Where and what quotes from the play romeo and juliet express "freedom of choice"? I need to know what quotes show that the character does not have "freedom of choice".

2 Answers | Add Yours

blacksheepunite's profile pic

blacksheepunite | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

Much tension exists in this play between free-will and determination. In the prologue, Romeo and Juliet are referred to as star-crossed lovers. This seems to suggest that the stars, or fate, play a role in their lives. Prior to the party, Romeo expresses a fearful premonition when he says his "mind misgives some consequence in the stars...". In this same passage, Romeo appears to place his faith in God,saying, "let He who hath the steerage of my course direct my sail," yet even this is problematic. Romeo frequently says that his religion is Love. If so, he has responded to his premonition not with caution, but with almost reckless abandon, for he is giving his free-will away to a false god (Cupid).

Romeo also relinquishes control metaphorically before he kills himself when he calls upon Death to destroy him, "come, bitter conduct, come unsavory guide/ Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark". Notice that he calls Death (personified) a "guide." Even in death, he suggests he is following rather than choosing his direction and, in fact, his metaphor of a boat is that of a person who feels he has no control over the elements.

Here's the important question, though: was he actually controlled by fate or did he freely choose to relinquish his own control?

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Two quotes come to mind reflecting freedom of choice, but in reality, choice is limited.

Romeo bucks his friend Mercutio's advice on affairs of the heart in favor of his own choice. In 1.2,102-103, he defends himself, saying: "I'll go along, no such sight to be shown,/But to rejoice in spendour of mine own." Here, Romeo claims to have maturity to choose his love, but he is anything but mature. As recently as 1.1, he is mooning over his lost love, Rosalind. Only one who is versed in the art of love can claim to be able to make a clear choice. Romeo is more motivated by his romantic illusions than by thoughtful choice.

In 1.3.17-18, Juliet's father allegedly offers his daughter the freedom to choose a mate. He says: "My will to her consent is but a part, And she agreed, within the scope of her choice/Lies my consent and fair according voice." However, Lord Capulet has, in truth, already selected his daughter's future husband, Paris, and has no doubt that "(m)y will to her consent is but a part" and moreover, she is only free to select a mate "within her scope of choice," ie, one Capulet has sanctioned (clearly, this *won't* be his ancient enemy, Montague's son, Romeo.)


We’ve answered 317,706 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question