“We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.” -William Shakespeare. In the poem of Romeo and Juliet written by William Shakespeare, the main characters, Romeo and Juliet, described as “star-crossed lovers”, die tragically. In the plot, the Capulet and Montague families have had an ancient grudge against each other which creates a storm of social pressure. This pressure fell onto Romeo and Juliet’s shoulders but they refused to bend and break by going with their gut feeling. Though, they did make their own choices, the story of Romeo and Juliet is controlled by fate over free will because of Juliet’s relationship to her father, the build-up of misunderstandings, and the resolve that followed their death.
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Juliet’s daughter-father relationship was in accustom in the Middle Ages (1300s); it was restrictive and gave no leeway and whatever says, goes. An example of this relationship is when Lord Capulet makes a promise to Paris without consolidating it to Juliet. “Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender of my child’s love. I think she will be ruled in all respects by me” (III.iv.13-15). This notes that Juliet had to go with what her father chose as her partner. As the inferior, she could not disobey his decisions. “Graze where you will, you shall not house with me” (III.iv.200). When Juliet respectively declines the Capulet’s authority over her marriage, this is the expected reaction that she would get from a usually submissive relationship. His words were the final say and they were like unmovable mountains. “Monday, haha! Well, Wednesday is too soon. O’ Thursday let it be” (III.iv.22-23). He gave no consideration to the details around him, including Juliet’s true reason to her grief. Because of Juliet’s relationship to her father, the pressures added more to the weight on her shoulders that was already there.
The build-up of misunderstandings was also not Romeo and Juliet’s fault. The letter being delivered to Romeo was cancelled. “I could not send it-here it is again-nor get a messenger to bring it to thee, so fearful were they of infection” (V.ii.14-16). In the thirteen hundreds, there was an epidemic disease called the Bubonic Plague also known as the Black Death. This was nowhere near in the control of Romeo and Juliet as this disease was occurring all around the eastern hemisphere. Another mishap was Balthasar’s message to Romeo. “Her body sleeps in Capel’s monument, and her immortal part with angels lives” (V.i.19-20). Having no letter, it was only natural for him to do a report on what information he stumbled upon which was Juliet being laid in the cemetery. There was also Romeo finding Juliet (looking) dead. “O my love, my wife, death that hath sucked the honey of thy breath” (V.iii.92). Having received no information on what was really going on, Romeo could only believe in what was logical and seeing her laid in a tomb confirmed the logical thought. These mishaps were not at all based on Romeo’s and Juliet’s choices.
As a conclusion to the tragedy, there was a resolve, a sad indicator that Romeo’s and Juliet’s fate were meant to be. All parties (Montague, Capulets, and kindred of Prince Escalus) had equal number of deaths; everyone had two losses. For the Montague party, it was Lady Montague and Romeo, in the Capulets, Tybalt and Juliet, and Mercutio and Paris for the prince. This was important because everyone knew that they were even and it was not necessary for any more deaths. Prince Escalus took blame on himself, and it’s plausible that the others did as well. “Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague! See what scourge is laid upon your hate, that heaven finds means to kill your joys with love! And I, for winking at your discords too, have lost a brace of kinsman” (V.iii.301-305). The Prince is saying that because of their hate and his ignorance, their children are dead; he doesn’t blame the love that formed between Romeo and Juliet. Ancient grudges can’t always last forever as the Capulets and Montagues agreed to stop their fighting (better later than never). “O brother Montague, give me thy hand. This is my daughter’s jointure, for no more can I demand” (V.iii.296-298). They offer to settle it once and for all by offering the most personal gift. Without Romeo’s and Juliet’s death, the Prince, Montagues and Capulets would not have found an end to their conflict and they would not have been able to humbly reflect on their actions.
Romeo and Juliet loved each other very much but it was impossible to bring all these variables under control. Their choices weren’t necessarily free will because it all boiled down to one option and it was most of the time something crazy, like drinking a death potion. Being written by William Shakespeare, their whole fate was in the hands of him. He was the puppeteer bringing his puppets to life. He wanted this to be saddening, so he made it that way by mixing in the emotions of stress, love, and loss. “For never was a story more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
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