In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, who is responsible for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths?
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Most of the events that happen in Romeo and Juliet lead up to the final conclusion of the couple dying. Many, if not all, of the characters also play an ultimate role in their tragic deaths. The characters that cause the most dramatic effect upon Romeo and Juliet's death are Friar Laurence, Tybalt, and Juliet's father, Lord Capulet. Friar Laurence marries Romeo and Juliet, which causes most of the problems, since they always want to be together, even though it is very difficult for them to accomplish this. Tybalt is the reason Romeo is to be banished, and Juliet's parents are the cause for Juliet to become enraged and make rash decisions. Friar Laurence plays a very large role in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet since he basically is the `go between man' in this play. First off, he marries the two "star-crosses lovers"(prolouge.6). The rest of the events in the story tumble down from here since nothing seems to ever go right for both Romeo and Juliet. The Friar gives Juliet a potion, which is intended not to kill her, but allow to her to run away and have a better life with Romeo. It does end up causing them both to die, since there is much confusion and mix-up. The letter the Friar sent did not get to Romeo in time, causing him to become extremely upset and to kill himself. Secondly, Tybalt, his hatred towards the Montague family, and the actions he takes ends in Romeo being banished. When Tybalt strikes Mercutio down with his sword, Mercutio says, "Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm"(act III, sc i, 97-98), Romeo feels guilty and decides to avenge his friend by killing Tybalt. As a result, he becomes banished, which in turn, devastates Juliet, causing her to feel hopeless and suicidal. With Romeo gone from their town of Verona, news cannot reach him easily therefore communication becomes difficult. This `road block' causes him to get the news of Juliet being dead, even though she is not. This causes both of them to make bad choices that end in their deaths. Lastly, Lord Capulet, Juliet's father, causes Juliet to become so flustered and sad, that she decides to take drastic actions and fake her own death. Juliet's usual obeying behavior is crushed when she finds out of her father's plans for her to marry Paris. She becomes upset, and decides to just lie about being excited and happy, in order to trick her parents. With a rash decision, she fakes her death. This causes Romeo to become misled and inevitably kill himself. When Juliet awakens from her death-like slumber, she sees Romeo dead and in devastation, kills herself as well. Almost every decision leads up to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, and there are a few characters that also play a very large part in their deaths. These characters are Friar Laurence, Tybalt, and Lord Capulet, and they assist fate in succeeding in not allowing Romeo and Juliet to be together. Of course, in real life, communication is much easier to come by with the use of phones, computers, and faster methods of transportation. Love is a very difficult thing, especially when there are outside forces not wanting you, and your lover, to be together like in Romeo and Juliet's situation.
In the final scene, the Prince speaks rightly when he blames Lords Capulet and Montague for not only Romeo's and Juliet's deaths, but also for the deaths of the Prince's own relatives. The Prince blames their hatred and their feud for all of these deaths. We see this accusation in the Prince's lines:
Where be these enemies? Capulet, Montage,
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!
And I, for winking at you, discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punish'd. (Act 5, Scene 3)
However, others are also indirectly responsible for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths. While Friar Laurence broke no law nor holy sanction in marrying Romeo and Juliet without parental consent, even though his motive seems noble, one has to question the sensibleness of his decision. Friar Laurence agrees to marry them because he believed the "alliance may so happy prove, / To turn your households' rancour to pure love." In other words, he believed that uniting Romeo and Juliet in wedlock would put an end to the feud. The flaw in his plan is that the marriage was performed in secret with no immediate plan unveil the marriage. Had he been wiser, he would have foreseen that the ongoing feud would prevent any real relationship between Romeo and Juliet, sabotaging his efforts to create peace. Instead, he should have postponed the marriage until he, himself, could prepare Lords Capulet and Montague for the union. Friar Laurence continued to make things even worse by lying to Lord Capulet in helping Juliet fake her death. For all of these reasons Friar Laurence is indirectly responsible for their deaths. However, he is rightly pardoned by the Prince, because ultimately, their deaths are the fault of Lords Capulet and Montague.
Tybalt is also indirectly responsible. Had he not had such a hot-headed temper and instead agreed with his uncle to let Romeo alone for crashing the ball, Tybalt, as well as Rome and Juliet, would have remained alive. Tybalt's death led to Romeo's banishment, which led to both his and Juliet's deaths.
Finally the Prince also holds himself indirectly responsible because he did not check Lords Capulet and Montague sooner, nor try to stop the feud sooner. His personal blame is seen in the line, "and I, for winking at you, discords too, / Have lost a brace of kinsmen."
As well as all those events ^^above. There has been many discussions and interpretations of the play where the character of Rosaline is explored further. It is done to Rosaline that Romeo and Juliet meet becuase, the only reason Romeo was at the Capulet's party in hope of catching sight of his love Rosaline (who declines his love) and then Romeo sees Juliet and actually fall in love.
I think it could be really interesting to explore how the character of Rosaline can be the cause of the rest of the story's events (the effect). The love. The marriage. The tragic death. Rosaline oblivious to her part in it however. But also how Rosaline (Capulet's Niece) could have been Juliet and how this fact creates a link between them. (Think of the mirroring and the link between Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom, how Neville was born on the same birthday and could have easily been the boy in the prophecy. He could have been the chosen one). It's exactly the same.
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