Explain how the tragedy in Romeo and Juliet is due to a combination of characters' tragic flaws and fate.

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Noelle Matteson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The events of Romeo and Juliet indeed result from bad luck and characters’ tragic flaws. Both Romeo and Juliet are young, impetuous, and passionate. Friar Laurence warns them that “violent delights have violent ends.” Romeo kills both Tybalt and Paris, almost instinctively, and the two lovers contemplate suicide many times before finally committing it. Lord Capulet and Lord Montague are also to blame for the conflict between the two houses that forbids Romeo and Juliet from marrying.

Mercutio’s and Tybalt’s flaws likewise contribute to the tragedy. Though Romeo tries to make peace with Tybalt, Tybalt easily goads the mercurial Mercutio (as the name suggests) into fighting. Benvolio attempts to calm him, but Mercutio asserts, “I will not budge for no man's pleasure, I.” Tybalt is also a fiery and violent individual who perpetuates the feud: “What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, / As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.”

Fate intervenes the moment Romeo attempts to stop the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt, when Tybalt fatally wounds Mercutio. In turn, Romeo kills Tybalt. That Romeo survived and Mercutio and Tybalt died is almost a fluke, and Romeo cries, “I am fortune's fool!” Romeo is then banished.

A major mishap then occurs when Friar Laurence sends a message to tell Romeo that Juliet has faked her death. Due to a quarantine, the letter does not arrive on time. Romeo takes poison because he believes that Juliet is dead, and Juliet stabs herself because Romeo is dead. In addition, Paris happens to be at Juliet’s grave when Romeo arrives, and the two of them fight out of loyalty to Juliet until Paris is slain.

Therefore it is both unfortunate circumstances and human failings that contribute to the tragic destiny of Romeo, Juliet, and the people of Verona.