In the story, Romeo and Juliet, the two young lovers are destined to fall in love. The story, however, has a tragic ending. William Shakespeare foreshadows the theme of fate in the Prologue with the quote, “A pair of star crossed lovers take their life.” (Prologue, L6) Fate represents a greater power that predetermines events in their lives and is unchangeable. Back in William Shakespeare’s time, the Elizabethans believed that this power rules above everything and that everything is meant to happen. Their beliefs are the root of Shakespeare’s inspiration. Romeo and Juliet is a play plagued by a cruel overwhelming fate which causes the deaths of both of them.
It seems, the power of fate is inescapable during those times and Romeo and Juliet are its victims. The foreshadowing in the prologue already insinuates that Romeo and Juliet are destined for a bad fortune. The story points to a positive outcome to the unfortunate ending: the end of the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. “Doth with their death bury their parent’s strife.” (Prologue, L.10) This quote supports the fact that the deaths of Romeo and Juliet were predetermined in order for the Capulets and Montagues to finally bury the hatchet. From the very first page of the play, (prologue) we see that fate is set to put Romeo and Juliet together but also end their love in tragedy.
Secondly, the play features many coincidences on how Romeo and Juliet met. The story brings us to a Masquerade party Romeo attended where his supposed love, “Rosaline”, was present. By chance, Romeo met the illiterate Capulet serving man and helped him with reading the invitations. In return for the help, Romeo is given an invitation to the Capulet party. After reading the guest list, Romeo notices Rosaline’s name on the list and decides to attend. At the party, everyone is donning masks making it hard to recognize each other. This fact brings fate into play with the sequence of Romeo and Juliet meeting. Had Romeo and Juliet known each others identities, they would have refrained from any kind of emotional involvement. “I fear too early; for my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars shall bitterly begin his fearful date with the night’s revels…” (1, 4, 110) In this quote Romeo senses something bad was about to happen as he falls in love with Juliet. Romeo considers his love for Juliet as the greatest thing that has ever happened to him. On the other hand, little did he know what fate had in store for the two “Star Crossed Lovers.”
Lastly, the role of fate comes in again with the plan between Friar Laurence and the two lovers. Evidently, Juliet already married to Romeo could not marry Paris. The Friar proposes a plan to solve the problem. He gives Juliet a potion to put her in a deathlike trance for 42 hours. Following this, a letter would be given to Romeo, informing him of the plan. He would then swoop up Juliet from the Capulet’s burial vault and they would escape Verona together. Unfortunately, the Friar’s letter is not successfully delivered to Romeo. The Friar’s right hand man and courier of the letter, Friar John, is quarantined due to the plague. Due to this, the letter doesn’t make it to Romeo. At the same time, Romeo is informed of Juliet’s death by Balthasar. “Her body sleeps in Capel’s monument and her immortal part with angels lives.” (5, 1, 20) Following this devastating news, Romeo goes to an apothecary to buy poison to join Juliet in “death” at the Capulet’s burial vault. Romeo carries out his death plan by going to the Capulet burial vault to be with Juliet forever. Moment’s after, Friar Laurence arrives and finds Romeo dead. It is shortly after that Juliet awakes asking for Romeo. She discovers he is dead. The Friar escapes, once he hears a noise in the burial vault. Juliet decides to end her life by stabbing herself with Romeo’s dagger.
“This is thy sheath, there rust, and let me die.” (5, 3, 175) Had the Friar’s letter arrived to Romeo, or Romeo arrived at the tomb a little bit later to see Juliet awake, the events would have taken a completely different turn. The story sends out a clear message: one’s destiny is governed by the power of fate. Reflecting on the upsetting end of Romeo and Juliet, fate is the biggest factor that determines their tragic ending. Although fate ended the feud of the two families, nothing can compensate for the loss of two young, full of life lovers. Finally, the two fathers finally realize the senseless feud cost them the lives of their beloved children and decide to end the feud. “O brother Montague, give me thy hand.” (5, 3, 61) Shakespeare provides numerous facts throughout the play in support of the idea that the star crossed lovers are destined for bad fortune. The most important quote in the story are the Prince’s final words, “For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” (5, 3, 321) Romeo and Juliet, possibly the greatest story of love of all time, is, at the same time, a play plagued by a cruel overwhelming fate.