Who or what is responsible?Was it Romeo's and Juliet's youth experiecne, the interference of the aduldts in the play, or the influences of fate and/or chance on the lives of the characters? Why?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All of the above.  As the Prologue provides a summary of the play, it is stated that these are

1. "star-crossed lovers," - It is chance that Romeo spots Juliet and becomes infatuated with her.  It is chance that Romeo comes into the street and happens upon the quarrel between Mercutio and Tybalt, thus effecting his banishment after he vengefully kills Tybalt, and it is chance that the plague falls upon Mantua and Romeo does not receive the message for him.  It is even chance that the guards come and Friar Lauence runs off and is, then, not present to prevent their suicides.

2.  They have "misadventured piteous overthrows." Romeo and Juliet both speak impulsive words in the orchard scene, they are quickly and secretly married, Romeo in sudden anger slays Tybalt, an act which banishes him from Verona, Juliet drinks the vial prepared by Friar Laurence, and they both commit suicide.

3. They suffer from "their parents' rage." It is the "ancient grudge" which begins the problems that Romeo and Juliet first encounter, and from then on, complications of this feud effect the major conflicts in the play.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The easiest answer is that Romeo and Juliet are responsible for their own deaths because they committed suicide. No one forced Romeo to drink poison or Juliet to stab herself. However, it could also be argued that the adults forced them into a corner where they felt they had no other options. Neither Romeo nor Juliet's parents would have allow them to date. Their families hatred left them with few options. One could also argue that the friar played a significant role in their demise. It was his plan to fake Juliet's death. It was his miscommunication with Romeo that lead to his return to Verona without knowledge that Juliet was still alive. The friar was also the last one to see Juliet alive. The friar was Romeo's confidant just as the nurse was Juliet's. The nurse gave Juliet inconsistent advice which contributed to her state of melancholy. Romeo and Juliet's youth or the interference of the adults in the play would be easier to find supporting details for a paper than arguing it was all fate.
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
While I think Shakespeare is building the case for fate, from the prologue on, I also think it was with a wink and a nod. We cannot just excuse things that happen to us by saying they are fated. Romeo and Juliet had free will. They made their own choices. I do not think Shakespeare thought that events in our lives are predetermined. It does make a good story though, doesn't it? Writers have used this idea over and over. By setting up events that seem fated, they ask us to consider our own choices.
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's definitely their own fault.  They were too young and too impetuous and lacked the maturity to think through the consequences of their actions.  The first post is right in that many people had a hand in creating the circumstances that led to Romeo and Juliet's deaths.  However, the basic reason was that the two of them became so infatuated with one another that they never stopped to think about what they were doing.  Other options were open to them, but they never looked for those options.

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question