Romeo Juliet William Shakespeare Essays

One of the most important issues in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is that of choice. Do the characters have the ability to choose what they want to do, or are they simply destined to participate in death and destruction? There is ample evidence of both fate and free will in the play, and the presence of both greatly affects the interpretation of the plot and the characters.

Fate as a dominating force is evident from the very beginning of the play. The Chorus introduces the power of fortune in the opening prologue when we are told that Romeo and Juliet are “star-crossed” (destined for bad luck) and “death-marked,” and that their death will end their parents’ feud. Fate and fortune are closely related in the play, as they both concern events that are out of human control. By telling us that Romeo and Juliet are destined to die because of their bad luck, Shakespeare gives us the climax of the play before it even begins. This strategy, which seems odd considering the end has been spoiled for the audience, serves two purposes: it allows the introduction of the power of fate and fortune over people’s lives by declaring the fate of Romeo and Juliet at the very beginning, and it also creates tension throughout the play because they very nearly succeed despite this terrible declaration. Thus the opening prologue sets up the fate/free will problem.

The characters themselves all believe that their lives are controlled by destiny and luck, and Romeo is a prime example of this. When Romeo and his friends journey to the Capulet’s ball in Act I, scene iv, Romeo hesitates to go because he has had a bad dream:

...[M]y mind misgivesSome consequence, yet hanging in the stars,Shall bitterly begin his fearful dateWith this night’s revels and expire the termOf a despised life, closed in my breast,By some vile forfeit of untimely death (I, iv. 106-111).

Romeo not only acknowledges the power of the stars, which tell what fate has in store through astrology, but he also believes that his destiny is to die. Romeo’s belief in fate also affects his interpretation of events. When Romeo kills Tybalt in Act III, scene i, he claims that he is “fortune’s fool” by having contributed to his own downfall. In Act V, scene i, Romeo demonstrates his belief in the power of dreams to foretell the future once again when he believes that he will be reunited with Juliet on the basis of another dream. However, when Balthasar informs him that Juliet is dead, Romeo once again rails against the power of fate: “Is it e’en so? Then I defy you, stars! / Thou knowest my lodging” (V, i. 24). Romeo finally tries to escape from his destiny at the end of the play by committing suicide to “shake the yoke of inauspicious stars,” ironically fulfilling the destiny declared by the Chorus in the opening prologue.
Other characters in the play believe in the power of fate as well. Juliet appeals to fortune when Romeo escapes to Mantua in Act III, scene v:

“O Fortune, Fortune! All men call thee fickle. If thou art fickle, what dost thou with himThat is renowned for faith? Be fickle, Fortune,For then I hope thou wilt not keep him longBut send him back” (III, v. 60-64).

Juliet demonstrates here that she not only believes in the power of luck and fate over her own situation, but that Romeo himself has faith in those concepts. Friar Laurence also shows his belief in the power of destiny over people. When Romeo runs to his cell after killing Tybalt, Friar Laurence acknowledges that Romeo does indeed have bad luck: “Affliction is enamored of thy parts, / And thou art wedded to calamity” (III, iii. ll.2-3). As a priest, Friar Laurence naturally believes that destiny exists, as God has planned out all events. However, the friar will also become a victim of fate by the end of the play. His letter to Romeo, which details Friar Laurence’s plan for Romeo to pick up Juliet at the Capulet tomb after she has awakened from the effects of the potion, could not be delivered because of the “unfortunate” quarantine of Friar John. Friar Laurence then has the misfortune of accidentally tripping over gravestones while running to meet Juliet, which delays his arrival until after Romeo has committed suicide. Friar Laurence recognizes the power of fate to overrule his good intentions when Juliet awakens: “A greater power than we can contradict / Hath thwarted our intents” (V, iii. ll.153-154). The fact that Friar Laurence, Juliet, Romeo, and the other characters in the play believe so strongly in fate and fortune is not surprising, given...

(The entire section is 1902 words.)

This is the essay I wrote when I completed my study of R + J

Many people in the 20th century look to suicide as a way out. Two star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare do the same. Romeo and Juliet are lovers from feuding families who marry. Because of pressures they self-destruct. Shakespeare uses different strategies in writing this tragedy. They are, for example, coincidence, language tricks, and secondary characters.

In Romeo and Juliet many coincidences occurred. Romeo and Juliet are enemies from different feuding families and they are in love. The night of the party is the day Benvoilio wants to cheer up Romeo. Both Romeo and Juliet drink potions to "die." These three coincidences make Romeo and Juliet move the story along.

Many different language tricks are embodied in Romeo and Juliet. �Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks thy seasick weary run,� is an example of a metaphor. Reversed words for instance �upfill� are also used. Numerous references applying classical allusion are utilized. �At lover�s perjuries, they say Jove laughs,� is a citation. These types of descriptions make Romeo and Juliet more fun to read.

Secondary characters were also used to move the plot along in Romeo and Juliet. Lord Capulet orders Juliet to marry Paris. Friar John was quarantined so the letter could not reach Romeo. Apothecary sold the poison to Romeo so he could kill himself at Juliet�s side. Without all of these secondary characters the story line would have been drastically different.

The use of coincidence, language tricks, and secondary characters has made Romeo and Juliet popular for 400 years. This tragic story ended with their suicides, because of their feuding families. Today, many people especially children today die because of feuds. Time and time again, we hear of young gang members killing innocent children. These happenings are more tragic because they involve real people and not characters in a story.

An essay on the line that Romeo said "Worse poison to mens souls in these poor compounds that thou mayest not sell. I hath sold thou poison, thou hast sold me none." (i'm not sure the exact line, but its pretty close).

Romeo has given the apothecary his money for the poison so he can die with Juliet. He says that money is worse than poison because it causes so many problems and that instead of the apothecary giving Romeo the poison , Romeo has given the poison to the apothecary.
I agree with Romeo that money can be worse than poison if used in a bad way. A lot of murders, robberies, deceptions, and kidnappings happen because of money. If there were no money, there would probably not be as much greed. With no money there probably not be as much greed. Also if there were no money people might not be judged by how they look or how much money they have.
One reason I agree with Romeo is money causes so much crime. If there were no money there would not be nearly as much murder, kidnapping or robbery. There wouldn�t be ransom notes because there wouldn�t be any money to ask for. there wouldn�t be as much murder either because a lot of murder takes place due to wanted inheritance or just a quick way of getting money fast without having to deal with banks. People who murder, kidnap, or participate in any type of crime are just greedy people with low self esteem.
I think that money is part of the reason that people are popular or not. People who have a lot of money are sometimes popular and some people who are greedy like them for only that reason. Also if people don�t have enough money for nice clothes they are sometimes not liked as much because they are judged by their looks and not their personality, which is not fair at all.
Money has caused bigger and bigger problems throughout time. Even many years ago money was a problem because of greedy people wanting more money and power. Money and greed kept the Montague and Capulet apart which caused problems for Romeo and Juliet leading to their death. If money was used properly this would not have happened.

This is an essay examining Mercutio's character

Mercutio is one of the most unique characters in Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet". His language is always powerful and imaginative. He represents many different things in the play and holds an important role. Both of these categories will be explored in this essay, among other things. First of all, Mercutio is Romeo's friend. He is neither Montague, nor Capulet. Therefore, he has not been born into a feud and really has no side. However, his bond with Romeo does make him associated with the Montagues.
Mercutio's character stands out from the rest because of his energy in everything he does and says. He is very fun loving and has a genuine love for life. He is living his life on the edge and always looking for something new and exciting to do. He is constantly playing on words, using two or more meanings. Romeo once describes him as, "A gentlemen�who loves to hear himself talk." As displayed in his Queen Mab speech in Act I Scene iv, he is very imaginative. He describes in intimate detail everything about a little world he has imagined. He creates this miniature society which he uses to explain how we get our dreams. In that same scene, Mercutio reveals to the audience how he believes one should chase after what is desired. He tells Romeo to not be afraid to take charge saying: "If love be rough with you, then be rough with love." Mercutio teases Romeo, in Act I Scene iv: "Romeo! Humours! Madman! Passion! Lover! Appear though in the likeness of a sigh."
This shows how Mercutio simply cannot understand Romeo's love for Juliet, and that he sees his love as simply a confusion of emotions. Mercutio is very independent and free and does not understand how someone could want or need anyone or anything else in his life to fulfill it. Mercutio wants to live his life on the spur of the moment. He is not interested in being dependent on anyone.
There are two main reasons Mercutio's character is important to the actual plot of "Romeo & Juliet". First of all, Mercutio convinces Romeo to attend the party at the Capulet's house, where he met Juliet. Romeo was very reluctant to go to the party and even expressed a feeling of insecurity about what the night may bring. However, after Mercutio advises Romeo and teases him a little, Romeo decides to go. It is solely because of Mercutio's persuasions that Romeo opts to attend the gathering. The second way Mercutio's character is vital to the plot is it is Mercutio's death that sets off the chain of events that leads to Romeo's banishment. First, Tybalt murders Mercutio. Romeo is so enraged by this that he kills Tybalt. As a consequence, Romeo is banished from Verona and therefore from seeing Juliet. During the first scene of Act III, Mercutio is being his regular, quick-witted self. He is very sharp in his language, but perhaps too sharp.
He deliberately annoys Tybalt, by doing things like purposely mistaking meanings of words, like in Act III Scene I, Tybalt begins addressing Mercutio about the relationship between Romeo and Juliet and Romeo takes the word 'consort' as related to playing music, instead of being friends with Romeo. Instances like this simply make the argument more and more heated, until Mercutio takes Tybalt's final blow, while Romeo is standing between them actually trying to stop the fight. This symbolizes how Romeo may try as he will to end the fighting between the Montagues and the Capulets, but he cannot.
Mercutio's death is a major event in this play. When Tybalt kills Mercutio, the attributes of a comedy die with him. From now on, this play becomes a Tragedy. This demonstrates how Mercutio is a strong representation of all that is youthful and carefree in this play. Mercutio does not change dramatically in this play. The only slight change a reader may see is when he is about to die, he yells: "A plague on both your houses!"
This may be regarded as a change because Mercutio has never been so serious before. He has never expressed any disagreement of the relationship between the Montagues and the Capulets. Now, he seems to realize the damage the fighting is capable of doing, unfortunately, it was too late for him.
In conclusion, Mercutio's character is obviously very complex and vital to the plot of this play. He represents independence, youth, and freedom, and makes the story line a lot more interesting. He is apparently a vital role to this play and its success.
---Jannah Van Gorp June 9th, 1999

Explore the Connections Between the Film Version and Shakespeare's Original Play

This is an essay that explores the differences between the R & J movie and Shakespeare's Origianl play.

The director of the film version of "Romeo and Juliet" and Shakespeare both used the same script for their programs, but they are very different interpretations. In this paper, I am going to explain some of the instances in the first scene of "Romeo and Juliet" that the movie highlights more than in play, and some instances that the movie draws less attention to and the play brings out.
First of all, the setting is probably the most evident contrast between the play and the movie. What the modern environment does is allows it to be much more violent. As the scene opens, you see a carload of Montague boys yelling with loud music and basically just having a good time. Then, the Capulet's pull into the gas station. Immediately, it is evident that this family is much more serious than the Montague's. They are wearing much darker clothes than the Montague's with blacks and reds. The Montague's are wearing brighter yellows and blues. This is obviously a difference that is brought out simply because of visual additions. So, already there is a feeling of favoritism on the Montague's. Then, when Tybalt enters, you almost immediately hate him. He has black and deep red clothes on, cowboy boots with spurs, and black greasy hair. He is almost an icon for the devil himself. However, in the play, you do favor Benvolio, because he says things like, "I do but keep the peace�" in line sixty-five. The director of the movie interpreted this confrontation between Benvolio and Tybalt, as like an old western showdown: with the boys twirling their guns, and the camera zooming in on their boots, Tybalt's spurs and their slow pace.
The actors and the music add an extreme sense of intensity and fear to the scene. In the play, it is not as evident how the servant's are really cowards and are terrified of what may happen in any of the scuffles they get involved in. The movie brings this out by turning the actor's tones into screams and yelling. The music is loud and nerving. It makes the rivalry between the families seem very real and accentuates the potential violence and genuine, mutual hate.
A final difference is in the play, when Tybalt challenges Benvolio (lines 67-69) all the citizens join in and take sides yelling, "Down with the Capulet's!" or "Down with the Montague's!" In the movie, it is actually quite the opposite. For example, when the two families see each other, a bus full of nuns who are on the scene quickly get back in and hurry off hoping to avoid being a part of the violence. Also, a woman in her car repeatedly hits one of the Montague servants with her purse when he gets near her car. The violence and obviously renowned feud between the families evidently terrified her.
---Jannah Van Gorp April 28th, 1999


Fate seems to guide people toward their destinies. Whenever a person has a destiny, he or she cannot entirely control what happens. That person can only try to prevent the worst from happening. Sometimes bad things do happen, but fate will always bring people together. The play The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet demonstrates how fate can bring two people together.

Romeo and Juliet met by chance. Romeo was actually going to the Capulet party to see Rosaline, but fell in love when he saw Juliet. She too fell in love with Romeo before she knew who he was. When she found out he was the son of her greatest enemy, she did not really care. All she knew was that she loved him and she belonged with him. Juliet said:

My only love, sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me
That I must love a loathed enemy.

The only person that helped Romeo and Juliet through their struggles the most was Friar Lawrence. Romeo, immediately after he met Juliet, went to the Friar to ask him to marry them. Friar Laurence said:

Thy love did read by rote, that could not spell.
But come, young waverer, come go with me.
In one respect I�ll thy assistant be;
For this alliance may so happy prove
To turn your households� rancor to pure love.

Friar Laurence was explaining that Romeo did not really know what love was. He would marry them anyway hoping that the relationship would between the two feuding families could be improves by the marriage of their children.

Finally, in the end, the price gives a very moving speech to the house of Capulet and Montaque, after their children�s death. Prince says:

This letter doth make good the friar�s words,
Their course of love, the tidings of her death;
And here he writes that he did buy a poison
Of a poor apothecary and therewithal
Came to this vault to die and lie with Juliet.
Where be these enemies? Capulet, Montaque,
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punished.

What the Prince meant was that because Capulet and Montaque hated each other so much, Romeo and Juliet ended up killing themselves to be together. Both families lost something very important to them. If the families would have stopped feuding, maybe then their children we still be alive.

Fate seems to guide people toward their destines. Romeo and Juliet felt they should be together and they did not care what it took. They were willing to give even their lives. Their love ended in death. They could then be together in heaven.

---Sarah R

When we attend theatrical performances�school plays, assembly programs, or movies in public theater�we�re accustomed to finding a seat and waiting until the lights dim, the audience quiets down, and the play or feature begins. We�re also accustomed to seeing scenery that suggests the location of the play and expect the stage lighting to help set the mood.
But all this was not so in Shakespeare�s time. Then, people attended plays during the day, for there was no was to light the stage effectively at night. Public performances of plays in theaters was a fairly new idea at the time because the first permanent English theater had been built less than twenty years before Shakespeare began writing his plays. Although the shape of the theaters varied from square, circular, or octagonal, all had a stage that was simply a raised platform in an open yard surrounded with tiers of galleries to accommodate the spectators. The stage was covered with a roof, commonly called �The Heavens.� While the roof protected actors from the weather, the attic space above could hold machinery, such as ropes and pulleys to lower thrones or heavenly deities to the stage or to hide the sound effects of thunder, alarm bells, or cannonades. By modern standards these theaters were small. The open yard in front of the stage in theater measured only 50 feet across. Up to two thousand spectators could either sit on benches in the tiers of galleries or stand in the open yard in front of the stage.
These theaters used simple stage props�chairs or tables were brought on the stage as needed. Actual scenery may have been suggested through dialogue or may have included minimal set pieces such as a few trees to suggest a forest, or a rock to suggest a river bank. The stages themselves had many built-in acting areas that could function in a number of ways: for instance, small inner stages with drapes which the actors used as inner rooms. The actors could use the inner room for King Duncan�s chamber in Macbeth or Brutus� tent in Julius Caesar. Usually, there was also a small balcony positioned in the center of the stage. The balcony might serve as Juliet�s balcony in Romeo and Juliet or as the battlements of Elsinore Castle in Hamlet.
The costumes were based on the contemporary clothing styles of the time. Instead of attempting any sort of accurate historical costuming, the actors wore clothes much like those of the characters rank. For example, Macbeth would have been costumed a nobleman and Lady Capulet as any wealthy English merchant�s wife. Occasionally, other costume pieces may have been added to suggest witches, fairies, national or racial costumes.
During the time that Shakespeare wrote and acted, only three or four professional companies performed in theaters just outside the limits of London. These professional troupes employed only male actors. Although most of the roles in Shakespeare�s plays are male, the few parts of younger female characters�Juliet or her mother, for instance�were played by young boys, age fourteen or so and apprenticed to actors. Men may have played some female roles, especially those of older, comedic women, like Juliet�s Nurse.

Time and Fate in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet, said to be one of the most famous love stories of all times, is a play anchored on time and fate. Some actions are believed to occur by chance or by destiny. The timing of each action influences the outcome of the play. While some events are of less significance, some are crucial to the development of this tragedy. The substantial events that inspire the conclusion of Romeo and Juliet are; the Capulet ball, the quarrel experienced by Tybalt and Romeo, and Friar John�s plague.

A servant to Capulet, who is incapable of reading the list of guests, asks for Romeo�s assistance. Romeo notices that Rosaline, his lover, is among these names. Benvolio challenges Romeo to compare her with other "beauties." Benvolio predicts, "Compare her face with some that I shall show,/ And I will make thee think thy swan a crow." (I, ii, l 86-87) To show his appreciation, the servant asks for Romeo�s presence at the ball. Romeo should have considered the servant�s warning; if Romeo occupies the name of Montague, he shall not be permitted. Once at the ball, Romeo is searching for a maiden to substitute the unrequited love of Rosaline. Romeo happens to gaze upon Juliet, who charms Romeo. Romeo proclaims, " Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!/ For ne�er saw true beauty till this night." (I, v, l 52-53) Since Romeo declares his love for Juliet, she feels the attraction also. They believe that they are in love and must marry. However, it is a genuine coincidence that Romeo and Juliet were at the same place, at the same time.

Some days after the ball, Benvolio and Mercutio are conversing, in regard to the quarrelsome weather. Benvolio declares, "The day is hot, the Capulets abroad,/ And if we meet we shall not �scape a brawl,/ For now these got days is the mad blood stirring." (III, i, l 2-4) At this point, Tybalt, who has challenged Romeo because of his appearance at the masquerade, enters, seeking Romeo. On Romeo�s behalf, Mercutio struggles with Tybalt, while Romeo, who is filled with love for his new cousin, tries to end their boldness. Before escaping, Tybalt plunges his sword into Mercutio, causing death to fall upon him. Mercutio blames Romeo and the feud for his fate. Romeo kills Tybalt, who taunts Romeo, upon his return. Romeo fears he will be condemned to death if he does not flee before the arrival of the Prince. Benvolio recalls the events that have happened, with some embellishment. The Prince declares: And for that offence/ Immediately we do exile him hence./ I hav an in your hate�s proceeding,/ My blood for your rude brawls doth lie a-bleeding;/ But I�ll amerce you with so strong a fine/ That you shall repent the loss of mine./ I will be deaf to pleading and excuses;/ Nor tears nor prayers shall purchase out abuses;/ Therefore use none. Let Romeo hence in haste,/ Else, when he�s found, that hour is his last./ Bear hence this body and attend our will./ Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill. (III, i, l 185-195)

Due to the disturbance of Verona�s street and the losses of Tybalt and Mercutio, the Prince must penalize Romeo. However, the Prince agrees that Romeo was acting in self defense.

Juliet, who desires not to wed Paris, asks for Friar Laurence�s assistance. The day before the wedding, Juliet is to drink the poison, which will make her appear to be dead. In forty two hours she shall awake, with Romeo by her side. Romeo will then bring her to Mantua with him. In the meantime Friar Laurence will convey a message to Romeo in Mantua, telling him the plot. When she gains consciousness, Romeo and Friar Laurence will be there. Friar Laurence says, "Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift,/ And hither shall he come; and he and I/ Will watch thy waking" (IV, i, l 114-116) Following Juliet�s intake of the poison, Romeo is anticipating news from Verona. Balthasar, a servant to Romeo, tells Romeo that Juliet has passed on. Romeo, who is told there are no letters from the friar, seeks a way to accomplish his suicide. Meanwhile, Friar Laurence, confronts Friar John, who was to deliver the letter to Romeo. Friar John informs Friar Laurence that he was seeking another Franciscan, who was visiting the sick, to accompany him to Mantua. He says, "Suspecting that we both were in a house/ Where the infectious pestilence did reingn,/ Seal�d up the doors, and would not let us forth;/" (V, ii, l 9-11) Friar John tells that he could find no one to deliver the letter, for fear they may catch the infection.

The substantial events that inspire the conclusion of Romeo and Juliet are; the Capulet ball, the quarrel experienced by Tybalt and Romeo, and Friar John�s plague. The Capulet ball influences the ending of the play by Romeo�s invitation at the ball, which creates the meeting of Romeo and Juliet. The ball also gives birth to Tybalt�s anger and causes his challenge. The challenge causes the banishment of Romeo, which produces much grieving by Juliet and Romeo. Also, the quarrelsome weather is partly to blame for the feuding between Tybalt and Mercutio. Since Friar John did not deliver the letter, Romeo thinks that Juliet is dead, sacrifices himself. Juliet seeing that Romeo is dead, slays herself also.

Word Count: 915
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