The Control of Fate in and on Romeo and Juliet
Whether the entire universe composed of its brilliant cosmos and artful living beings are all wound into an intricate pattern of fibrous fates and compassion is beyond present knowledge, but the power and influence this abstract concept has on the worldly desires of humans is unimaginable. Fate is felt like an ornate cloak of unknowing over their heads and drives them to do the unthinkable as they strive to escape it or manipulate it, rather than disregarding its existence. The effects of this supposed cloak are felt on Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo and Juliet as they feel its pressure on their love, and their response to this pressure is to be impulsive, befitting their teenage personas. Having been born in the midst of a powerful feud between the two leading families of Verona, the Montagues and the Capulets, an interpersonal relationship between the two of them had been a cruel trick from the start.
The effect of fate on love, conveyed through Romeo and Juliet, expresses the theme that fate’s influence exhibits control over human happiness, which can be achieved by feelings of love. Throughout the play, allusions to the lovers’ unfortunate end are made and the probable preordained demise waiting ahead of them stimulate the characters to generally exhaust their own happiness. In the prologue of the play, the Chorus foredooms, “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes / A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life” (1.Prologue.4-5). Shakespeare introduces fate as an antagonist to their love from the beginning through the term “star-crossed.” This references the stars, a metaphor to fate in accordance with their belief that the stars dictated fate. Since Shakespeare chooses to start their story with their cursed end, the main purpose of the story is not to be a tragedy or drama for the audience to empathize with, but rather an insinuation to how fate influences day-to-day decisions and a warning for the audience that they should break free of the binding mind control of fate as to not end up unhappy like Romeo and Juliet.
He uses love as a metaphor for happiness to this end, since Romeo had said, “Some consequence yet hanging in the stars / Shall bitterly begin his fearful date / By some vile forfeit of untimely death” just prior to him meeting Juliet, his love (1.4.109-110, 113). Again, stars are referenced as Romeo discusses his bad luck. The young age of Romeo and Juliet serves as evidence that when young in age, the contingencies of the future looms since later years in life are usually dictated by the choices made early. Their choice was to love each other, but due to the crushing pressure of possible doom, they rushed into reaching a permanence to their love (through immediate marriage) in the name of good luck and jeopardized their happiness. The start of fate’s unsympathetic trials began with Mercutio where Romeo and Juliet’s overarching conflict of feuding families came into play. As a result of the said feud, Mercutio is stabbed in a duel and dies, cursing the families immediately before, “I am hurt. / A plague o’ both your houses! I am sped” (3.1.87-88). He wishes doom, spelling out the tragic fates of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet.
The death of Mercutio intensifies acrimony between the families and worsens the lovers’ situation. Through constant reference to fate and impending death, Shakespeare creates an atmosphere of expectancy for pain. However, as they actually reach said pain, the audience sees Romeo and Juliet attempt to lash out at their fate, albeit severing happiness from themselves in favor of choosing a cause. Romeo and Juliet’s attempts to dissent their fates of doomed love transcend their will to live and for the purpose of being with each other at least in death, they kill themselves as an act of damning fate. When Romeo is misinformed of Juliet’s death and does not hear that she is actually alive, he swears he will defy fate, “Is it e’en so? Then I defy you, stars!” (5.1.24). Pursuant to his swear that he would rebel against fate, he enters Juliet’s tomb and right before drinking poison and killing himself, declares,“...Oh, here / Will I set up my everlasting rest, / And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars / From this world-wearied flesh…” (5.3.109-112). Again, he references the stars and conveys how he lets fate sway him into impulsive behavior, as Juliet wakes up moments after his death. Romeo feels trapped by his fate as a Montague in love with a Capulet and decides to end his fate by killing himself by her side. One can assume that he lost sight of happiness and pursued love as became his fate as a romantic yet tragic lover boy who paid too much attention to a seemingly negative fate defined by vehemently opposing families. Romeo and Juliet ends with both lovers dead and the families willing to rekindle peace after seeing the effects of their feud on the fate of those who are blind to love.
Thus, the fate of Romeo and Juliet ends in their demise, as per fate’s influence on young minds. Noteworthily, the happenstance of Romeo and Juliet’s love and fate could have been a small passageway of the anthill known as the history of Verona, a small hole on their part but just a part of the story of a time that goes on.
However, their individual end shows the influence of fate on humans, the control the notion itself has on whether humans can be happy about their station in life. The love they express for each other in relation to their choices conveys the complexity of how love achieves happiness and its strange relationship with fate. They suggest that perhaps, love is the fate of all that seek happiness because the love of things, people, and/or places can measure happiness. For Romeo and Juliet, their love for each other was so great they were content with giving up other happiness and ended their lives knowing love was enough solace to their fate.