also, Friar Laurence talks about how love can seem sweet at first, but too much
can ruin the spark, and he uses the metaphor of sweet honey to explain that love is loathsome in
its own deliciousness and confounds the appetite (can be ruined). Sadly, Romeo ends up
making the mistake of moving too quickly, and the couple became too attached to each other.
Later on in the play, Juliet made her own poor decision by threatening to kill herself and
deciding not to seek out alternative options to get around her marriage to County Paris. She
didnt think and decided to follow through a plan that was devised by Friar Laurence that wasnt
100% guaranteed to work. Before she drank the vile, which contained a sleeping potion to make
her seem dead for forty-two hours, she talked to herself about all of things that could go wrong in
her soliloquy. What if it be a potion which the friar subtly hath ministered to have me
deadwhat if, when I am laid into the tomb, I wake before the time Romeo come to redeem me.
Shall I not be stifled in the vault, to whose foul mouth no healthsome air breathes in, and there
die strangled ere my Romeo comes? If I wake, shall I not be distraught, environed withal these
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hideous fearsand in this ragewith a club dash out my desprate brains? Stay, Tybalt, stay!
(1079). Juliet talked about how the friar may have purposefully given her a real potion that
would kill her, or if she woke up early she might suffocate. She also wondered if all of the
ghosts and screams and shrieks would make her lose her mind, and she wanted to make sure that
Tybalts ghost wouldnt haunt Romeo. Even though she considered all of the things that could
go wrong, she still went along with the plan. Both Romeo and Juliets hasty decisions reflected a
sign of immaturity and showed their lack of knowledge about love, which led them to believe
that death was the only answer.
Romeo and Juliets deaths were looked at with anger and happiness. The factors that
contributed to their deaths helped everyone learn their lesson, including Romeo and Juliet
themselves. As much as Friar Laurence, Romeo, and Juliet wanted their love to stay protected,
fate was not going to let them stand in the way of ending the family feud. Friar Laurences
mistakes and worries created misunderstandings that only hurt the lovers. He learned that one
should think through more solutions when faced with tough problems and that he should be more
open to suggestions. Also, Romeo learned that too much pressure and speed would not benefit a
situation that has to be protected, and Juliet was only thinking about what was going to happen to
her, not about the grief that she would cause for her family. All of these elements exhibited the
importance of time, communication, and priorities and their role leading to the tragic deaths of
the lovers. When Romeo knew it was over, he looked up at the sky and with sadness and anger
said, I defy you, stars! (1088).