The story of Romeo and Juliet is an inevitable tragedy. Many events take place, which are quite detrimental to the love Romeo and Juliet have for one another. By mentioning marriage and death together, Shakespeare foreshadows Romeo and Juliet’s tragic ending. From the very beginning of the play throughout and to the end, there has always been the intent of a tragedy, and Shakespeare uses much dramatic irony to express this. In Act I, just upon meeting Romeo, Juliet speaks of her grave in the same context as her wedding.
When Capulet’s party is breaking up in Act I scene V, Juliet sends her Nurse to find out Romeo’s name. Juliet has already decided, “If he be married. My grave is like to be my wedding bed” (1.5.135). She is saying that if Romeo is married, she will die unmarried. Without even knowing if her feelings are mutual she decides she will marry none other but Romeo. She is unknowingly foreshadowing her fate, in which her grave does become her wedding bed. The same night, when Romeo comes to visit Juliet, she expresses her fear for Romeo’s safety. Romeo replies “Life were better ended by their hate, Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love” (2.2.77-78). He is willing to die to know he has her love, than for her not to love him, but die later on. In the same scene, Juliet tells Romeo “Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing” (2.2.183) Juliet feels she has so much love for Romeo that she feels that she might just love him to death. Juliet is willing to fake her death in order to remain married to only Romeo, even if it results in death to society.
Lady Capulet gives Juliet what she thinks to be the joyous news of Paris having her hand in marriage. Capulet arrives, expecting to find his daughter excited at the news. When he finds Juliet upset, he asks his wife what has happened. She replies that she has given her the news and that Juliet is a fool for not accepting it. “I would the fool were married to her grave!” (3.5.140). This is another reference to Juliet being dead to society, but very much alive to Romeo. Juliet asks her mother to not make her marry Paris. “O, sweet my mother, cast me not away! Delay this marriage for a month, a week . Or, if you do not, make the bridal bed . In that dim monument where Tybalt lies” (3.5.198-201). Juliet again foreshadows her wedding bed to be her bridal bed, which inevitably does happen.
Once Romeo hears news of his wife’s death, Romeo decides he’d sooner die, than live without Juliet’s love. He speaks saying “Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night” (5.1.34). He uses the word lie in two ways, lie as in death, and lie as a husband would with his wife. It is apparent that his love is stronger than death. . When he is in the tomb Romeo seems to have made a ritual. First he makes his vow, in which he promises to love her forever, not just “until death do us part”: “I still will stay with thee; And never from this palace of dim night . Depart again” (5.3.106-108). Then comes the kissing of the bride. Romeo then bids farewell, and proceed to drink the poisen. He says, “Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you . The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss . A dateless bargain to engrossing death!” (5.3.115), and together they die, for each others love. Not only do Romeo and Juliet foreshadow their death, but the words spoken by all around them shows of their tragic ending. Shakespeare foreshadows the story of Romeo and Juliet in every context of the play, and quite strongly by the mention of marriage and death. “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.” (Prologue 5-8)
- Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. New York: The Folger Shakespeare Library