Essay on fate: Romeo and Juliet
This essay is on William Shakespeare’s use of fate in the play Romeo and Juliet It will cover some of Shakespeare’s main uses of fate; it will also explain why his uses were effective and how he used them. By the end of this essay, you will have a clear sense of how the play-writer uses fate to convey a religious and meaningful idea of an outcome being inevitable, and already decided by a higher being or force (God). Romeo and Juliet is undoubtedly one of the best plays ever wrote, with fate being an important part of what earned it this accolade.
In the Elizabethan times religion had a key part to play in the lives of most people, therefore Shakespeare made Romeo and Juliet very religious. Most of the references to fate involved the Christian religion and mentioned God in some way. There are many examples of when Shakespeare did this but one that stood out was when Romeo challenged “I defy you, stars!”. This is when Romeo is about to take his own life and he begins to disown God despite his loyalty throughout the play. This created an immense amount of drama, because disowning God at that period in history would have been unheard of and a big deal. It is this use of religion and the consequent impact that Shakespeare effected so well and is why fate references mentioning God were a very important part of his playwriting.
Metaphors were Shakespeare’s main way of talking about fate because he could only communicate through the voices of the characters in the play. The metaphors he used were usually extended but stuck to one metaphoric subject for example:
From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death!
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavory guide!
Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark!
Here’s to my love!
Through out this whole paragraph Shakespeare continues one sea related theme. This shows how deep Shakespeare goes into one piece of speech. This metaphor talks about God leading Romeo to his death after Romeo putting his life in God’s hands and trusting him.Using metaphors to talk about fate was at Shakespeare’s advantage because he could be very poetic and show off his language skills while going deep into fate and characters feelings.
In this play Shakespeare uses a technique that adds suspense while simultaneously referencing to fate. This technique is destined delays. An example of this is when Friar John is unable to pass through a village to give a message to Romeo, because the village was full of a contagious disease. This creates a huge sense of dramatic irony, where the audience knows that Romeo needs the letter to get to him on time, but Romeo is completely unaware that any of this is going on. It also creates suspense because this message holds the life of Romeo and Juliet in it. Also because in the normal pattern of a play everything turns out alright in the end, but in this play people know it ends in a tragedy the suspense is increased. This is a strong fate reference because even though things should be going well coincidental things keep on happening to prevent the wanted out come.
In Romeo and Juliet there is a lot of romance, and like fate, it is a key element of the play. Romance is still used in modern day films and has been popular for a long time, so Shakespeare took advantage of this fact and made romantic fate references.
One of these was:
JULIET (gesturing towards Romeo)
What’s he that follows there, that would not dance?
I know not.
Go ask his name: if he be married.
My grave is like to be my wedding bed.
Using romance while referring to fate meant that the story could stick to a main and entertaining story that everyone could enjoy, whilst keeping a deep background message.
During the play there are many times when fate seems to cause a series of events to control the outcome of Romeo and Juliet’s lives, but there is also times when fate seems to control characters actions. A time when this happened was when Romeo tries to stop the fight between Tybalt and Mercutio, but Mercutio dies anyway. This causes Romeo to kill Tybalt. It seemed that fate forced Romeo to kill Tybalt, and for not only one, but two people to die. Romeo even says that he was controlled by fate, through stating “I am fortunes fool!”.
There are many references to fate throughout Shakespeare’s work; listed are a few observations that evidence his use of different concepts of fate. For instance, I have highlighted examples of religion in fate, metaphoric fate, fate that changes the course of events, romance in fate and fate that controls people’s actions. Even within these examples there are some subtle references and some more obvious ones, this displays the skill and depth of Shakespeare’s writing, all adding to the viewers enjoyment and intrigue. This is how William Shakespeare explores the idea of fate in his play Romeo and Juliet.