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Fate and Destiny were big themes in Shakespeare's time all round, not just in the play 'Romeo and Juliet. This is well illustrated by the quote 'star-cross'd lovers.' This means more than meets the eye at first. The stars refer, not just the 'fun' light element of astrology we enjoy today to tell about luck and love lives in the coming month, but was very close to it's scientific discipline - astronomy. In fact the two were much more closely inter-twined than they are today and people took the topic very seriously. What was known in a limited sense about the 'heavenly bodies' was embroidered with stories about ascendants, luck, nascence, and zenith of the stars at any given important time (birth,marriage,death etc.) In 'star-cross'd' people would have understood that the trajectory of the heavenly bodies at this time forebode a certain set of circumstances for those influenced by them at a certain moment in time-Fate or what the future held in store. Importantly, this was truly 'fatalistic' as there was no getting out of it - their destiny was set on an unchangeable course.
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Although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract tonight,
It is too rash, too unadvis’d, too sudden,
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say “it lightens”.
(Juliet, act 2 scene 2)
A plague a’ both houses!
(Mercutio, act 3 scene 1)
A great power than we can contradict
Hath thwarted our intents.
(Friar Lawrence, act 5 scene 3)
Romeo and Mercutio both predict their own deaths through their statements in Act I, scene iv, and Act III, scene i, respectively
“This day’s black fate on moe days doth depend,
This but begins the woe others must end.”
(Romeo, act 3 scene 1)
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 dispised life, clos'd in my breast,
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
But he that hath the steerage of my course
Direct my sail.
(Romeo and Juliet, 1.4.113), Romeo
O, I am fortune's fool!
(Romeo and Juliet, 3.1.139), Romeo
O God, I have an ill-divining soul!
(Romeo and Juliet, 3.5.55), Juliet. Romeo actually speaks this line in Q2.
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.
(Romeo and Juliet, 3.5.59-63), Juliet
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