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‘I am fortune’s fool’ – to what extent is Romeo a victim of fate?

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    The notion of fate plays an important role throughout Shakespeare’s play, “Romeo and Juliet”. The two lovers encounter an enormous amount of bad luck. It is made clear to the audience right at the start, in the prologue, when Romeo and Juliet are described as star-crossed lovers, that their lives are controlled by fate and that they are destined to suffer tragic consequences.

    Shakespeare makes many more references throughout the play to the fact that fate is tampering with Romeo and Juliet.However their fate could have been their own doing, for example their untimely deaths could have been due to Romeo’s character or simply have been bad luck. In this essay I aim to answer the question, to what extent is Romeo a victim of fate? ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was written in Elizabethan times. Science and discovery were taking great leaps forward (for instance the first ships were leaving England for America the ‘new world’).

    Things were also going on in the world for which we have an explanation now but they didn’t then.Questions such as “how did the universe begin? ” were left to be answered by religion which was dominant at that time. It was an age when many people still looked at the world through fearful and superstitious eyes. In Shakespeare’s day the infant mortality rate was high, the ‘black death’ was abounding in Europe, and people’s lives were short and often brutal.

    Most people were very religious with a strong belief in heaven and hell – and also the supernatural – and they had little scientific intelligence of their own.As they felt they had little control over their own destiny, they placed themselves in the hands of fate and fortune. As an illustration of their lack of control over their own lives, the insecurities of their life and future, and all of the mysteries of the universe, they sought out fortune tellers, looked for ‘signs’, followed astrology and heeded stories about the supernatural to help them make sense of their lives and the world they lived in. That was the reason why Shakespeare’s supernatural plays such as Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream were highly popular.

    Romeo and Juliet endure a catalogue of misfortune from the outset of the play, starting with their fateful meeting at the Capulet ball, to the conclusion, where they both die in love with each other. They were born into two rival families which were ‘both alike in dignity’ in Verona, Italy. The start of the play focuses on the hatred between the Capulets and the Montagues; the prologue describes their deep and ancient hatred of each other. A quarrel soon breaks out between the servants of the Capulets and the Montagues.

    Shortly afterwards a fight ensues and the hatred between each other is so strong that the Prince of Verona himself has to step in to stop the fighting. This illustrates the extent of hatred between the two families and would show the danger Romeo and Juliet are when they fall in love with each other. Meanwhile Romeo, who is portrayed as the ‘courtly lover’, is pining after the current love of his life Rosaline. To cheer him up his friends Benvolio and Mercutio persuade him to come with them to enter the Capulet party uninvited.

    At the ball Romeo and Juliet first set eyes on each other, and later in the night they exchange vows and decide to get married. The next day Romeo seeks out his spiritual adviser the friar, and he agrees to marry them. With the help of Juliet’s Nurse and the Friar they marry each-other, meanwhile Juliet’s cousin Tybalt is really angry that Romeo and his friends intruded the ball so he requests a duel and starts looking for him. This is the start of the problem the couple would encounter when they finally get together.

    When Tybalt is looking for Romeo he meets Mercutio on the way. They both exchange insults. However Tybalt is more interested in quarrelling with Romeo, when he arrives Tybalt taunts him and tries to provoke him to fight. However, as the audience now knows, Romeo has just married Juliet.

    Juliet is Tybalt’s cousin and Romeo would not pick a fight with someone who is now his family so he walks away from the fight. Mercutio, unaware of the couple’s marriage, thinks that Romeo is submitting and, as he cannot bear seeing Romeo being treated in this way, he fights Tybalt.Romeo interrupts the fight and then Tybalt kills Mercutio. This starts a chain of catastrophic events which causes problems for Romeo and Juliet when they try to get together.

    Mercutio’s death at Tybalt’s hands incites Romeo to kill Tybalt. Romeo flees to Friar Laurence’s cell and the Prince of Verona banishes Romeo. Now Romeo cannot see Juliet – another problem for the couple. The Friar counsels Romeo when he tells him that he is banished and instructs him to go and consummate his marriage to Juliet.

    After their night together Romeo goes to Mantua. Meanwhile Lord Capulet arranges the wedding between Juliet and Paris the following Thursday, thinking that Juliet needs to get over her grief which he thinks is there because Tybalt is dead but actually is because Romeo is banished. This puts pressure on Juliet to find a way out and she refuses to marry Paris, Capulet turns angry and he tells her that if she does not change her mind and go ahead with the marriage, she will be cut off from her inheritance and from his (Lord Capulet’s) love.Juliet confides in the Friar her despair at having to marry Paris and she asks him for a means to prevent the forthcoming marriage.

    He gives her a vial of potion he has concocted to take while in bed that evening, which will make her appear dead for 42 hours. He plans to send for Romeo to meet Juliet at the Capulet tomb. The Friar’s messenger is delayed and does not reach Romeo. Romeo’s servant Balthazar views Juliet’s funeral and tells Romeo that Juliet is dead.

    Romeo subsequently buys a vial of poison from the apothecary and travels to Verona to Juliet’s tomb, planning to kill himself; Romeo in despair at Juliet’s ‘dead’ body kills himself because he thinks that, with Juliet dead, he has nothing to live for. Soon afterwards Juliet wakes up and when she sees Romeo’s dead body she commits suicide. The two feuding families, when they discover the consequences of their enmity, agree to put their differences aside and live in peace. The couple finally are together, but in death.

    Romeo’s character is interesting; he has many positive qualities such as his popularity and his positive outlook on life, but also many negative ones, which can be seen in his actions and his and the other characters’ words. At the start of the play, after the brawl, Benvolio and Lord and Lady Montague talk about Romeo and suddenly the atmosphere changes. Benvolio talks about sunlight, secrets and silence and Lord Montague talks about Romeo’s sadness but uses imagery about the weather and the earth to imply it.He says Romeo has tears ‘augmenting the fresh morning’s dew’ and that his sighs were ‘adding to clouds more clouds’.

    This imagery proves what Romeo means to his family and friends to the audience. When Romeo was mentioned it changed the worried atmosphere of conflict and it was about Romeo and their concerns about him and comparing him to the world. These images and ideas accompany Romeo throughout the play and shows how well liked and loved he is within the family. However it also highlights the fact that he acts as the courtly lover because of his melancholy state.

    Another source which shows his popularity and how well-liked he is comes from Lord Capulet himself when he says ‘Verona brags of him’ and he admits that Romeo is ‘a virtuous and well governed youth’. Even his family’s bitter enemy confirms his popularity in Verona. It shows that he is lively as well as popular – and usually happy too. For instance, Romeo is very happy after he has arranged his marriage to Juliet with the Friar, and even starts making jokes with Mercutio.

    Compared to Romeo’s melancholy state in the first act Romeo seems happier and, according to Mercutio, more himself.Mercutio confirms that Romeo is usually popular, happy and sociable when he said ‘now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo’. However Romeo is also immature and impulsive. At the start of the play when he meets Benvolio he imagines he is in love with the chaste Rosaline and his talk is bookish and full of artificial expressions of emotion.

    He really seems to be wallowing in self pity. Romeo’s language is artificial, intellectual and rather forced. He uses so many ornate and different descriptions for his feelings because he is not really in love at all – he is in love with the idea of being in love.He uses many rhyming couplets such as ‘still’ and ‘will’ ‘breast’ and ‘pressed’ etc which makes what he says seem like a well rehearsed speech than a true expression of emotional torment.

    He also uses many oxymorons, that is to say phrases made out of opposites. To begin with he talks of ‘bawling love’ and ‘loving hate’ and he uses many more in his speech. Even Romeo’s language signifies his emotional and mental confusion and the fact that he is not in love with Rosaline but he with the idea of being in love so he acts the courtly lover and wallows in self pity.When he goes to the Capulet ball where he first sees Juliet, he does not even see her properly but he declares his love for her and denounces his idea of love with Rosaline when he says that he has ‘ne’er saw true beauty till this night’.

    This proves that he was never in love with Rosaline and also shows him to be fickle and impulsive. When the Friar finds out that Romeo loves someone else he is astonished ‘holy saint Francis’ he exclaims and he asks Romeo ‘is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear? ‘ He is astonished at Romeo’s change of heart and says that young men like him love ‘not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes’.By this quotation he confirms the audience’s thoughts that Romeo is fickle. When Romeo points out that the Friar told him off for loving Rosaline, the Friar remarks that he told Romeo off for ‘doting, not for loving’.

    That quotation sums up the Friar’s opinion that Romeo is in love with being in love and that he does not really love Rosaline but doted on her instead. He also says that Rosaline knew that Romeo was not in love with her and that he is in love with being in love when he remarks that ‘she knew well’ that Romeo’s love ‘did read by note and could not spell’.These quotations from other characters and the language Romeo himself uses underline that Romeo is a fickle character and how immature, impulsive and in love with being in love he is in the early part of the play. The most important quality within Romeo’s character is one which some may say is a negative the balcony scene.

    When Juliet reveals her love for him, he makes many promises. For example he says he would change his name for her, and also he declares that love has brought him here and he is willing to die if Juliet loves him.His passion leads him to strong emotions either extreme happiness or extreme sadness, when Romeo discovers he is banished he cries out ‘Tis torture and not mercy’ and becomes quite wild, when the Nurse tells him of Juliet’s woes he even draws his dagger and asks the Friar where his name is kept so he could stab it, he contemplates suicide, this proves Romeo’s feelings for life, he is quick to love and he is quick to kill himself if life feels empty. Once again, the Friar notices Romeo’s behaviour and remarks upon it when he says to Romeo that his tears are ‘womanish’ and that he acts with ‘the unreasonable fury of a beast’.

    However Romeo’s attitude changes later in the scene and he is cheerful again, ‘how well my comfort is revived by this’. In my opinion Romeo has a high emotional range and this could be a flaw in his personality. Meeting and falling in love with Juliet has a dramatic effect on his character. He becomes more mature and even tries to make peace with Tybalt.

    However despite his new-found maturity and tolerance of the Capulets he is highly temperamental (his mood swings). It could be argued that as a result of his high temperament, the fact that he kills Tybalt and the events that ensue from the death are his own fault.This is illustrated after Mercutio’s death, when Romeo exclaims ‘fire eyed fury be my conduct now’. He says, in his anger, that either Tybalt or himself ‘must go with him’, which of course does come true.

    This action shows his passionate-anger and one could argue that perhaps it was Romeo’s own fault that Tybalt got killed and this did not happen due to fate and destiny. Because of the chain of catastrophic events which leads to the final tragedy you could also say that Romeo is not a victim of fate but his downfall is caused by his angry and temperamental behaviour.It can be argued that Romeo is simply unlucky in the play, and that fate or his character has little to do with the outcome. You could say that it was unlucky that Romeo, a Montague, and Juliet, a Capulet, fall in love with each other.

    Juliet even says this herself, ‘Prodigious birth of love it is to me, That I must love a loathed enemy’ The audience could think it unlucky that Romeo and Juliet fell in love with each other when there must have been so many other people in Verona. I think, though, that this quotation could refer to fate but it illustrates how unlucky it would be that two people from rival families fall in love.At the Capulet party Tybalt recognises Romeo, not by his looks but by his voice, ‘this, by his voice, should be a Montague’. As the play progresses he picks a fight with Romeo and accidentally kills Mercutio.

    Perhaps Romeo was unlucky in that Tybalt recognised him. This could be fate but it is quite unlucky for Romeo because it triggers a series of events leading to the downfall of Romeo, Juliet and others. Mercutio is killed for a number of reasons but mainly because he is unaware of his best friend’s marriage to Juliet and because Romeo steps in to try to stop the fight.In lines 64-69 Romeo tells Tybalt that he ‘love thee better than thou canst devise’.

    Mercutio sees this as ‘submission’ and so he draws his sword and asks Tybalt for a fight, ‘Tybalt you rat catcher, will you walk? ‘ If Mercutio had been told that Romeo was married to Juliet and that Tybalt is now Romeo’s cousin he would not have been fighting him. In my opinion this was highly unlucky because if Romeo had enough time to make Mercutio aware of the situation he would not have died.In the aftermath of the incident Romeo kills Tybalt in a fit of anger and is banished by Prince Escalus to Mantua where he cannot see Juliet. This is the final run of bad events after Tybalt recognised him.

    Maybe it was misfortune that Tybalt recognised him and Mercutio was not told about the wedding but because of Romeo’s high temperament ‘fire-eyed fury’ it produced a string of either fated or misfortunate events leading to the death of two innocent kinsmen, Mercutio and Tybalt and also other following events.Romeo is unlucky Capulet changes his mind and decides Romeo and Juliet will marry ‘next Thursday’ also Romeo is really unlucky not to receive the Friar’s letter which meant he did not know about the plan and was misinformed by Balthazar who views the funeral. That leads to Romeo at Juliet’s bedside and he unluckily takes the potion before Juliet wakes up. The stream of events could be explained as either fate or serious bad luck.

    I think it was fate -the way the story unfolds gives the audience a feeling of inevitability about the ending, and everything that can go wrong for the lovers does go wrong.I believe that misfortune plays little part in Romeo’s untimely death and the events leading up to it, because the play has too many references to fate such as ‘fortune’s fool’ for it to be otherwise. If fate really had little to do with the outcome Romeo must be seriously unlucky. There is no doubt that fate is one of the most important factors in the tragedy.

    It is a possible reason for Romeo’s downfall and is heavily contradicted to misfortune or bad luck.Shakespeare refers throughout the play to fate “tampering with Romeo”, beginning with the dramatic device in the prologue where Romeo and Juliet are described as ‘star crossed lovers’. This cosmic imagery implies that Romeo and Juliet are fated and also are destined to suffer tragic consequences when it says afterwards that they will ‘take their life’. The prologue introduces fate to the storyline and creates a feeling of inevitability to both modern and Elizabethan audiences that the two lovers will die in the play.

    You might ask the question, why did Shakespeare reveal the ending? The reason he did it was to create dramatic irony which makes the audience know what is going to happen to the character so the play develops a characteristic of fate. Another reason why he put in a prologue and revealed the ending was to make the audience judge characters and events in the light of the final tragedy. In the play Shakespeare put in a lot of irony and to the audience what some characters say can seem quite prophetic. For example Friar Laurence said, ‘these violent delights have violent ends’.

    Later in the play when Juliet refuses to marry Paris, Lady Capulet said to her husband, ‘I would the fool were married to her grave’ and also Juliet remarked ‘my grave is likely to be my wedding bed’. Rather ominously, she also remarks that if Romeo was a bird she would kill him with ‘much cherishing’. These dramatic devices strengthen the feeling of dramatic irony because the audience knows what is going to happen from the prologue. These ominous remarks make the ending feel inevitable.

    They also lend the play a more interesting supernatural dimension.On several occasions Romeo and Juliet have premonitions. Before the Capulet party Romeo had a vision of ‘some vile forfeit of untimely death’. Juliet had a vision that she sees Romeo dead ‘in the bottom of a tomb’.

    At the start of the last act of the play Romeo said that he dreamed ‘my lady came and found me dead’. These quotations prove that fate and fortune are in the play and that they are affecting them. Those quotations were also used by Shakespeare to remind the audience that they are fated or ‘star crossed’ and they are being controlled by fate.Romeo and Juliet also have the sense that fate and fortune are controlling them, for example when Romeo left for Mantua Juliet asks ‘fortune’ to ‘be fickle’ and she hopes that fate will not ‘keep him long, but send him back’.

    This implies that Juliet believes fate and fortune has sent him away and they are controlling them, she also tells the audience that Romeo is a strong believer in fate when she said ‘what dost you with him, that is renowned for faith? ‘ This makes the audience recognise the strong belief both Romeo and Juliet have in fate and fortune.Earlier in the play, when Romeo killed Tybalt in a rush of anger he exclaimed, ‘I am fortune’s fool’; another piece of evidence of the strong belief Romeo and Juliet have of the control fate has over them. Shakespeare made many more references throughout the play to fate tampering with Romeo and Juliet. Also he used cosmic and religious imagery to emphasise the belief that fate and fortune have a hand in both Romeo and Juliet’s young deaths.

    The audience in Elizabethan times looked at zodiac signs and relied on religion to help them make sense of their lives.Shakespeare recognised this belief so he used star or cosmic imagery and religious imagery to make the impact of fate or fortune convincing. For example, before the Capulet ball Romeo has a premonition and said that there is a ‘consequence yet hanging in the stars’. This quotation tells us that he seems to foresee his own untimely death; Shakespeare used cosmic imagery in this line to imply that this is fated and also as this corresponds with the audience’s belief in the stars of the zodiac.

    This helps Shakespeare’s audience to relate to Romeo’s problems as their own.The ‘star crossed lovers’ is another cosmic image. Romeo remarks that Juliet ‘hangs upon the cheek of night’ when he first met her. He vowed by the ‘blessed moon’ when he was ‘wooing’ her.

    Finally and most importantly when Romeo’s servant Balthazar tells him that he has seen Juliet being laid to rest in the Capulet tomb he exclaimed ‘then I defy you stars! ‘ These quotations show that Shakespeare was thinking of the way his audience would have viewed things and proves that his cosmic imagery is used to emphasize the feeling of fate and its control over Romeo and Juliet.Shakespeare uses religious imagery too. Before the Capulet party Romeo is talking about fate and fortune and mentions a foreboding about that night’s events. He remarks ‘He that hath the steerage of my course direct my sail’.

    He uses poetic language describing his life as a ship and in the religious imagery he accepts his destiny and said that he hopes God (He) directs his fate. This imagery implies that there is a religious aspect to the play and also this quotation proves that Shakespeare’s religious imagery connects with fate and fortune when he said, ‘direct my sail’.Other religious imagery is used later in the play. When Romeo and Juliet are courting each other at the Capulet ball, Romeo called Juliet’s hand a ‘holy shrine’ and called her ‘dear saint’.

    He also compared his own lips in a metaphor as ‘two blushing pilgrims’. Romeo asks Juliet for a kiss using religion in his language such as forgiveness for his touch and he said that he would remove his ‘sin’ with ‘a tender kiss’ with his ‘two blushing pilgrims’ and his way of forgiveness was his ‘gentle sin’.He also said, ‘thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged’. Juliet remarks upon his imagery when she replies ‘you kiss by th’book’, thus talking back with religious imagery.

    The terms Romeo and Juliet use when they are courting each other and also the way Romeo described his foreboding proves there is a religious aspect to the play in both a light hearted tone (their speeches to each other when they were courting) and in a serious tone (when Romeo is talking of fate and fortune).Their formal use of language has a dignified pace with religious overtones and stresses the purity and sincerity and also the spirituality of their love. The duet between them is in a sonnet form and its use of religious language isolated the characters from the rest of the scene and its bustling activity. They use many more religious overtones in the balcony scene where Romeo said that her eyes could take the place of two of the ‘fairest stars in all heaven’.

    Romeo calls Juliet a saint on a number of occasions and Juliet tells Romeo that he is ‘the god of my idolatry’.With these quotations and Shakespeare’s use of language you can tell religion is a big theme in the play. In my opinion the overall structure of the play and the way the storyline unfolds produces a sense of inevitability about the conclusion, and everything that can go wrong for the lovers does go wrong. The accidental death of Mercutio sparks off a chain of events which leads to the death of Tybalt and in turn to the banishment of Romeo.

    Capulet’s decision that Juliet should wed Paris pressurises her to find a way out.What really increases the audiences feeling of inevitability is Capulets unexpected decision to move the wedding forward. Finally, the failed delivery of Friar Laurence’s message and his own late arrival at the tomb, seals the lovers ending. With all the misfortune they suffer, the cosmic and religious imagery and the references to fate and fortune and also the sense of inevitability Shakespeare put into the production you could say Shakespeare intended the theme of fate to dominate.

    As these occur directly with beliefs and lifestyles of Shakespeare’s day it could be said that Romeo is a victim of fate, or as Shakespeare said it, ‘fortune’s fool’. Time and the sense of time passing too quickly are also important themes, as well as the speed at which events happen. At first, time passes slowly as Romeo frets about Rosaline and complains that the hours are too long, commenting, ‘Sad hours seem long’. This tells the audience either Shakespearean or modern that for Romeo the hours seem long.

    Perhaps this is because Romeo was yearning for love?However for Lord Capulet the years are passing through too quickly! He muddles events and their dates. He said that he and a cousin danced at a wedding 25 years ago but actually, according to his cousin it was much earlier because the bride and groom conceived a child thirty years ago. These quotations set a theme that for some characters time is rushing past too quickly and for some, too slowly. In the balcony scene Romeo describes Juliet as a ‘winged messenger of heaven’ and vows by the ‘yonder blessed moon’ to love her.

    However Juliet worries that their love is ‘too rash, too unadvised, and too sudden’. She is not happy about making those kinds of promises that night and also worries about being ‘quickly won’. However later she suggests marriage which proves that Romeo and Juliet rush too much. Time and the sense of time passing quickly are themes repeated erratically throughout the play, where actions such as marriage are happening too quickly in a very short space of time.

    The friar complains that they are being too rash, warning them ‘these violent delights have violent ends’. This tells the audience that they are not alone in thinking they are rushing it too much and so it is a good piece of stagecraft that Shakespeare wrote in to confirm the audience’s thinking. This quotation states that no good would come of their hastiness and also in my opinion this quotation is quite prophetic, considering what ‘fate’ has in store for them.Later in the play after Romeo is banished for an impulsive action, the Friar’s messenger is delayed, so Romeo does not know the Friar’s plan and Friar Laurence himself arrives just seconds too late to stop the final tragedy.

    In my opinion the whole play seems hurried, characters rush into marriage, Romeo is banished for an impulsive action, and Capulet cannot wait to get Juliet married to Paris (moving the wedding forward). The whole play is full of speed, speed to kill, speed to love, and speed to commit suicide when life feels empty.In my opinion, time and haste is an important contributing factor to the tragedy. Romeo’s behaviour and actions are influenced by various characters in the text, most of Romeo and Juliet’s close friends and advisers contribute to their actions and possibly the outcome of the play.

    For instance Mercutio mentors Romeo, he influences Romeo to not be depressed about love when for example Romeo said that he has ‘a soul of lead’ and that he sinks under ‘love’s heavy burden’ Mercutio advises him to not burden himself for such ‘a tender thing’.With these pieces of advice from Mercutio I could infer that Mercutio is there for Romeo and always gives him advice. Also when Romeo meets Juliet and becomes more cheerful and starts making jokes with his friends Mercutio says to him, ‘why, is this better than groaning for love? ‘ This proves that Mercutio notices Romeo’s melancholy state and wanted to do something about it. Another character who advises Romeo is Benvolio; he has genuine concerns about Romeo, for instance, at the start of the play he is made aware of Romeo’s problems by Lord Montague and takes it upon himself to find out.

    So please you step aside / I’ll know his grievance, or be much denied’, this proves that Benvolio has a sense of responsibility and concern for Romeo. Benvolio tries to influence Romeo’s behaviour, he tells Romeo to forget Rosaline when he says, ‘Be ruled by me, forget to think of her’ and he also tells Romeo that ‘by giving liberty unto thine eyes; examine other beauties’ and he also tells Romeo to take some ‘new infection’ unto his eyes and ‘the rank poison of the old will die’.In these sayings, he encourages Romeo to look at other women, he also compares Rosaline and all other woman as infections either this could be interpreted as Cupid infecting Romeo with love for other woman or that he thinks differently about woman, however these quotations prove that Benvolio cares about Romeo and wants to mentor and influence him, he also says that he would teach Romeo to look at other woman and forget Rosaline when he says ‘I’ll pay that doctrine or else die in debt’.These quotations show that both Benvolio and Mercutio know Romeo’s sadness and want to help him; this is proved when both Mercutio and Benvolio convince him to go to the Capulet Ball.

    The most influential character in terms of Romeo’s behaviour is Friar Laurence. Before we meet the Friar, Romeo describes him as his ‘ghostly sire’ or in today’s terms, spiritual adviser. This tells us that to Romeo, the Friar is a father figure. When we first meet the Friar he is picking herbs early in the morning.

    As soon as Romeo comes he knows that there is something wrong.The Friar seems to know about his actions when he says ‘our Romeo hath not been in bed tonight’. Of all the characters in the play the Friar knows the most about him; he has a sense of intuition about Romeo but also recognises his character. He knows Romeo is in love with being in love when he says that he told Romeo off for doting on Rosaline instead of loving her.

    The Friar is also the person Romeo turns to when he needs help, for example when he kills Tybalt he turns to the Friar, proving that the Friar is high in Romeo’s trust.The Friar is the planner of the events that happen such as, for example in the event at the Friar’s cell the friar plans for Romeo to go and consummate his marriage to Juliet and also that Romeo should leave for Mantua and wait till the Prince calms down and allows Romeo to come back and live in Verona. However soon enough his plan goes awry. Romeo follows his advice always very closely as he trusts the Friar, and he never disobeys the advice proving Romeo’s faithfulness to the Friar.

    The Nurse as well as the Friar influence Romeo’s behaviour.An important example is in Act three, scene four where they help Romeo from his agitated state to a calm and optimistic one, ‘how well my comfort is revived by this! ‘ It is ironic however that both of them fail Romeo and Juliet because the Friar’s plan for Juliet’s fake death results in the worst possible thing that both the Friar and Romeo, including Juliet ,could have hoped for. Also the Nurse fails Romeo and Juliet and is disloyal to them when she advocates a bigamous marriage between Juliet and Paris, ‘I think it best you married with the county’.Another character who influences Romeo is Balthazar; although we only see him in the last Act of the play he influences Romeo’s actions.

    When Balthazar sees Juliet being laid to rest in the Capulet tomb he rushes to tell Romeo the news. As Balthazar does not know the Friar’s plan he thinks that Juliet is dead, so as a result of his misunderstanding Romeo travels to Mantua and kills himself on Juliet’s grave. Another character who influences Romeo’s actions and contributes to the subsequent outcome of the play is Juliet herself.Although Juliet says that their love was too ‘rash’ and too ‘sudden’ it is actually her idea that they should get married.

    She says this in the balcony scene where she said that if Romeo’s love is ‘honourable’ and that if he does ‘purpose marriage’ Romeo should send word to her. In my opinion Juliet actually encourages Romeo’s rash behaviour by that quotation because she encouraged Romeo to make a life long commitment to her. These quotations make a strong case that the outcome of the play was not as it was because of destiny but because of a series of events and actions which were advised by Romeo’s friends and family.If Benvolio and Mercutio did not convince him to go to the Capulet Ball the ending would have happened differently or if the Friar had not told Juliet to fake her own death but hide in his cell to wait till she was collected by Romeo then it would also have happened differently, if Balthazar could have talked to the Friar before he went to see Romeo, again the ending would have happened differently.

    If Juliet was not so hasty in requesting marriage and they had listened to the Friar’s advice to love more ‘moderately’ the ending would have been very different.These prove that other characters contribute to the final tragedy and also, in my opinion, Romeo’s outlook on life. Many actors and directors have interpreted the character of Romeo and the notion of fate and destiny in quite different ways. For example in Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film adaptation where the play is adapted to a modern day setting they show a glimpse of a future scene in the early stage of the film when Romeo is going to the Capulet ball.

    The audience are made to visualise Romeo’s premonition – to depict a notion of fate and fortune.Another way Baz Luhrmann interpreted the notion of fate and destiny on screen and in a modern day setting was when, at the Capulet Ball Romeo and Juliet look at each other through a fish tank to convey their destined love at first sight. In the traditional stage play the Capulet Ball was a masked event where people dressed concealing their face, and Romeo and Juliet, who were wearing masks at the time, fell in love with each other without seeing each other’s appearance illustrating that their love was meant to be.However as Baz Luhrmann was transporting the play to a modern day context he had to get rid of the masked ball but also he had to convey Romeo’s love at first sight for a woman he has not seen properly, so as to familiarise the film with destiny he made Romeo and Juliet see each other in a muffled view to emphasize the notion of fate and destiny in a not so different way that Shakespeare put in.

    The most dramatic notion of fate destiny Baz Luhrmann put into the play was at the end. After Romeo buys the poison from the apothecary, he is at the side of the unconscious Juliet who he thinks is dead.This is the traditional start of the final tragedy however Luhrmann did the ending quite differently but he also keeps to the same sense of inevitability that Shakespeare also put into the play. How Luhrmann did this was because of these series of events, Juliet is stirring when Romeo thinks she had died and he is about to take the poison.

    The audience knows that Romeo is going to die from the prologue but they cannot help but hope that he would just wait a few seconds however as fate is against them Romeo takes the poison and then notices Juliet’s alive.This is a good dramatic effect to make the audience transfixed in the film; this also as the audience knows that the ending is inevitable they still hope that fate was wrong and that before they watched Romeo take the poison maybe their destiny could be changed. This also compares to the stage version with the after-effect of Romeo and Juliet’s premonitions as they give the audience the sense of inevitability so Luhrmann keeps that notion but he also reminds the audience Shakespeare’s dramatic effect that they are fated or ‘star-crossed’, as the premonitions and also the prologue does.So in the idea of Baz Luhrmann, fate plays a vast role and is a reason for Romeo’s downfall.

    Franco Zefferrelli’s adaptation keeps closely to the play in his direction. He highlights Romeo’s defining characteristics – the negative and positive characteristics – in the scene when Romeo learns of his banishment. He keeps it very near to Romeo’s passionate side in the film, when he was highlighting Romeo’s reaction at learning that he is banished from Verona. Zefferrelli interpreted Romeo’s upset behaviour very closely, when Romeo is crying and sobbing in the Friar’s cell he is very agitated.

    This follows Romeo’s emotion in the play but his behaviour in the film highlights it to a very large extent. Both film versions highlight fate and destiny and also they highlight Romeo’s character they might intensify the concepts of either it was fate and destiny’s fault or they could intensify that Romeo’s demise was because of his own character however they both show reasons for Romeo’s downfall; the modern version relies on fate and destiny and Shakespeare’s devices to make their film interesting and also to put over their view that their tragic ending is because of fate.In the late nineteen-sixties version of the play they also put across their opinion about Romeo’s downfall but it relies more heavily on Romeo’s character than the concept of fate and fortune. So you could see there are different ideas about the main clause of Romeo’s downfall.

    In conclusion there are a number of reasons – all connected to each other – for the tragic ending of Romeo and Juliet. Firstly Romeo is a flawed character; he is highly passionate.This connects with Romeo’s hastiness and impulsiveness which both lead to his downfall, for example his rush to die at the Capulet tomb because all seemed lost. However Shakespeare makes many references to fate and fortune and also put in dramatic devices such as the prologue to show the influence of fate and destiny to his audience and as everything for the lovers goes wrong it could be said that Romeo is a victim of fate.

    Romeo is, in my opinion a victim of fate, however there are other causes of his downfall such as his passion and his haste and impulsiveness that also proves that his character is a strong cause of his demise but there are many references to fate and fortune that Shakespeare put into the performance and as Shakespeare wanted his audience to recognise the problems the couple go through and put it into the context of the time he lives in he put in religious and cosmic imagery to make the play more appealing and to emphasise the nature of the play, fate and destiny.Various film makers imply that Romeo is a victim of fate, for example Baz Luhrmann who at the tragic scene at the end puts over Shakespeare’s feeling of inevitability by making Romeo’s death seems inevitable in the same way as the prologue does.However his downfall has also been helped by other characters for example if Benvolio had not convinced him to go to the Capulet Ball he would have been alive and also if Lord Capulet had not hastened the bigamous marriage Juliet would not have taken the poison so soon and there would have been more time for the messenger to reach Romeo and warn him about the plan the priest made as Juliet’s main influence!The influence the other characters have over the couple is highly influential in their destiny. Another concept is time the characters are (as the audience guess) quite hasty to emphasize this, the action of the play takes place over only three days so you could see how this affects Romeos demise.

    So in conclusion Romeo is a victim of fate to a large extent however his passion and also his haste which is evident throughout the play in his and others actions play a big part in Romeo’s downfall.There is a social and moral significance to the play – how a pointless feud can affect, harm and even kill young innocent people growing up in the heart of it. It also has a philosophical significance that we should learn from Capulet’s and Montague’s mistakes and forgive like they did at the end of the play. All the clauses put together in my opinion make the sense of inevitability which is also intensified by several parts of the play such as the prologue for those reasons it makes Romeo’s demise seem inevitable or fated so he really is ‘Fortunes Fool’.

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    ‘I am fortune’s fool’ – to what extent is Romeo a victim of fate?. (2017, Nov 04). Retrieved from

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