Be it resolved that Romeo and Juliet are controlled by fate over their own actions.  What are the cons?"Romeo and Juliet" by Willaim Shakespeare

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Jennings Bryan said, "Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice."  Like the speaker of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken," Romeo and Juliet initially choose the course in life that they wish.  If they are "star-crossed lovers," it is because their initial course sets them on the "way that leads to way," as Frost writes.

In Act One as Romeo bemoans the loss of the love of Rosalind, Benvolio encourages him to look elsewhere, suggesting that they go to the Capulet feast:

Tut, you saw her fair, none else being by...But in that crystal scales let there be weighed/Your lady's love against soe other maid/That I will show you shining at this feast... (I,iii,84-88)

Romeo, knowing that the Capulets are his mortal enemies chooses to go, "I'll go along....(I,iii,90).

Likewise, Juliet consents to "look to like" when her mother asks her about marrying Paris, but she chooses at the feast to talk with Romeo, even allowing him to kiss her without any more objection than saying "You kiss by the book" (I,v,105), meaning "You are just being gallant."  Obviously, then, she is not offended by Romeo's advances.  And, when she learns that Romeo is a Montague, her response is one of her own volition as well:  "My only love sprung from my only hate!" (I,v,133)

In the famous orchard scene as Romeo stands beneath her balcony in Act II, Juliet declares that she gives her love to Romeo:

My love as deep; the more I give to thee,/The more I have, for both are infinite. (II,ii,134-135)

More than fate, it is the impetuosity of the lovers that seems to control them.  Romeo pleads with the Friar to marry Juliet and him, he does listen to Mercutio and steps between him and Tybalt in their fight, causing Mercutio to be gravely wounded.  Nor does he listen to Friar Laurence's advice after he is banished to wait until he has word from the priest before doing anything regarding his relationship with Juliet; instead, after speaking with his man, Balthasar, Romeo impulsively declares, "Then I defy you, stars!" (V,i,24).  

Similarly, Juliet reacts impulsively to Tybalt's death and to her betrothal to Paris, rushing to Friar Laurence's and threatening the priest that she will kill herself:

I'll to the Friar, to know his remedy./If all else ail, myself have power to die." (III,v,241-242)

When given the vial to drink, Juliet drinks of it freely--no one forces it upon her.

At the catacombs, Romeo and Juliet commit their final impetuous acts:  Believing that Juliet is dead, although he sees the bloom of life upon her cheek, Romeo consumes the poison he has hurriedly purchased from the desperate apothecary.  In disobedience to Friar Laurence, Juliet stays in the catacombs after she regains conscienceness only to discover her dead love, Romeo.  Impulsively, she, too, kills herself, crying "O happy dagger!" (V,iii,169)

Clearly, the young lovers have character flaws; however, they make their own choices although these choices are governed by their impetuous young natures.  Indeed, their destinies/fates are a matter of choice. 


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure I understand, but I think you are asking for an argument that says Romeo and Juliet are actually controlling their own actions (rather than being controlled by fate).

To me, they are largely in control of their own actions.  It is fate that they should be attracted to each other.  And it is fate that their families are enemies.  But what they do about it is not necessarily fated.

Although they were attracted to each other, Romeo didn't have to go to Juliet's house, climb the wall, and talk to her on the balcony.  She didn't have to talk to him.  Romeo didn't have to go ask Friar Lawrence to marry them.  These were all choices that the two of them made.

Attraction may be fate, but what you do about it isn't.  Imagine, for example, if one of them had already been married.  Juliet implies that if Romeo had been married, she wouldn't have pursued him (she would have just died, metaphorically).  So she's saying that she's attracted to him, but she won't go after him if he's married.  If you can be attracted to someone but not act on it because they're married, then clearly your actions are under your own control.

So, they may be fated to fall for each other, but they chose to do something about it.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most overwhelming arguments against this premise is that both characters do utilize their own sense of free will in trying to be with one another.  There is little indicating that they know that they are fated or predestined to either be with or apart from one another.  At the same time, I think that they believe in the sincerity of their actions and convictions.  The manner in which they act is one where youth and freedom go together quite seamlessly.  I think that that are not controlled by a sense of fate or destiny as they do fully understand that their freedom is something within their control.  When Juliet hesitates about taking the potion, she is debating about how she uses her freedom and not if she is controlled by a higher form of destiny.

abd0 | Student

"Prodigious birth of love it si to me

That i must love a lothed enemy"

this quote shows her fate  and it means that it was written that they will fall in love with each other and he will crash in to the Capulet party and will meet his beloved and that destiny will take them to their death   it was written in their destiny

So their fate and destiny was written from the day they were born

This are my own feelings and thoughts

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Romeo and Juliet

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