In Act III, scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet, what clues did Shakespeare leave to suggest fate's hand in the scene?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In Act III, scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, some phrasing can be interpreted as implying the role of fate in the play.  Examples include the following:

  • Benvolio, at the very beginning of the scene, suggests that something bad may be fated to happen because of high temperatures: “now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.”
  • Romeo, after the death of Mercutio, assumes that further bad days are now fated to arrive:

Romeo. This day's black fate on more days doth depend; 
This [day] but begins the woe, others must end.

  • Romeo next assumes that either he must die or Tybalt must die – that no other outcome is possible:

Either thou, or I, or both, must go with him [that is, with the dead Mercutio].

  • Benvolio assumes that Romeo is “doom[ed]” to death after Romeo slays Tybalt.
  • Romeo assumes that he has been tricked by fortune, thereby also assuming that his fate is inescapable.
  • Lady Capulet argues, before the prince, that since Romeo has slain her kinsman Tybalt, Romeo himself should now be fated to die:

Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live.

  • The prince himself suggests that if Romeo does not escape, he is fated to die:

Else, when he's found, that hour is his last. 

However, although fate is suggested as a factor in these various ways in this scene, the scene far more obviously emphasizes the choices the characters make – especially the fatal choices of Mercutio and Tybalt.


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