Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare Free Essay Sample
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Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare Free Essay Sample
There are a number of theories as to why Romeo and Juliet take their lives. Most of these theories state that the couple’s selfishness and failure to love caused their demise. These are all possible causes of the tragedy, but there is one that is the definite answer: the pressure of religion and the idea of fulfilling God’s will led to their death. If religion were not a factor then the lovers would not have looked to Friar Lawrence-a man of God-for guidance. The Friar has referred to the couple’s marriage as being given to them by God. The prologue even states that the act which brought the “star-crossed” lovers together was caused by divine providence. Lastly, our very own Romeo and Juliet have stated that their marriage was an act of God. Since God was the being that brought this relationship together, it would only make sense that if one of partners died, the other would subsequently want to join their counterpart in Heaven.
“So smile the heavens upon this holy act”. (II.6.1) The Friar says so himself. God brought Romeo and Juliet together. If it is a fact that God brought the two together, then it would only make sense for them to try and appease God by following his will. On the other hand, if religion was not even a factor in the play they could have done whatever they pleased. Perhaps they wouldn’t have even looked towards Friar Lawrence for guidance, but since the all-seeing eye of God was constantly watching they had to act accordingly. The Friar being a man of God has to carry on the word of God and act as a tool for the all mighty. Often times in the play we find our lovers seeking guidance from Friar Lawrence which only allows him to perpetuate the word of God and discourage our duo even further. Without religion they would not have had to turn to the Friar and could have lived their lives without the constant anxiety of having to please God.
Furthermore, the time and place in which the play is set applies pressure on their marriage. In Italy at that time the only religion was that of the Catholic Church. Having that in mind, Catholicism was definitely practiced and most of the inhabitants believed in God. When Romeo first sees Juliet and realizes he’s in love with her he would obviously have the mindset of “that’s the women God intended me to be with”. When Romeo and Juliet get married they do so with the intentions of pleasing God and staying faithful to that person. In the final act when Juliet finds Romeo’s body she doesn’t even think twice. Because of the aspect of religion and the need to be with the one God planned her to be with she kills herself, hoping to join Romeo in Heaven. If religion weren’t a factor in the play then they wouldn’t have gotten into this mess in the first place. Without the notion that everyone’s fate is determined by God’s will, Romeo could have actually followed his own desires and pursued Rosaline instead of Juliet. If Romeo had pursued Rosaline then he would not have had to go to the party in search of another woman. It is because of God’s will that Romeo was led to Juliet. “A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life” (prologue. 6)
Touching on points previously mentioned, the idea of joining the other in heaven played a major part in the ultimate demise of our two lovers. “Heaven is where Juliet lives.”(II.3.1-2) Although this isn’t in the spot where the two kill themselves, when Romeo says this it’s almost foreshadowingt that event. When Romeo makes this proclamation it gives the reader the sense that because Heaven (God’s home) exists in the play, Romeo would want to join his lover if anything did happen. This directly corresponds with the religious pressure that was previously mentioned. Because of God’s will, they could not picture themselves being with anyone else, so it would only make sense for them to join each other where God is.
Romeo also refers to Mantua-the place where he has been banished-as being worse than death. God’s will is for them to be together and since he is being banished, Mantua seems like hell in a sense. Catholicism being alive in the play makes it seem as if this place where he’s being banished is death because he is away from Juliet and thus farther away from God’s will. The reality is that it’s not. Romeo could have easily accepted the fact that what he did was wrong, and lived a long life in Mantua and quite possibly could have found a spouse. It is only because religion exists in the play that Romeo wants to go to pursue Juliet. Romeo pursues Juliet because it is already predetermined by God’s plan, it is because of God’s plan that Romeo then kills himself because he sees that Juliet is dead. So in hindsight it would have been better for him to go to Mantua and live on his life. Unfortunately this was not possible because of the existence of religion in the play.
In conclusion the reason that the couple kills themselves is because of religion. All major decisions made by the two were because of God’s apparent predetermined plan. Friar Lawrence was a tool used by God to help propagate his plan. The whole idea of God’s plan applied pressure on the relationship when really if religion didn’t exist, they could have lived their lives happily. The concept of being with the person that God placed you with put stress on the relationship and ultimately when the time came, caused the other to commit suicide. Being with each other in Heaven was obviously an idea that the two lovers could not look past, so it only made sense that they would want to spend eternity with each other.