How does Shakespeare present a feeling of confusion in Romeo and Juliet?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare does a wonderful job of creating confusion between the characters and for the audience in his play Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare uses miscommunication, premonitions and impulsive behavior based on false information to cause scenes of commotion and chaos. One of the first ways confusion is caused is by Romeo not informing Mercutio and Benvolio about his marriage to Juliet. Had he done so, his friends may have been able to help him or to at least understand why he refused to fight Tybalt in Act III. Mercutio was very confused as to why Romeo wouldn't fight Tybalt because just before the fatal brawl Benvolio had said that Romeo would answer Tybalt's letter by fighting in the duel as challenged.

The next way in which Shakespeare promoted confusion is by presenting the conflict between what a person feels or desires as opposed to the will of Fate. For example, after Romeo and Juliet are reunited after the death of Tybalt, the lovers bid farewell until another time, but Juliet receives a premonition that the next time she sees Romeo, he will be dead. Here she feels that she has made the right choice in marrying Romeo because she loves him, but she senses that their marriage will be visited by death. That certainly must be a confusing feeling.

Finally, one of Romeo's tragic flaws is his impulsive behavior. Romeo always seems to act without thinking things through first. Had Romeo gone to find Friar Lawrence first before seeking out Juliet, he would have been able to gather all of the facts before deciding to kill himself at the end of the play. Whatever the case may be, the fact that Fate was in full control over the lives of Romeo and Juliet also may have been a cause of confusion because humans want to be in control of their own lives. Romeo, Friar Lawrence, and Juliet all tried to defy fate by making choices that would help to remedy any obstacle that came their way. Sadly, they played right into fate's hand anyway.