How does William Shakespeare explore the idea of fate in his play Romeo and Juliet?

Romeo and Juliet, a tale of romance, revenge, and tragedy all controlled by fate. In the Elizabethan era Christianity was pursued by many citizens, which had people believing that God had set out their life for them. William Shakespeare shows fate through the story of an ancient feud between two families which leads their children to commit suicide because of love. Fate is shown by the language used, such as metaphors, it is also presented by the plot and the co-incidence that follow in the script as well as the Iambic Pentameter, and the prologue. All of this was used in the play of Romeo and Juliet.

The concept of fate in Romeo and Juliet was presented by the language used. A metaphor is a figure of speech relating a word or phrase to an object.. The first uses of metaphor come in Act 1 Scene 4 when Romeo states “But he that hath the steerage of my course, Direct my sail.” referring to Romeo as “Sail” which is being controlled by “he” who is God. This reference that Romeo is a Sail on a boat and God is the captain steering this boat, is used very often to strengthen the idea that god is controlling their life. Another portrayal of metaphor is in Act 2 Scene 2 when Romeo speaks to Juliet and announces his love to her, he compares her to the sun “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!” he explains Juliet as the sun because of her bright beauty. A metaphor is a simple piece use of text but can put a huge impact on the portrayal of the story.

Another portrayal of fate is through Shakespeare series of events and the co-incidences that follow. This relates to the Elizabethan era (1558-1603) which when a co-incidence occurred the society believed that it was a sign from God. An event where co-incidence takes place in Romeo and Juliet is when Rosaline rejects Romeo to love, Because of her vow of chastity. This causes Romeo to be depressed. Later on when Romeo and Benvolio randomly meet the Capulets servant on the street of verona he invites them to come to the party because Romeo reads out the invitations the servant has to deliver because of his disability to read. Benvolio jumps at the offer and suggests that they should go so Romeo could meet new attractive women better than Rosaline “That I will show you shining at the feast, And she shall scant show well that now shows best”. Romeo agrees to go but only because he thinks Rosaline may be there.. But when they get inside the Party Romeo falls in love with the Capulet’s daughter Juliet. This coincidence shows that if Rosaline did not reject Romeo he would have never gone to the party and met Juliet. The co-incidences of the play influence the rest of the story. Making it definite that Romeo and Juliet will fall in love and commit suicide together. When Benvolio and Romeo do meet the servant  another coincidence occurs. This servant was sent out to give the invitations to the Capulet’s party, but he can not read so while going along the street trying to find someone to read the invitation. he finds Romeo and Benvolio who then are invited to the party after they read the invitations, to him. “If you not of the house of Montagues, I pray come and crush a cup of wine.” This event not happening would have made Romeo would never have gone to the party to then meet Juliet. Without these coincidences, this would ruin the domino effect. The story of Romeo and Juliet is the domino line and if something is taken out of the story the rest would have never happened thus the domino effect.

The Iambic Pentameter. This meter follows the storyline and the speech of the characters. This meter shows fate in some aspects. William Shakespeare is famous for using the Iambic pentameter in his plays. The Iambic Pentameter is a way of rhyming sonnet lines in ten syllables, but there are also versions of unrhymed iambic pentameter for example “Macbeth” another one of Shakespeare’s plays. The syllables in the meter alternate between stressed (DUM) and unstressed (de). Normally in Shakespeare’s plays, higher class characters speak in iambic pentameter and lower class characters speak normally (prose). The Iambic Pentameter has a stressed to an unstressed rhythm. An effect where an iambic pentameter can be related to is the Butterfly Effect. The butterfly effect is a theory where a small occurrence can change the course of the universe. This relates to fate when Romeo reads out the invitations the servant had, which then causes him to go to the party, fall in love with Juliet, marry her, and finally kill himself alongside her. Romeo could not have read the invitations and could have kept on walking but he didn’t and we may not no why but that’s fate.

Finally the prologue. The prologue is mentioned at the start of Romeo and Juliet to give the audience extra information on the story. Shakespeare uses this technique to give brief information about the story. Fate can be hidden in the script but the prologue is a very big indication of fate. The prologue sets up the idea of what is going to happen in the play but lets the audience experience the background of the prologue and lets them find out the reasons of why two lovers that their life. Shakespeare states in the prologue that “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life” telling the audience that a pair of lovers take their life but when the audience experiences the play they see the occurrence of fate that leads them to this. The term “star-crosse’d” refers back to the Elizabethan Era. most believed that their fate was almost predetermined and believed that their life was partly determined by the stars and planet. The meaning of crossed refers to that their fate has been crossed so that Romeo and Juliet will indefinitely end up together in some way.

William Shakespeare is one of the most influential writers ever, he shows the idea of fate extremely well in Romeo and Juliet. Showing that the characters did not choose their path but were lead to them through the will of god. Fate was repetitively shown in hidden ways through the techniques of William Shakespeare, like alliteration, metaphor and many more. This gives the audience many different emotions throughout the play like grief, suspense, sorrow, fear, relief and even excitement can be expressed through the tale of Romeo and Juliet. Do you think Fate is real and we are just characters being controlled by god or is it we have free will to our lives?


One Comment

  1. Reading: 6A – Confident and thorough examination of a range of sophisticated dramatic and language effects
    Writing 6P – Straight-forward, well-organised and clear analysis, sometimes hampered by laboured syntax.


Respond now!