Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is a theme in Romeo and Juliet, act 3 explained?

A theme in Romeo and Juliet, act 3 is fate's effects on human plans. This act shows joy and optimism turning to despair, as the plans of the lovers and Friar Laurence are torn apart by fate.

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Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet ends with Friar Laurence joining the two lovers as man and wife. He does so because he believes that the feuding families, given time, may be united by this marriage. But for the doom-laden words of the prologue, we might be watching a comedy at this point.

Act 4 begins with Friar Laurence desperately trying to put Paris off, as he insists on a wedding ceremony that the Friar knows he cannot perform without violating the laws of God and man. Tybalt is dead. Mercutio is dead. Romeo is banished, and Juliet is close to suicide.

Act 3, therefore, is the pivotal point in the play when everything goes wrong. The joy of first love which was the keynote of act 2 turns to the bitterness of separation. The idea that the families will be reconciled to the marriage and become friends is quickly abandoned. The theme of the act, therefore, is best summed up by Robert Burns, in lines which have also provided the title of one of the great American books about plans going wrong in the face...

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