Fate, you can call it what you like. Destiny, Gods will, fortune, the stars, coincidence. But Shakespeare has always referred to fate as “hanging in the stars”. What people back in 1595 believed was that Your life is in the control of god and you can’t change your destiny. “But he that hath the steerage of my course,. direct my sail” was a quote made by Romeo on the night he met Juliet. The prologue covers what happens in the play and shows the fate of Romeo and Juliet before the play even begins the “death-mark’d” quote in the ninth line states the tragic fate of Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare presents the aspects of fate by bringing people together. By having examples of fate in Romeo and Juliet it helps to carry on the plot of the play.

Romeo and Juliet were never just “ment to be” they were from two different families who have such hatred for each other they would never accept a marriage of different families. Shakespeare wanted to bring across in the play that it was fate When Rosaline and Romeo didn’t work out because it made Romeo an individual. The first coincidence that occurs which I believe is one of the most important examples of fate is when Capulet sends an illiterate servant with the party invitation, the servant is walking down a street which by fate Romeo and Benvolio are walking up and asks Romeo to read what the invitation says, then the servant invites them to the party not knowing at all that they are Montague’s. That is a perfect example of fate Shakespeare has communicated through the play, because if Romeo hadn’t helped the servant he would have never gone to the party and therefore he probably wouldn’t have met Juliet.

Further along in the play When Tybalt kills Mercutio, Mercutio exists and his final words curse the play ” May a plague strike both your families!… curse your families!” was it fate that Mercutio said those words, and it became a reality?                                                                           The most tragic example of fate in my eyes was when Friar john couldn’t make it in time to give Romeo the message that Juliet wasnt dead before Balthasar got to Romeo. By fate he got held up in quarantine because a plague had spread, because of this unfortunate occurrence Romeo really did believe Juliet was dead… He went to the Apothecary to plead for a poison that with one drop could kill 20 men. He felt he had no other choice. He ran with the poison in his hand to The Capulets tomb where Juliet was innocently sleeping. He said his final words before drinking the poison and falling dead beside Juliet. Only seconds after Romeo had passed Juliet woke from her sleep only to find her one true love dead beside her. Shakespeare created this scene in the play to be very dramatic and suspense building to the viewers because if Juliet had only awoken just a little earlier Romeo and Juliet would have had a happily ever after.

Shakespeare communicated Fate in other ways aswell, for example his use of metaphors to symbolise what the characters are thinking and what their destiny may turn out to be. Shakespeare has kept referring back to a sail, Romeo talked about himself as the sail and that God was steering him on this corse. He then refered to it again at the end of the play just before he drank the poison as “Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark!” Romeo is explaining he feels as if God has run his sail into the rocks. “The stars” is another example, it was first used in the prologue “Star-crossed lovers” and again when he says “Some coincidence yet hanging in the stars” and finally “then I defy you, stars!” this Metaphor is used in a strong way because when he refers to “the stars” he is referring to fate. and that he is trusting “the stars” with his destiny and then he defies fate by killing himself.

Romeo and Juliet really was one of the most tragic plays ever written. Shakespeare was very creative in the way he presented fate. Things have changed from back when Shakespeare was alive to the modern day. People in our world today can have the choice whether they believe God has set your path for you, or your life is completely free-will and everyone accepts what ever you believe. Sadly when Romeo and Juliet lived their society wasnt as accepting. if the play had been written during our day the outcome may have been very different from the tragedy it was.

Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. hi Mr Waugh. is the balcony scene an example of fate? thanks Hayley

    • Hi Hayley,

      The scene as a whole isn’t ‘an example of fate’, however if you wanted to make a reference to it in your essay, it’s definitely where the two ‘lovers’ declare their love for each other and resolve to marry. This means that they are enacting the prediction given by the Chorus in the prologue when he says “Two star-crossed lovers take their life” – it’s important to show their feelings for each other are strong, but I don’t think there are any direct or oblique references to fate in the script of this scene.

  2. Writing: 5B
    Reading: 5P


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