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Are Romeo and Juliet Their Own Harbingers of Death?

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Romeo And Juliet Are Their Own Harbingers Of Death

The tragedy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet had been brought upon by many events and characters in the story, but he makes sure the readers know that only two characters can shoulder the blame for the tragedy. Romeo and Juliet brought forth their own destiny; although the fray included a mix of other characters, Romeo and Juliet’s actions remained their own. These two lovers were their own undoing, and in the name of love, love was destroyed. The Capulet’s, and the Montagues’ feud, Friar’s blind faith, and finally the unwavering love Romeo and Juliet had for one another were all catalysts for the great tragedy.

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Many would argue that the tragedy would never have happened if the two families were not feuding anyway. That the Capulet’s and the Montagues’ own revulsion for each other caused the end of their children, and that all of this could have been avoided if only their love was not forbidden. Old Capulet even says it himself, “poor sacrifices of our enmity.” ( 5.3 315) He states in a sorrowful manner right after Romeo and Juliet’s death. By this he means to express his regret over the feud, which he understands is the reason why their children died. Yes, Romeo and Juliet would not have needed to kill themselves if they had not been feuding, that is true, but not the cause of their death.

Although Romeo and Juliet’s parents’ feud was certainly a factor in their demise, it was not the main reason. If the families were not at each other’s throats, then it could be assumed that Rosaline would have accepted Romeo’s love. In which Romeo would never have even loved Juliet, or could have fallen in love with her and taken up a secret affair with her behind Rosaline’s back. Such an act would surely tear both families apart, causing the inevitable feud and maybe even the star-crossed lover’s deaths once more. Romeo is definitely smitten with Rosaline, which he shows when he recites his own poem and states, “She hath Dian’s wit, And, in strong proof of chastity well arm’d, From love’s weak childish bow she lives unharmed. She will not stay the siege of loving terms, Nor bide th’ encounter of assailing eyes, Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold.”(1.1.216-222;) His opinion of her is pretty high, and he speaks like a smitten man even when she isn’t interested in him, so perhaps if she was then the outcome would be different.

Friar Lawrence is another character that some would claim guilty of being the reason for Romeo and Juliet’s death. He marries them without their parent’s consent, he doesn’t tell anyone about it, he gives Juliet the poison, his letter is delivered late. All of which are excellent reasons to hold him accountable for the unfortunate end of Romeo and Juliet’s story. Even the Friar was hesitant to indulge Romeo in what he described as, “violent delights.” For he knew that they would have, “violent ends.” (2.6) Although even Romeo and Juliet had moments of clarity, where they were hesitant to proceed with their hasty actions, they were children. Such mistakes could be excused for a child; however not for an adult. Friar had several instances in which he warned both Romeo and Juliet of the consequences of their actions, yet he never acted upon his apprehensions. As an adult, the Friar should have been the one to stop all of the madness in his tracks. However, even with all his misdoings, Friar was not the impetus of the grand devastation of the two lovers’ death.

Romeo and Juliet were both naive and foolish, and Friar Lawrence, being the adult, should not have aided in their misdeeds; nevertheless, he was only an inconsequential piece of the puzzle.

The main aspect of Friar Lawrence’s character was his identity as a friar. His only importance was performing duties of a friar such as marrying Romeo and Juliet. However, he was not the only friar in Verona. His role could have easily been fulfilled by any other friar, if not in Verona, then in Mantua or beyond. It is unsurprising that with Romeo and Juliet’s tenacity they would travel to such lengths to be together. Even Juliet states, “If all else fail, myself have power to die.” (3.5, 243) Juliet means to express the fact that friar or anyone else for that manner will not be her last resort. She will kill herself if she needs to, and that the friar’s aide is unimportant to her if he can not help her achieve her goal. Even if he had not married them or given them any help at all, both Romeo and Juliet would have gone to any means necessary to be together, and if backed into a corner they would have relied on themselves and committed suicide.

Romeo and Juliet are not the only ones who have factored into bringing about their doom. Friar, the Capulets, the Montagues, and a handful of other characters can be blamed for the great tragedy as well; however, Shakespeare makes the fact well known that Romeo and Juliet’s prodigious love became its own demise. In the end, their choice to die was their own, and in the name of love. Perhaps they were not really in love with each other, but in love with the idea of love; or just caught up in the thrill of it all. Whatever it may be, the fact remains the same. Romeo and Juliet made their own choices and shall claim responsibility for their own fate.

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