The story of Romeo and Juliet, set in the sixteenth century, inevitably ended in tragedy. This was not all due to the control of the stars, otherwise known as, and generally believed in at the time, as fate. “A pair of star-crossed lovers.” (Prologue, line 6.) This quote is found at the beginning of the play and accurately describes Romeo and Juliet; it says that the lovers were in a predicament from the beginning because of being doomed by fate. It is the main meaning of the prologue, because it verbalizes that the end was inevitable and that fate controlled the eventual outcomes.
Fate may play a large part in the couple’s story, but so does choice, chance and characters. All of these components go together to make up the eventual outcome. Friar Laurence chooses to try to help reconcile the two feuding families by marrying two of their offspring. It is by chance that Friar John could not deliver the note to Romeo due to him being put into quarantine at the last moment, leaving Romeo unaware of Juliet’s fake state of death. Finally, the personalities of the characters made the ending unavoidable, by acting in their own way according to how their character is.
Shakespeare used the belief of fate from the audience to introduce drama into the character’s lives and their actions. The audience as a whole accepted fate as part of their own lifestyles, so therefore Shakespeare could easily manipulate this belief to make a certain action happen, and put it down to fate, this could then get him a desired effect. Some, I think were even led by these beliefs to change their actions, either to go with or rebel against the ‘fate’, which had been chosen for them. Romeo chooses to oppose fate when it comes to being kept away from his beloved Juliet, “Then I defy you stars.” (Act5, Scene1, Line24.) says Romeo as he decided not to succumb to what seemed destined to be; Romeo decides to take his life when he cannot spend it by Juliet’s side. This is where the other themes merge with fate to complete the ultimate outcome. It is not at any point in the story, clear what theme is being displayed, and it is normally a mixture of fate and another one theme or more. The chance of events also comes into the different outcome; if the chance of things had been different then this might have allowed proceedings to change.
It was not entirely because of fate or choice that Mercutio was killed by Tybalt, by chance more than anything else, that as Romeo intervened, Tybalt was able to stab Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, “I thought it all for the best.” (Act3, Scene1, Line 104.) Was what Romeo desperately said, whilst trying to make amends for his best friends death. It shows Romeo’s desperation after realising that the fault was mainly on his part that someone had died. Romeo did not mean for Mercutio to be killed, it was an accident. It may have been by chance that Tybalt killed Mercutio due to Romeo, but Romeo choose to try and intervene, therefore changing the future.
Romeo’s character affects the turn of events as he forgets his calm resolve and chooses to let “fire-eyed fury be my conduct now! (Act3, Scene1, Lines119-120). This meant that he allowed his character to control his conduct. Like usual, Romeo was hotheaded and passionate about his decision.
Romeo choose to take revenge for Mercutio’s death, and possibly to deal with his own guilt surrounding the events. He does this by ultimately deciding to murder Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, and by this point in the play, his own cousin. In his fit of rage, Romeo gave himself the future of banishment, making the lovers’ outlook even bleaker. He knew the consequence of disrupting the peace in the town of fair Verona. For the Prince warned them all what will happen to the people involved in the next brawl, “If ever you disturb our streets again, / Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.” (Act1, Scene1, Line96-97.) Even though knowing this, Romeo still carried on and killed Tybalt, not caring for the outcome of his or anybody else’s future. This was a downfall of his character coming through in the story, he was hasty whilst making this decision, and later regretted doing it because of the consequences. Although he could not think about that while he was still reeling in anger for Mercuitio’s death. Therefore, it was his choice to make; he either was killed, or exiled himself, “Mercutio’s soul is not but a little way above our heads, / Staying for thine to keep him company.” (Act3, Scene1, Line126-128)
Romeo was angry, and knew in his mind he was definitely going to kill Tybalt because he was sure that Tybalt’s soul would be travelling with Mercutio’s, Mercutio was dead, therefore meaning that according to Romeo there was only one outcome; Tybalt was to die. Romeo could act impulsively and was impetuous; this allowed his character to kill Tybalt with his wrath. He did this without really thinking of the consequences. All the character’s personalities changed their actions and the outcomes.
Romeo did not really change throughout the play, his character remained emotional and spontaneous. He makes rash decisions and does not really think about anything surrounding the rest of the events involved, past, present or future. This contributes to him killing himself by his what he though to be his dead wife’s body. On the other hand, Juliet matures and gains the strength to rebel against her family, which she would not have dared think about doing nearer to the beginning,
I will not marry yet; and when I do, I swear
It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,
Rather than Paris.
(Act3, Scene5, Line121-123.)
Her standing up to her father about marrying Paris shows her maturity and courage. Juliet refuses the arranged marriage when her father informs her of the plans She demonstrates her hatred of the forthcoming events by saying she would sooner marry her supposed enemy, but whom we know is her secret husband, before she would marry Paris. Being confronted with a thirteen-year-old girl soon to be part of an arranged marriage, the audience would not have been shocked, as people in the western culture may be today. Although they probably would have been surprised by her rebellion against her father’s decision. Her father’s choice to try and arrange for he marriage to Paris only drives her further on in her plight to living with her husband, Romeo, and therefore pushes her into putting herself into a state of living death. This eventually created dead ‘star-crossed lovers’. The age of the couple may also have affected the way they conducted their selves, not only does Romeo and Juliet’s characters influence the ending, but so does nearly every other character in the whole anecdote. Everything contributes to the final, inevitable ending.
In conclusion, Romeo and Juliet’s ending was inevitable, but it cannot all be justified by fate. As proven by the evidence and explanations of the quotes, other components are involved, such as choice, chance and character. They all played large parts in the inescapable ending. The belief in fate did play a central part in controlling the different outcomes, but it was not the only theme involved.