Fate is an essential element in Romeo and Juliet. The audience is continually reminded that, whatever action they may take, the two lovers are fated to die. Their death is first foreshadowed in the prologue:
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
Romeo and Juliet are born, dead, and buried within the space of four lines. Both are at least periodically aware of what fate has in store for them. Before he first encounters Juliet, when Benvolio tells him that they will be late for the Capulets' ball, Romeo replies:
I fear, too early: for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night's revels and expire the term
Of a despised life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
Even when they are together, Juliet has a similar—though less specific—premonition of disaster when she says,
I have no joy of this contract to-night:
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say "It lightens."
Later, the last time they see each other alive, Juliet's fears are both more precise and more frightening. Her final words to Romeo before he leaves for Mantua are
O God, I have an ill-divining soul!
Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low,
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb:
Either my eyesight fails, or thou look'st pale.
Romeo has already declared himself to be "fortune's fool" after killing Tybalt. When he hears of the death of Juliet, he understands that fate is against him and cries out:
Is it even so? then I defy you, stars!
When he arrives at Juliet's tomb and finds Paris there, Romeo kills his rival before discovering his identity. When he does see Paris's face, he feels no animosity, but instead feels a sense of kinship since he sees that they have both been the playthings of fate:
One writ with me in sour misfortune's book!
I'll bury thee in a triumphant grave
When Friar Laurence arrives on the scene and sees both Romeo and Paris dead, he comes to the same conclusion and tries to persuade Juliet to come away with him:
A greater power than we can contradict
Hath thwarted our intents.
This attempt, however, is useless, as it was fated to be.