What did Shakespeare's audiences believe about fate and fortune?

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Shakespeare took his play, Romeo and Juliet, from Arthur Brooke's The Tragically Historie of Romeus and Juliet. Brooke noted in his Historie how Elizabethan audiences felt about fate, and Shakespeare emphasized this when he wrote his play. When Romeo and Juliet speak of fate or fortune, they are reflecting the beliefs of Shakespeare's audiences about fate or fortune. Romeo refers to fate just after he realizes Mercutio is dead because he has just come from marrying Juliet, and he must now revenge Mercutio's death against Tybalt, his cousin by marriage now. In Act III, scene 5, he says, "O Fortune, Fortune, all men call thee fickle;..." Throughout the play, fate is blamed for what goes wrong, and the audiences believed this because they believed fate/fortune affected their own lives.


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