Do the characters in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet have limited control over their destinies? 

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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At the beginning of the play, Romeo and Juliet are called "star-cross'd lovers," which implies that their fates were, indeed, out of their hands. This point could be defended in several ways. First, they are, in a sense, hapless victims of a longstanding feud that only ends with their deaths. Juliet recognizes the implications of this, saying that her "only love" was "sprung" from her "only hate." But there really is no way to control love, Shakespeare seems to be suggesting. After the two are married, the tragic series of events is set into motion, and several events completely out of their control eventually claim their lives. Tybalt's actions draw an unwilling Romeo into a deadly fight that claims the young Capulet's life, and results in Romeo's banishment. Juliet's father arranges for her marriage to young Paris. Plague stops Friar John from reaching Romeo in Mantua with news of Lawrence's plot. Balthasar arrives in Mantua bearing news of what he believes to be Juliet's death. This chain of events makes it quite easy to argue that the lovers were indeed "star-cross'd."


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