"Fate is not a matter of chance; it is matter of choice," wrote William Jennings Bryan. In "Romeo and Juliet" this statement holds true as the choices of Romeo and Juliet are what determine their ultimate ending and "fate."
1. Romeo knows that Juliet is from the family of his mortal enemies, yet despite his declaration to Benvolio that he will
go along, no such sight to be shown,/But to rejoice in splendor of mine own (I,iii,91-92)
he sneaks into her party and is so bold as to talk with her and ask for a kiss: "My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand...(I,v,90).
2. Likewise, Juliet plunges into gratifying her instant attraction to Romeo when, after asking the Nurse "What is yond gentleman? (I,v,123)," and the nurse replies that Romeo is a Montague. In the garden, although she has remarked in Act I that her birth of love for Romeo is "prodigious" [unnatural, monstrous], In Act II, she freely gives Romeo her hand, takes is back only so that she may give it again:
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,/My love as deep; the more I give to thee,/The more I have, for both are infinte. (II,ii,133-135)
3. Romeo rejects the advice of Friar Lawrence to wait to marry Juliet. When Romeo impulsively urges, "Oh, let us hence. I stand on sudden haste," Friar Lawrence cautions, "Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast"(II,iv,87-88).
4. In Act III after Juliet has been deceptive by secretly marrying Romeo and chooses to deceive her parents by concurring with them that she wishes Romeo dead for having killed her cousin. In addition, she lies and says that she will not marry. But, when her mother tells her that the groom will be Paris, Juliet replies,
I will not marry yet. And when I do, I swear/It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,/Rather than Paris....(III,v, 122-124)
5. When Juliet cannot get herself out of this quandary, she runs to Friar Lawrence for help. She chooses to drink from the vial he gives her to cause her to appear dead so that the parents will mourn the loss their daughter and be so elated when she is "returned" to life that they will forgive her for having married Romeo. However, this decision proves hasty and unwise.
6. While Fate does enter in the form of the sickness which causes Mantua to be quarantied, Romeo chooses not to contact Friar Lawrence, but rushes to Verona when he learns of the "death" of Juliet. Impetuously, he purchases poison after bribing an apothecary, and sets out for Verona to "defy you, stars!" (I,i,24).
Of course, both the lovers create their fates only by themselves. As James Allen declared,
Man is manacled only by himself; thought and action are the jailers of Fate.
Indeed, Romeo "manacles" himself to his fate by assuming that his lovely Juliet is, indeed, dead. Similarly, Juliet, in turn, places her "manacles of fate" upon herself when she chooses to join Romeo in death"
...Then I'll be brief. O happy dagger!/This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die. (I,iii,169-170)
Indeed, the words and actions of Romeo and Juliet, rash and often irresponsible, lead to the "jailer of Fate" in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."