Who or what is the most to blame for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths in Romeo and Juliet?

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katemschultz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In one sense, you could argue that the feud is responsible for Romeo's and Juliet's death.  If the families had not being fighting and has not had bitter hatred toward each other, Romeo and Juliet falling in love would not have been a problem.

Romeo's impetuousness, or the general rash decisions that both Romeo and Juliet make, can be the cause of their deaths.  If both had just slowed down, thought things through and didn't feel so desperate, perhaps their lives would have turned out differently.  However, they were working against time, as Romeo was banished and Juliet was to be marrying Paris soon.

The most obvious cause of Romeo's and Juliet's death is fate.The prologue spells it out rather clearly:

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove.. (emphasis added)

Before anything else, Shakespeare indicates that Romeo and Juliet will die--there's no other way that this play could end.  The actions of the play could be different, but the outcome will always be the same.  Many argue the idea of fate versus free-will, but Shakespeare is very clear as to what he believes is responsible for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths.


shiloh96 | Student

There are many people to blame for the death's of Romeo and Juliet.  You could blame it on the parents, Friar Lawrence, Friar John, Balthasar, Romeo, and fate.  Juliet's parents forced her to marry Paris, which is one of the main reason's they attempted Friar Lawrences plan.  They didn't understand why Juliet wouldn't marry Paris, her father even threatened to throw her out on the streets when she declared she didn't want to marry Paris. 

You could then blame Friar Lawrence because he was the one who proposed the dangerous plan.  He did understand that it was dangerous, but decided to go along with it when Juliet threatened with suicide.  He is also to blame because he married them, so that added an extra comlication when Juliet was told she had to marry Paris.

Also, there was Friar John because he didn't deliver the letter on time, but he wouldn't be the most to be blamed.

You could also blame Balthasar because he was the one that brought Romeo the news of Juliet's death. 

I believe Romeo is the one most to blame, because he overeacted to much and because he killed Tybalt.  When he kiled Tybalt everything just began to spiral out of control.  Since he kiled Tybalt he was banished which added another complication to the situation.  The next reason it was his fault is because believed his life was over when he couldn't be with Juliet. He didn't even check to see if Balthasar's information was correct before going to the apothecary.  Once he got to the tomb he noticed that Juliet didn't really look dead, but still drankt the poison.

Lastly, you could blame fate.  In the prolouge the chorus says           A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;  
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.     So, fate could also be blamed.  Romeo strongly belived that fate ruled his life.  He refered to it often in the play.