The Theme Shakespeare toys with the idea that fate or destiny is a supernatural power predetermining the path of one’s life
FATE From the opening of the play, the audience hears of fate – the belief that fate determines our lives echoes through the play. The couple struggle to break free of what fate threatens in dreams and premonitions. Romeo challenges fate defiantly when he hears of Juliet’s death: “Then I defy you, stars!”
Fate • Destiny or fate is a predetermined course of events. Read the prologue • What events are predetermined for Romeo and Juliet?
Two households, both alike in dignity,In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.From forth the fatal loins of these two foesA pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;Whose misadventured piteous overthrowsDo with their death bury their parents' strife.The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,And the continuance of their parents' rage,Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;The which if you with patient ears attend,What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
The Friar’s Speech • In his last speech (Act 5-iii), the Friar attempts to reveal his innocense by stating a chain of all the events of the play. • Are these mere coincidences or fate intervening? How do these quotes link to fate? • “untimely death” • “Friar John was stay’d by accident” • “She too desperate would not go with me”
Where do we see fate in Romeo and Juliet? • For your essay... • State the incidences of fate • Say what happens. • Say what characters are involved. • Say how much impact it has on the plot • Say how it reflects characters’ beliefs in the play eg. The Friar and Romeo thought they could defy fate-could they? • Provide quotes to support your ideas. In order to get a great score, the more good quotes, the better.
The Chain of Fate Romeo loving Rosaline Romeo meeting the illiterate servant Romeo attending the Capulet party Romeo seeing and falling in love with Juliet Their love is doomed due to their families’ hatred Tybalt is slain by Romeo forcing Juliet’s arranged marriage Juliet’s “death” Friar John unable to deliver the letter to Romeo Romeo and Juliet committing suicide mere minutes apart
Romeo Acknowledging his Fate I fear, too early: for my mind misgives Some consequence yet hanging in the stars Shall bitterly begin his fearful date With this night’s revels and expire the term Of a despised life closed in my breast By some vile forfeit of untimely death
Even though, later in the play, Romeo attempts to challenge fate, stating, “I defy you, stars!” (Act 5-i), he still expresses his own belief in the existence of fate In Act 3-I, Mercutio n is killed by Tybalt Romeo attributes this to “this day’s black fate.” Shortly afterward, Romeo explains “O, I am fortune’s fool” after killing Tybalt.
Examples • JULIET (gesturing towards Romeo)What's he that follows there, that would not dance?NURSEI know not.JULIET Go ask his name: if he be married.My grave is like to be my wedding bed.(Act I-V) • Juliet foreshadows her own death – her grave does become her wedding bed.
Examples • JULIET O think'st thou we shall ever meet again?ROMEO I doubt it not; and all these woes shall serveFor sweet discourses in our time to come.JULIET O God, I have an ill-divining soul!Methinks I see thee, now thou art below,As one dead in the bottom of a tomb:Either my eyesight fails, or thou look'st pale.ROMEO And trust me, love, in my eye so do you:Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu, adieu!(Act 3-V) • When Juliet says she has "an ill-diving soul," she means that she has a premonition of Romeo's death. This, of course, foreshadows how she will see Romeo for the last time: with her in her tomb (5-iii).
Examples JULIET O fortune, fortune! all men call thee fickle:If thou art fickle, what dost thou with him.That is renown'd for faith? Be fickle, fortune;For then, I hope, thou wilt not keep him long,But send him back.(Act 3-V) • Juliet feels pretty helpless when she says goodbye to her new husband, Romeo, after the couple's one and only night together. (Romeo has been banished from Verona for killing Tybalt and Juliet's not sure she'll ever see him again.) Fortune (or Dame Fortuna, goddess of fortune and fate) is often portrayed as a "fickle" (unpredictable and unreliable) goddess because she could raise men up to great heights or cast them down at any moment with the spin of her wheel (a.k.a. the wheel of fortune).
Examples ROMEO Is it even so? then I defy you, stars!(Act 5-i) • When Romeo hears that Juliet is dead, he declares "I defy you, stars!" Is he suggesting that Juliet's death was fated to happen? If so, how is he going to "defy" the stars, exactly?Romeo rejects the stars that have decided to separate Juliet and him. He will be with Juliet despite their plans. Is this an example of “free will” or fate?
Examples FRIAR LAWRENCE Who bare my letter, then, to Romeo?FRIAR JOHN I could not send it,--here it is again,--Nor get a messenger to bring it thee,So fearful were they of infection.FRIAR LAWRENCE Unhappy fortune! (Act 5-ii) • Friar Lawrence blames "unhappy fortune" (fate)for preventing Romeo from receiving a letter explaining that Juliet isn't really dead.
Examples FRIAR LAWRENCE I hear some noise. Lady, come from that nestOf death, contagion, and unnatural sleep:A greater power than we can contradictHath thwarted our intents. (Act 5-iii) • When Juliet awakens and finds Romeo dead, the Friar tells Juliet that a "higher power" – either God or fate – has ruined their plans.
Examples FRIAR LAWRENCE Romeo! O, pale! Who else? what, Paris too?And steep'd in blood? Ah, what an unkind hourIs guilty of this lamentable chance!(Act 5-iii) • Friar Lawrence blames "chance," not himself, for the deaths of Romeo and Paris.
Examples ROMEO (to Juliet in the tomb)I still will stay with thee;And never from this palace of dim nightDepart again: here, here will I remainWith worms that are thy chamber-maids; O, hereWill I set up my everlasting rest,And shake the yoke of inauspicious starsFrom this world-wearied flesh.(Act 5-iii) • Romeo is convinced that he will defy the "stars" by committing suicide. The idea is that fate is responsible for separating the lovers but Romeo is going to one-up the stars by killing himself, which he believes will reunite him with Juliet thereby lived up to the idea that they are “star-crossed” lovers, doomed to die to cleanse their families’ sins.