Who is to blame for the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet?

enotes | Student

Shakespeare makes it plain that although the story of the young lovers is a tragedy, they are in no way to blame for the fate that befalls them. Instead, the responsibility for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet is assigned to their warring families. Clearly, absent the long-standing and pointless feud between the Capulets and the Montagues, Mercutio and Tybalt would not have died and Romeo would not have been exiled from Verona. Within the families, Tybalt and Juliet's father, Old Capulet, are responsible for the immediate dilemma that the lovers confront. But beyond this, the Prince of Verona bears a portion of the blame for his failure to strictly enforce the ban on dueling between the two families. By the same token, Friar Laurence shoulders part of the responsibility; he agreed to the conduct the clandestine marriage of the teenagers realizing the dangers, and it is he who concocts the scheme of Juliet's feigning death. At the end of the play, the Prince asserts that "some will be pardon'd and some punished" (V, iii, l.308) for the deaths of Juliet and her Romeo. But he does not mete out responsibility, and in the end, the issue of "who" is to blame remains open-ended.

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Romeo and Juliet

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