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In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare presents a world that Elizabethans believed was ruled by destiny. One's "fate" was unavoidable."
There has been extensive discussion for hundreds of years as to whether the lovers are victims of fate. Students in classrooms debate whether or not Romeo and Juliet could have made different choices that might have allowed disaster to be avoided at the end of the play.
Consider the prologue, where in the Chorus (before Act I begins), it is announced that the story that will commence involves two star-crossed lovers (whose doom is fated). Shakespeare presents us (the audience) with the concept that the end of the play is cast in stone, unchangeable.
Fate and fortune are closely related...both concern events that are out of human control.
The Elizabethan audience believed that fate controlled their lives, and the characters of the play also reflect this concept. When Romeo and his friends discuss attending the Capulet party (and remember Romeo is a Montague, the enemy), Romeo (in his discussion with Mercutio) worries because of a dream he has had that foreshadows his own death.
The audience of the time would have understood and identified with this feeling, believing that free will was not what guided their lives but fate did: life was a story written before they were born that could not be altered. Fate and luck (fortune) are intermingled, and are discussed by Juliet, Friar Lawrence, etc. Though Romeo tries to fight fate by committing suicide, in reality, Romeo simply fulfills his fate—according to Shakespeare. Shakespeare points out to his audience the belief that no one can avoid his/her fate.
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