Who or what is to blame for the tragic outcome of Romeo and Juliet?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, two families are feuding. Because of the dangerous attitudes of the Capulets and Montagues, a tragedy occurs. Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet end their lives due to fact that they cannot freely love one another. The murderous animosity between the two families keeps the two "star-crossed" young lovers apart. 

If the Montagues and Capulets had not been enemies, Romeo and Juliet could have loved one another freely. Since the two families hate one another, Romeo and Juliet had to keep their love a secret. Juliet could not love Romeo without her family's destructive interference. Romeo could not love Juliet without his family's destructive interference.

Because two families would not end the feud, Romeo and Juliet had to make secretive plans to be together. When Friar Laurence's plan--giving Juliet a sleeping potion--failed to reach Romeo's ears, he planned his own suicide, thinking Juliet was actually dead. When Juliet awakened, she discovers her Romeo is dead. She kills herself with Romeo's dagger. Two innocent lives are forever in eternity. Romeo and Juliet could not be together because of their families' hatred for one another. 

When Juliet's and Romeo's dead bodies are discovered, even the Prince blames their deaths on the two feuding families.

The Prince chastises both Montague, whose wife has just died from grief, and Capulet, telling them that this event is the product of their hate...because they are all to blame for the feud.

Ironically, the two families decide to end the feud after losing Romeo and Juliet:

These losses, as promised, bring the end of the feud—Capulet and Montague swear to raise monuments to the other's child, now cured by the love of Juliet and her Romeo.