Homework Help

To what extent is Romeo a pawn of fate, and to what extent is he responsible for the...

user profile pic

nhmiller123 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 10, 2013 at 10:19 PM via web

dislike 2 like

To what extent is Romeo a pawn of fate, and to what extent is he responsible for the events that unfold in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

tamarakh | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 16, 2013 at 7:34 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 2 like

It is Romeo's birth that makes him a pawn of fate. His birth is the one thing he has no control over, and he was born into a family that was engaged in a longstanding feud with another family. It is essentially Lords Capulet and Montague's decision to continue the feud that leads to his death; however, Romeo's own decisions also contribute to his own demise.

For example, Romeo makes a choice against his better judgement to allow his friends to persuade him to crash the Capulet's ball. As he explains to his friends, he felt the decision was rash and actually had a dream prophesying that the events of the night would lead to his untimely death, as we see in his lines:

... 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, clos'd in my breast,
By some vile forfeit of untimely death. (I.iv.113-17)

Had Romeo stood by his decision that crashing the ball was dangerous and rash, he never would have angered Tybalt and never would have caused the events leading to his own death, as well as Tybalt's, Mercutio's, and Juliet's.

Another choice Romeo makes that leads to his demise is to avenge himself on Tybalt for Mercutio's death. After Tybalt kills Mercutio, Tybalt flees the scene. Had Romeo fled at that moment as well, he would not have killed Tybalt, and he would not have been exiled, which are both events that lead up to Romeo's own death. However, instead, Romeo decides to stand his ground and seek revenge, which he gets to do the moment Tybalt returns. Romeo actually had no need to avenge Mercutio's death. Prince Escalus had already decreed that any more fighting would be punished by death; Tybalt was already doomed to die. Romeo could have made the more reasonable and rational decision to escape the moment and allow the law to avenge Mercutio's death. However, Romeo failed to make the more rational decision, which eventually leads to his own death as well.

Sources:

user profile pic

irakatina15 | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 10, 2013 at 11:12 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

Romeo is the pawn of fate because fate caused the messenger from the priest not able to get to Romeo in time to tell of the news of Juliets death being a set up to let them run off and be together forever before Romeo's friend got to him. Romeo is responsible for the event so swiftly unfolding in Act III because he is not good a making decisions. He acts upon instinct, and this instinct being to kill himself instead of maybe going to Friar Lawrence and trying to get an explanation of whats happening. Romeo truely is blinded by love and it makes him an irrational thinker.

user profile pic

nhmiller123 | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 11, 2013 at 1:18 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 1 like

Romeo is the pawn of fate because fate caused the messenger from the priest not able to get to Romeo in time to tell of the news of Juliets death being a set up to let them run off and be together forever before Romeo's friend got to him. Romeo is responsible for the event so swiftly unfolding in Act III because he is not good a making decisions. He acts upon instinct, and this instinct being to kill himself instead of maybe going to Friar Lawrence and trying to get an explanation of whats happening. Romeo truely is blinded by love and it makes him an irrational thinker.

Thank you so much! I really appreciate it!

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes