In the famous play, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare wrote, “These violent delights have violent ends.” Romeo and Juliet is a tragic love story using the idea of the hand of fate by William Shakespeare. The story is about two families; the Montague’s and the Capulet’s who have an ancient grudge between them and the only way to fix it is the inevitable death of one of their children. This essay will go into more detail about how Shakespeare portrayed fate in multiple ways such as the use of coincidence, premonition, prologue, and metaphor to help the reader or viewer get a better understanding of the play.
One way Shakespeare displays the idea of fate is by using coincidence’s throughout the play to show that the characters believed that God made things happen for a reason. One of the most common coincidence scenes is in Act one scene two when Capulets servant, Peter goes out into the streets of Verona and coincidently comes across Romeo and Benvolio. He asks them if they can read and Romeo reads out the list of names to go to the party. Peter says “My master is the great rich Capulet, and if you be not of the house of Montague, I pray come and crush a cup of wine. Rest you merry!” Romeo see’s Rosaline’s name and Benvolio convinces him to go because there are other girls better than Rosaline. At the party, this is where Romeo met Juliet so if Romeo and Benvolio weren’t in the street they wouldn’t have gone to the party and Tybalt hadn’t have seen Romeo, so the feud wouldn’t have begun. Ultimately, this was the start of the end for Romeo and Juliet.
In Act one, scene four, Romeo, Benvolio, and Mercutio are walking towards the masquerade at the Capulets mansion. Romeo tells them he had a premonition the night before and suggests not to go. Romeo says ‘for my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars…” Romeo means that God is steering him in the wrong direction and his consequence is death. Mercutio dismisses Romeo’s caution and calls it a “vain fantasy” This ending up happening. How did Romeo know? We leave answer that to fate. The prologue of the play also displays fate.
The prologue of the play tells the audience or reader what is going to happen to the characters. The idea of the hand of fate comes in at the very beginning in the prologue when Shakespeare says “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;” This line suggests that Romeo and Juliet were going to die, and the events that occurred was their fate set out by God. The events that happened was already set out for them before it even happened and the audience or reader knows it is going to happen, they just don’t know when; this is called dramatic irony.
Another way Shakespeare portrayed fate in Romeo and Juliet is by using metaphors. In Act two, scene three, Friar Lawrence says “Virtue itself turns vice being misapplied, and vice sometime’s by action dignified”. The Friar is referring to a flower, suggesting that within a flower lies both poison and medicine; similarly to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Something has the potential to make a situation for better or for worse and in this case, the two lovers deaths were tragic but at the same time brought relief and peace to Verona by bringing their two families together.
Romeo and Juliet is a tragic love story using the hand of fate. Shakespeare demonstrates fate by using multiple methods such as coincidence, premonition, metaphor, and prologue. These show that Romeo and Juliet’s fate was controlled by God and that small actions can have a big outcome.