Discussion Topic

Responsibility for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare's play

Summary:

The responsibility for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare's play is shared among several characters, including the feuding families, Friar Laurence, and the lovers themselves. The Montagues and Capulets' ongoing conflict creates a toxic environment, while Friar Laurence's well-intentioned but flawed plans contribute to the tragedy. Ultimately, Romeo and Juliet's own impulsive decisions also play a crucial role in their demise.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who was responsible for Romeo and Juliet's death?

Two sets of people are responsible for their deaths: their families, and the lovers themselves.

If their families had not been feuding, there would have been no real barrier to them marrying (except, perhaps, their ages, and in the play it is noted that woman younger are married). The inability to resolve this conflict created the barrier.

Then, of course, Romeo and Juliet are responsible. They leap to conclusions and kill themselves.

Last Updated on

Videos

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is most at fault for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

Pretty much every character contributed to Romeo and Juliet's deaths in one way or another. Many believe that Romeo and Juliet themselves are the most responsible for their deaths. They committed suicide, therefore they are to blame.

However, in my opinion, the answer is not so clear-cut. Romeo and Juliet were too young and too distraught to make rational decisions. Even though they ultimately committed suicide, their suicides were the result of a chain of very unfortunate events.

I think the biggest blame should fall on the two families and their feud. The rivalry, hate, and anger between these two families was what caused Romeo and Juliet to believe that they couldn't be together in the first place.

Also to blame are Mercutio and Tybalt. Their fight escalated an otherwise almost stable situation. Tybalt killed Mercutio while dueling with Benvolio, and Romeo then killed Tybalt. Romeo was banished as a result. This set off a chain of events which was too fast and unpredictable for Romeo and Juliet to fight or control.

Finally, timing, although not a character, is a huge contributing factor to Romeo and Juliet's deaths. A misunderstanding caused Romeo to think that Juliet was actually dead when in reality she was only unconscious from the Friar's potion. All Romeo needed was for Friar Laurence to contact Romeo earlier or for Juliet to wake up a few minutes before he took the poison.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Are Romeo and Juliet or other characters more to blame for their deaths in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

I would actually argue that both Lords Capulet and Montague are more directly responsible for the deaths of their children than either Romeo or Juliet are responsible. It is Lords Capulet and Montague's arrogance, stubbornness, hatred, and anger that is allowing the ancient feud to persist, even causing three civil outbreaks, as Prince Escalus informs us in his first speech,

Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word
By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
Have thrice disturb'd the quiet of our streets. (I.i.85-87)

The phrase, "an airy word," can be translated to refer to a "trivial," or unimportant comment. In other words, the Prince is telling us that their arrogance and their hatred towards each other incites them to such rages that their fights can even turn into whole city riots, like we see in the opening scene.

Capulet's and Montague's violent emotions not only wreak havoc on the city, their emotions also influence the emotions and choices of other characters, such as Tybalt. Tybalt would be the next person who is most to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. He has a hotheaded and fiery temper and the family feud serves to fan these flames of his. One instance in which we see Tybalt's fiery temper lead him to make a bad decision takes place in the first scene. When Tybalt sees Benvolio with his sword drawn, Tybalt immediately assumes that Benvolio is fighting the servants and challenges Benvolio himself, when in reality Benviolio is trying to stop the servants from fighting. We see Tybalt make this erroneous assumption in his lines, "What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? / Turn thee, Benvolio! look upon thy death" (I.i.61-62). Tybalt's poor decision to fight Benvolio leads to the whole city riot and his further poor decisions lead to several deaths, including Romeo's and Juliet's. While Tybalt's temper and irrational mind are responsible for his actions and the deaths they cause, it is the family feud that is fueling his actions. Hence, again, the family feud led by Lords Capulet and Montague is the most to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is most to blame for the bad choices in Romeo and Juliet?

Romeo and Juliet both make impulsive, bad decisions that end with each of them committing suicide.

First, Romeo shows his impulsive nature when he says,

O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear; Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear! So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows, As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows. The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand, And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand. Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night. (act 1, scene 5)

Here he is proclaiming his love for Juliet, whom he just met—right after wallowing in his sadness over his unrequited love for Rosaline. He changes his mind quickly and doesn't think things through.

Later, Juliet shows her impulsive nature when she talks about marrying Romeo. Even though she knows they are moving too fast, she is caught up in her love, or infatuation, for him.

Three words, dear Romeo, and good night indeed. If that thy bent of love be honourable, Thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow, By one that I’ll procure to come to thee, Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite; And all my fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay And follow thee my lord throughout the world. (act 2, scene 2)

Even though it was a decision made for love, getting married so quickly without the support of their families was the first bad decision that both Romeo and Juliet made.

Later, when Romeo thinks Juliet is dead, he says,

And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss A dateless bargain to engrossing death! Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide! Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark! Here’s to my love! [Drinks] O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die. (act 5, scene 3)

Again his impulsive and impatient nature drive him to make an awful decision to end his own life. Instead of asking someone to help, asking someone what happened, or finding someone to console him, he impulsively decides he cannot go on living.

When Juliet wakes and realizes that Romeo is dead, she says,

What’s here? a cup, closed in my true love’s hand? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end: O churl! drunk all, and left no friendly drop To help me after? I will kiss thy lips; Haply some poison yet doth hang on them, To make die with a restorative. (act 5, scene 3)

Here, Juliet also acts impulsively. Similar to Romeo, she doesn't reach out for help. She instead makes a rash decision and tragically ends her own life.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

In the prologue, Shakespeare identifies fate as the culprit responsible for Romeo and Juliet's death, calling them "star-crossed lovers." The feud between their families is also largely responsible for their deaths. As they both recognize during the balcony scene, the family feud makes it impossible to openly declare their love. As Juliet declares, "Wherefore are thou Romeo," meaning why are you a Montague, a forbidden love?

However, if we must assign individual blame, it can be shared between the friar and Romeo. The friar did not have to secretly marry the two young people. In fact, some critics have noted the symbolism of Romeo meeting him in a herb garden amid both poisons and potions: the friar can be seen as the serpent in the garden, leading the young couple astray. Especially at the end, with his scheme of having Juliet drink a potion that feigns death, the friar, to save himself from exposure, risks Juliet: the honest path would have been to confess to Lord Capulet that he had married her to Romeo.

Romeo is also to blame. He is younger, so the friar arguably should have behaved more as the adult in the room, but Romeo's impetuous impulsivity and entitled desire to always immediately have what he wants paves the way for disaster. Coercing a starving apothecary into illegally selling him poison and then dramatically taking it as soon as he sees the seemingly dead Juliet are both the acts of a typical adolescent, but these acts are disastrous.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

The question of who is to blame for the young lovers' deaths in Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet is a subjective one with many possible answers depending on one's interpretation of the play. Prince Escalus himself comes to no verdict in the final scene, instead parting with the open-ended proclamation: "some shall be pardoned and some punished."

One could argue that Romeo and Juliet are themselves the most directly responsible, as it is by their own hands that the newly-wedded pair takes their lives. However, this argument ignores the larger picture that has driven Romeo and Juliet to this point.

On the other end of the spectrum, one could zoom far out and argue that, on a societal level, it is the long-standing feud between their families that is to blame for their deaths, thus placing the blame on Lords Capulet and Montague as the heads of each respective house. If there had not been this barrier to Romeo and Juliet entering into a relationship, and had Lord Capulet not been pressuring Juliet to marry Paris, the ending of the play could have been easily avoided. Indeed, at the end of the play both men agree to put aside their longstanding rivalry to prevent what happened to their children from ever happening again.

The strongest argument, however, is that Friar Laurence is the most to blame. As Romeo's close confidant and frequent adviser to the titular star-crossed lovers, it is Friar Laurence's advice that guides the course of their relationship, and it is his plan that ultimately goes awry. He is the one who gives Juliet the potion to help her fake her own death. He is the one who tries and fails to get a message to exiled Romeo to tell him of this plan. He is also the only one who could have really prevented Romeo and Juliet from killing themselves, but he arrives at the tomb too late—just after Romeo has already killed himself—and then he leaves Juliet there alone, enabling her to stab herself. In the final scene of the play, he tells the whole story to the lovers' fathers and the Prince, saying,

"and, if aught in this
Miscarried by my fault, let my old life
Be sacrificed, some hour before his time,
Unto the rigour of severest law."

Here, he acknowledges himself that he may have had some hand in how events unfolded and offers himself up to the mercy of the Prince.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

There are several characters who could be considered most to blame for the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet, beginning with the Capulets and Montagues. It is their longstanding family feud that prevents Romeo and Juliet from publicly expressing their love. The bitter family feud forces Romeo and Juliet to conceal their love and marry in private at Friar Laurence's cell. If their families were on good terms, Romeo would have been officially invited to the Capulet ball and Tybalt would not have been offended by his presence. Romeo could have simply approached Juliet, and the two lovers would have been more than happy to publicly reveal their strong feelings for each other.

Tybalt can also be blamed for Romeo and Juliet's tragic deaths. Tybalt's aggression influences Romeo to intervene in his fight with Mercutio, leading to the death of Romeo's close friend and his eventual exile. If Tybalt were not such a hothead, Mercutio would still be alive and Romeo would have never been banished. It is Romeo's banishment and Paris's sudden marriage proposal that influence Friar Laurence to devise a faulty plan in hopes of reuniting the lovers.

One can also place the blame on Romeo for his and Juliet's tragic deaths. Romeo's impulsive, rash actions influence him to marry Juliet in secret. Rather than taking things slow with Juliet and considering their family feud, Romeo insists on marrying her. His impetuous personality also influences him to react out of passion and kill Tybalt. It is Romeo's rash behavior that also causes him to commit suicide at the end of the play.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

There are several people that could be blamed for the deaths of these two young people, including their parents, by keeping the feud between the two families going. Mercutio can be blamed, to some degree. He was the one who got Romeo to go to the ball. When Mercutio was killed, Romeo avenged his death, and ended up having to leave Verona instead of staying with Juliet.

However, one of the characters who is most to blame could be Friar Laurence. Friar Laurence was the wise adviser to Romeo and Juliet. He kept their secret and helped them be together. He was the one who married the two, hoping that the marriage would cause an end to the feuding. He was the one who came up with the idea of giving Juliet the potion to put her in a coma-like state for 42 hours. He wrote a letter to Romeo, explaining the plan, but the letter never reached Romeo. After the two of them died, the Friar left, so his plan was never found out. Friar Laurence, being a man of God, could have gone to the families and told them that the feuding had to end. They may have listened to him. They trusted him. The nurse is another one who can be blamed, as well. She was Juliet's trusted friend. She sent letters to Romeo for Juliet. She helped Juliet when she was going to marry Romeo. When it was told that Romeo was gone, the nurse agreed that Juliet should marry Paris. She didn't stand up for Juliet's love for Romeo.

Some of the blame also has to be placed on the shoulders of Romeo and Juliet. They were young and reckless. Instead of trying to figure out a way to make their relationship work, they both killed themselves. They have to be held responsible to some extent. This beautiful tragedy has many people that can be blamed. Two young people, who truly loved each other, felt that they had no other choice than to do what they did. The people in their lives could have prevented all of this. That is the true tragedy.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

Just about every character can be blamed for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, including Romeo and Juliet. Since the Montagues and Capulets are warring families, Romeo and Juliet both realize their marriage could very likely end in bloodshed. Tybalt can be blamed for Romeo’s death since his quick temper results in Mercutio’s death and Romeo’s exile. Friar Lawrence and the Nurse can both be blamed because they enable the marriage. Friar Lawrence marries them in secret, and the Nurse acts as a messenger of sorts between Romeo and Juliet. Even Mercutio could be blamed, since his rash decision to fight Tybalt results in his death and Tybalt’s. All of these characters contribute in some way to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, for each hasten fate to its tragic conclusion.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

On one hand, one might claim that Romeo's and Juliet's parents are to blame for their children's deaths.  After all, these children were raised in a culture of aggression where they have learned that hating their family's enemy is crucial and that violence is often the answer to problems.  Were it not for the families' grudge against one another, Romeo and Juliet might have been free to tell their parents about their feelings or they might not have been so quick to jump to violent action as an answer.

On the other hand, one could blame the Nurse and Friar for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.  Romeo and Juliet are children, and they are encouraged by these two adults who they trust to go forward with the relationship.  The Nurse serves as a go-between for them, the Friar marries them in secret, and he even comes up with the plan for Juliet to fake her own death.  If the Nurse and the Friar had advised the couple to speak with their parents, it is possible that they would not have ended up dead.  It is even possible that their parents might have been supportive of the match.  The chorus says in the prologue that Romeo and Juliet come from "two households, both alike in dignity," and this statement makes it clear that the families are equal in status.  Further, when Tybalt gets angry that Romeo has attended the Capulets' party uninvited, Lord Capulet says that "Verona brags of [Romeo] / [As] a virtuous and well-governed youth" (1.5.76-77).  In other words, then, he has nothing against Romeo, personally, and has actually heard good things about him.  Further, at the end of the play, when the deaths of these youths have been discovered, Montague vows to erect a golden statue of Juliet to honor her faithfulness, and Capulet makes a similar promise to commission a statue of Romeo to lie by "his lady's" (5.3.314).  Thus, when the families learn how much their children loved each other, they try to honor that love.  Therefore, it seems entirely possible that if the Nurse and Friar had encouraged the lovers to be honest with their families, the play might have turned out very differently.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

The question is actually more difficult than it seems since there are so many factors one needs to consider in order to make a final determination. One should understand that the tragedy arose because of a number of unfortunate issues and events which all added to the drama.

In the first place, if there had been no feud between the two families, the tragedy might never have occurred, for it was the primary cause for all the succeeding events. It was because of this that our two star-crossed lovers had to meet in secret, Tybalt killed Mercutio, Romeo retaliated by killing Tybalt and Romeo was banished. Furthermore, the feud also led to friar Laurence marrying the two doomed lovers in secret in the hope that their marriage would lead to a resolution of the conflict between the two families.

It is, therefore, clear that all those involved in these circumstances were in some way or another complicit in the eventual suicide of the two infatuated youngsters, including themselves. They were much too impulsive and naive and quickly accepted whatever guidance they were given, especially by friar Laurence. The question, however, remains: who, out of all those involved, was most responsible?

Clearly, the one whose actions led directly to their demise should be seen as most complicit in this regard, and it seems as if friar Laurence is the most guilty. Firstly, he is the one who so easily acquiesced to Romeo's request for a marriage. Instead of advising against such an impulsive step, the friar naively assumed that it would act as an incentive for the warring families to realize the folly of their fight since love conquers all. He tells Romeo in Act 2, scene 3:

But come, young waverer, come, go with me,
In one respect I'll thy assistant be;
For this alliance may so happy prove,
To turn your households' rancour to pure love.

His meddling, though, created more problems. 

Added to that, the friar's support for their illicit affair encouraged the two lovers and was most probably the reason why Romeo refused to engage Tybalt in a swordfight leading to Mercutio's fiery intervention and subsequent death. This, in turn, led to avenging his best friend's death and he killed Tybalt in a subsequent duel. He was then banished at the risk of death. 

Furthermore, it was the friar who told Juliet to drink a sleeping potion to fake her own death so that she could escape having to marry Paris. It would have been immoral for her to do so since she was already married to Romeo, and she obviously did not love Paris. The friar tells her in Act 4, scene 1:

Take thou this vial, being then in bed,
And this distilled liquor drink thou off;
When presently through all thy veins shall run
A cold and drowsy humour, for no pulse
Shall keep his native progress, but surcease:
No warmth, no breath, shall testify thou livest;
The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade
To paly ashes, thy eyes' windows fall,
Like death, when he shuts up the day of life;
Each part, deprived of supple government,
Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death:
And in this borrow'd likeness of shrunk death
Thou shalt continue two and forty hours,
And then awake as from a pleasant sleep. 

This act brought about greater complications since Romeo did not receive the friar's urgent message about Juliet's true condition and he, believing that she was indeed dead, killed himself; she later did the same on discovering her love's corpse next to her.

The friar's actions truly epitomise the expression: 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.' It was his desire to do good that directly led to the unfortunate deaths of both our inexperienced and impulsive lovers.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

The families are most to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Without their longstanding feud, the events of the play would very likely never have happened. 

From the first brawl at the opening of the play, we see a deep-seated aggression between the Capulets and the Montagues. Tybalt sums it up best: "I hate the word as I hate hell, all Montagues and thee." Tybalt's deep-seated rage against the other family leads him to take Romeo's presence at the Capulet party as an insult, and he will later challenge Romeo because of it. This blind hatred, exemplified by Tybalt but not unique to him, puts Romeo and Juliet in a position where they must take extraordinary measures to preserve their love.  Ultimately, they are unable to continue without each other, but it was the hatred of the families that set the circumstances for their ultimate demise. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

This is an often-considered question and you should definitely check out the link below for further discussion. I consider myself somewhat biased in this analysis because I always felt as though Juliet portrayed such maturity and loyalty that she did not deserve to be mixed up with such a childish young man as Romeo. She was only thirteen years old, yet the adults around her and the man she chose to love let her down. In my opinion, then (and it simply comes down to a subjective analysis), Romeo is most at fault for three reasons stemming from his inability to listen to the truth.

First, he should have listened to himself. In Act I, Scene 4 after Mercutio's narcissistic Queen Mab speech, Romeo tells the audience in an aside that he feels whatever comes next (he's on his way to Capulet's party) will lead to his death. He says,

I fear too early, for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night’s revels, and expire the term
Of a despisèd life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
Romeo is right. He will meet Juliet at the party and set in motion a tragic sequence of events. He does have, however, two more chances to listen and act accordingly.
In Act II, Scene 2, the balcony scene, Juliet urges Romeo to go home and think about things before going any further. She thinks she has been too forward and their love has moved too quickly. She says,
Although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract tonight.
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say “It lightens.” Sweet, good night.
This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath,
May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.
Of course Romeo doesn't listen to her and jumps into his proposal of marriage. Juliet is too smitten not to agree. She is in love, probably for the first time in her life, and is easily led. Romeo has one more chance to listen as he seeks out Friar Laurence.   Three times Friar Laurence advises Romeo to slow down and not get carried away by his emotions. In Act II, Scene 3, after he has unwisely agreed to marry Romeo and Juliet, the Friar says,
Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.
The Friar sends mixed messages but is again pleading with Romeo for patience during the marriage scene, Act II, Scene 6. He says,
Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so.
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.
Romeo is deaf to the Friar's counsel. He is impetuous and carried away by his love for Juliet.   Romeo shows his true lack of maturity after the violence in Act III, Scene 1. After killing Tybalt, he hides at the Friar's cell and is distraught when he is told he has been banished. He whines and throws himself on the floor until Friar Laurence calms him down. The Friar wants Romeo to be patient, go into exile, let things get back to normal and then allow the Friar to announce the marriage. The Friar believes that all will end happily if Romeo can only show some resolve. He says in Act III, Scene 3,
But look thou stay not till the watch be set,
For then thou canst not pass to Mantua,
Where thou shalt live till we can find a time
To blaze your marriage, reconcile your friends,
Beg pardon of the Prince, and call thee back
With twenty hundred thousand times more joy
Than thou went’st forth in lamentation.
The Friar's good intentions are dashed in the end. His plot for Juliet to fake her death is foiled by circumstance (Friar John is delayed) and Romeo's typically emotional response to hearing the news of Juliet's death.   Romeo had three chances to step back, analyze the situation and act as an adult. He should have heeded his instincts and listened to his own misgivings about his future. He could have listened to Juliet and not rushed into marriage in the heat of his infatuation for her. Finally, he should have listened to the Friar and loved "moderately." Instead, he acted without thinking throughout the course of the drama, and it cost both his life and Juliet's.
Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

There is no one person responsible for Romeo and Juliet’s death, but they are each partly to blame.

Friar Lawrence takes responsibility for Romeo and Juliet’s death because he secretly married them, he gave Juliet the potion that made Romeo think she was dead, and he failed to get word to Romeo that she wasn’t.  However, there are many other people who can be considered responsible, including Montague and Capulet, Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, and Prince Escalus.

The two lovers would not have died if Juliet’s parents had not insisted that she marry Paris, so a large part of the blame belongs with them.  Montague is also responsible for continuing the feud between the two families that led the two lovers to keeping their marriage secret.

If Mercutio had not fought Tybalt, and Tybalt had not returned to fight Romeo, Romeo would not have been banished for killing Tybalt.

Now, Tybalt, take the ‘villain’ back again

That late thou gavest me; for Mercutio's soul

Is but a little way above our heads,

Staying for thine to keep him company.

Either thou or I, or both, must go with him. (Act 3, Scene 1)

The prince is also partly to blame, because he could have found a better way to deal with the feud.  He seems very frustrated with the two families, because people are dying in the streets due to the silly feud.  Considering the circumstances of Romeo’s killing Tybalt he just banishes him, but he could have looked into the situation a little more. If Romeo had not been banished he would not have fled and then returned to find Juliet supposedly dead.

Finally, you can’t forget to lay blame on the star-crossed lovers themselves.  Romeo and Juliet act impulsively, irresponsibly, and foolishly from the beginning of the play until the end.  They did not need to marry in secret, Juliet did not need to fake her death, and Romeo did not have to kill himself as soon as he saw her.  Likewise, Juliet might have put some thought into it before killing herself when she awoke to find Romeo dead.

Although the deaths of the two lovers do “bury their parents’ strife,” it is certainly at a high cost.  Rash actions on most of the characters’ parts resulted in the tragedy of the young love cut short.  It is a lesson to us all to think before we act.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

It's difficult to give a definitive answer to this question, because the circumstances surrounding their deaths are the result of misunderstanding, impatience and fear, as well as timing and circumstance. One could say Romeo and Juliet themselves are responsible for their own deaths, since both of them commit suicide. But the hateful feud that divides their families and compels their parents to forbid them to see each other is also a factor. Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, kills Mercutio, Romeo's best friend, and Romeo kills Tybalt in a fit of rage, and is banished. So on some level Romeo's behavior sets in motion the events that lead to their deaths: their plot to run away, Juliet's staged death helped by the Friar, missed communication keeping Juliet's plan secret, and Romeo's misunderstanding of it that prompts him to kill himself. Since Romeo is characterized as fickle and impulsive, he could be said to be slightly more to blame. But the final lesson of the play is that the hatred of the families for one another is ultimately the cause of their deaths.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

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.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

Romeo and Juliet, while old enough to fall in love and get married secretly, are still only children.  They did have the courage to defy their families secretly but not out in the open.  They went to the Friar and the Nurse for help.

The Nurse is actively involved from Act 1 where the two meet at the ball and then pine for each other and for their misfortunes for having fallen in love with the enemy.  She is the one who listens to Juliet's wimpering and the Nurse runs errands to Romeo and to the Friar on the children's behalf.  All this running around in secret has caused a more desperate situation than necessary, when she should have spoken up.  However, remembering that she is a hired helper rather than a noble woman or family member may have had something to do with her compliance.  She acts for Juliet out of love for the girl.

The Friar also should have spoken up.  He is responsible for marrying the two and then arranging for Juliet's supposed death so that she may escape with Romeo to parts unknown.  His note goes astray so that Romeo hears only that his wife is dead.  She wakes up only to learn that her husband has killed himself, and she quickly follows.

Had the Nurse and Friar confessed to the marriage, the children wouldn't both be dead.  However, the feud probably wouldn't be resolved and the two would have been forced to get an anullment since their families would not have stood for secret marriages.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

Any number of people can be held responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Their parents can be held responsible for their stupid feud, which causes the two young people to go to such extremes to prove their love. Some blame goes to Friar Laurence for suggesting that Juliet take a potion to make it appear that she is dead. Ultimately, however, I think Romeo and Juliet take most of the blame themselves. If Juliet had not taken the potion, Romeo would not have killed himself, thinking she was dead; Juliet, likewise, would not then have killled herself when she saw Romeo's dead body. They might have found a more mature way of handling the situation, such as appealing to the Prince for help or just running off together.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

There is a great deal of debate over this very subject. Lets start with a few possibilities, and then examine what Shakespeare himself said.

First, one must consider Romeo and Juliet themselves. They are impetuous teenagers. No one was forcing them to rush into marriage, and no one forced them to take their own lives. They behaved immaturely and irrationally, and did actually commit suicide.

Second, there are many arguments for the Friar and the Nurse. As adults, and as co-conspirators, they had many opportunities to come forward and "turn the kids in". If not that, they could have at least counseled Romeo and Juliet against their choice of marriage, recognizing that it was too problematic and certainly too soon. The Nurse is the only one to encourage Juliet to leave Romeo's path, when she encourages Juliet to marry Paris. But bottom line, these adults weren't guiding their charges very well.

An argument could also be made for Mercutio and Tybalt. Had either one been able to control their temper, as Romeo asked both to do, then the events would not have been set in motion that led to Romeo and Juliet's death.

However, Shakespeare goes to great length to tell the audience that it is the parents, the families at large, and their feud that is the real cause for the teenagers' deaths. See these lines from the prologue:

The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which but their children's end naught could remove,

Their love is death-mark'd because of their parents' rage, as proven by the fact that the rage only ended when Romeo and Juliet's lives ended. Then, in the last scene, Shakespeare has the prince lay the blame on Capulet and Montague (and, incidentally, himself):

Where be these enemies?--Capulet,--Montague,--
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!
And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen:--all are punish'd.

The Prince says they are all punished for the feud by the deaths of those they love. They are responsible.

So, there's a few options for you. See which one makes the most sense for your interpretation.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

Who is most to blame is definitely an arguable question, but here are some plausible suggestions. The collapse of the support system for the young couple begins at the top. The prince of Verona fails to control his subjects. Juliet’s parents, particularly her father, sets a bad example and continually makes poor choices. The Roman Catholic Church is at fault as well, for the friar whom the pair trusts also misguides them. Lastly, because the couple has no strong adult to turn to, they are forced to rely on their own immature abilities to reason. The combined results of all these factors result in tragedy.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

In Act V, Scene 3, Friar Laurence's fear of the guards finding him in the tomb directly leads to the death of Juliet; for, had he remained with Juliet, she would not have been able to kill herself.

Friar Laurence. ....For the watch is coming. / Come, go, good Juliet, I dare no longer stay.

Juliet. Go, get thee hence, for I will not away.

[Exit Friar Laurence]

If, then, there is but one culprit who must be chosen, Friar Laurence is the most culpable as he secretly marries the lovers, he hides Romeo, and he provides Juliet with the sleeping potion; moreover, he leaves the emotionally vulnerable Juliet when he could have forced her out of the tomb with him.

His failure to speak with the parents and seek to ameliorate their hatred and his other actions go completely against his religious vows as well as being unconscionable.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

There is plenty of blame to be spread for Romeo and Juliet's death, but Lord Capulet's role in it is his insistence that Juliet marry Paris almost immediately after Tybalt's death.

Capulet misinterprets Juliet's grief and unhappiness, which is due to Romeo's banishment, as mourning her beloved cousin Tybalt. Although he has felt before that Juliet, not quite 14, is too young to marry, now he thinks it is the proper cure for her melancholy.

Capulet's heart is the right place, as he loves his daughter and wants to do what is best for her, but once he has made up his mind, his patriarchal prerogative takes over, and he loses his temper when Juliet resists the match. Rather than listen to her, he calls her a "disobedient wretch" and threatens to disown her if she doesn't comply with his demands.

Perhaps if he had not lost his temper, Juliet might have felt safe to confide in him her secret marriage to Romeo, but at this point she fears him too much. For that reason, she turns to the friar and his much riskier plot of taking a potion that feigns death. This, of course, leads to the mishap in which Romeo thinks she really has died and returns to Verona to commit suicide.

More indirectly, Capulet, though he has the power to do so, takes no concrete steps to try to the resolve the feud, even after Tybalt is killed. He knows how destructive the feud is, but he is willing to tolerate it, which means that Romeo and Juliet have to keep their love secret.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

It could be argued that Capulet is to blame for Romeo and Juliet's deaths because of his insistence that Juliet marries Paris. Although he is initially reluctant to agree to the marriage (because he feels that Juliet is too young), he soon changes his mind and realizes that Paris is an ideal suitor.

Juliet, however, does not love Paris. In fact, she meets Romeo and falls in love with him instead. When Juliet refuses to marry Paris in act 3, scene 5, Capulet becomes angry and threatens to ostracize her from the family. For a young woman, this could be disastrous:

Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!

I tell thee what: get thee to church o' Thursday,

Or never after look me in the face.

Capulet, therefore, gives Juliet a choice: she either obeys him or loses her family. His refusal to listen to his daughter forces Juliet's hands. She knows that Capulet will not accept her marriage to Romeo, therefore she must go to extreme measures to be with him.

However, there are other factors to consider when we think about responsibility. Capulet certainly plays a role, along with his wife, but the feud between the families also plays an important role, as does Friar Lawrence's ill-conceived plan.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

Romeo and Juliet’s deaths could be interpreted to be Lord Capulet’s fault because he insisted that Juliet marry Paris.

Lord Capulet is a complicated man. On the one hand, he has a fiery temper. On the other hand, he can also be reasonable. When it comes to his daughter, Capulet is very passionate. His actions unfortunately lead to Juliet’s death, and Romeo’s too.

Lord Capulet takes part in the duel in the marketplace, but he behaves more reservedly during his daughter’s party. Juliet is his prized possession. At first, he seems very reasonable. He does not want his only daughter to marry too quickly. He advises Paris to win her heart.

And too soon marr'd are those so early made.
The earth hath swallow'd all my hopes but she,
She is the hopeful lady of my earth:
But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart,
My will to her consent is but a part;
An she agree, within her scope of choice
Lies my consent and fair according voice. (Act 1, Scene 2)

He also seems to be mellow at Juliet’s ball. Tybalt is ready to fight Romeo then and there, but Capulet won’t let him. He says Romeo has a good reputation and argues that a fight will disturb their guests. Tybalt holds off until later, when he does try to engage Romeo. He kills Mercutio, who steps in to defend Romeo, and Romeo slays Tybalt.

It seems that Tybalt’s death changes things for Lord Capulet. He is so entrenched in grief that he reverses his position of patience on Juliet’s marriage. He insists that she marry Paris in only a few days. Juliet is horrified. After all, she is already secretly married to Romeo. Capulet just makes a lot of threats and seems to get angrier and angrier.

Hang thee, young baggage! disobedient wretch!
I tell thee what: get thee to church o' Thursday,
Or never after look me in the face:
Speak not, reply not, do not answer me;
My fingers itch. (Act 3, Scene 5)

He threatens to throw Juliet out if she doesn’t do what he says. She is grieving too, for her cousin and for Romeo. Her new husband was banished when he killed Tybalt. Juliet does not know what to do. She can’t marry Paris. Her only choice seems to be to go to Friar Laurence and ask for help. He gives her a potion to fake her death.

Capulet’s insistence that Juliet marry Paris immediately is what leads her to take the potion, which is what leads Romeo to think she is dead. Romeo kills himself, and when Juliet wakes up she kills herself because he is dead. Thus Capulet’s actions help lead directly to the deaths of the two young people.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

It's difficult to apportion direct blame for the tragic demise of Romeo and Juliet. As the Prologue tells us, it was the destiny of these "star-cross'd lovers" to die such a tragic death. However, if we reject the Elizabethan worldview, which held that the movements of the stars control our destinies, then there are a number of likely candidates who most certainly contribute to the play's sad outcome.

The lion's share of the blame would surely go to the heads of the Montague and Capulet families. They are the ones who've been keeping up this bloody, bitter feud, a feud which prevents Romeo and Juliet from following their lovestruck hearts and spending the rest of their lives together.

Romeo's and Juliet's parents don't see marriage in terms of love; they unthinkingly subscribe to the prevailing convention among the upper classes that marriages are nothing more than strategic political alliances between powerful families. This attitude makes it almost inevitable that Romeo and Juliet's relationship will eventually come to grief. It places one more seemingly insurmountable hurdle in their way, making it virtually inevitable that they will take increasingly dangerous risks in pursuit of their dreams.

Then there's Friar Laurence, who undoubtedly means well but, in the end, contributes to the young lovers' demise with his hare-brained scheming. His plan to have Juliet take a sleeping draught which will make everyone think she's dead is risky, to say the least—not to mention rather cruel to Juliet's loved ones.

There's so much that can go wrong with the Friar's plan, and just about everything does. A moment's reflection would have told him that he was playing with people's lives and so should've come up with a better plan, one less likely to involve such danger. His recklessness and irresponsibility arguably made a bad situation a whole lot worse.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

The feuding Capulet and Montague families are primarily responsible for the tragic deaths of Romeo, Juliet, and Paris. If both families were not hostile toward each other, Romeo and Juliet would have had no reason to hide their marriage and would more than likely have enjoyed a happy, uneventful life together.

One could also place some of the blame on Friar Lawrence and the Nurse. Friar Lawrence and the Nurse are the only two individuals who are aware of Romeo and Juliet's relationship, and they help arrange their secret marriage. Friar Lawrence's plan to give Juliet a sleeping potion backfires when his letter is not delivered to Romeo in Mantua, and he is forced to rescue Juliet from the Capulet tomb. When Romeo receives the news of Juliet's "death," he purchases poison, kills Paris at her tomb, and commits suicide. The Nurse is also aware that Juliet has already married Romeo and does not anticipate that her upcoming marriage to Paris will have a devastating impact on Juliet's psyche.

One could also argue that the hot-headed Tybalt is somewhat responsible for the lovers' deaths. If Tybalt had never challenged Romeo and fought Mercutio, Romeo would have never been banished and could have, perhaps, eventually expressed his love for Juliet publicly to end the feud.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

The most obvious culprit is the long-standing feud between the Montagues and the Capulets; thus, ignorance, spite, and a lack of forgiveness lead to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. However, we can also blame circumstance: if Friar Laurence's messenger had reached Romeo in time, he would have known that Juliet was merely asleep, and not dead in the chamber. Thus, luck and faulty communication are also responsible for the final outcome. 

We could also argue that Tybalt is to blame for instigating the duel which leads to his and Mercutio's deaths. If he had not been so hot-headed and prone to violence, a better outcome may have been achieved. Romeo, too, would also have to shoulder the blame for slaying Tybalt (and Paris).

Last, we could argue that Friar Laurence's behavior—that is, secretly marrying the couple, and encouraging Juliet to fake her own death—was irresponsible, and that he could have thought of a safer way by which to reconcile the two families.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

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.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

When it comes to who is to essentially to blame for the tragic ending of Romeo and Juliet, for the most part, we can agree with Prince Escalus's opinion expressed in the final scene. Prince Escalus very blatantly and accurately lays all blame on Lords Capulet and Montague:

    See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
    That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!
    And I, for winking at you, discords took.
    Have lost a brace of kinsmen. (V.iii.303-06)

Another important point concerning the hatred and feud can be found in the opening prologue. Shakespeare makes a point of stating that, while the feud between the two families is a longstanding one, a period of peace had been reigning, but the present generation of Montagues and Capulets had decided to rehash the old argument, as we see in the line, "From ancient grudge break to new mutiny" (First Prologue, 3). Hence it is essentially Lords Capulet and Montague's decisions that created all of the hatred and violence, leading to the play's tragic end. Had this hatred not existed, the couple's hasty marriage would not have been an issue; nor would fate have played a role in their deaths; nor would Tybalt have become so enraged by Romeo's presence at the Capulet ball, causing his own death as well Romeo's banishment and eventually Romeo's and Juliet's own deaths.

While the hatred is ultimately to blame, we must also remember that, as a tragedy, the play also contains a tragic hero. According to Aristotle's commonly accepted definition, a tragic hero must be a generally noble person who has some character flaw that leads to his/her demise. Romeo's character flaws are his impetuousness and the fact that he allows himself to be governed by his rash, passionate, intense emotions rather than by reason. Being guided by rational thought would have prevented Romeo from crashing the ball, from killing Tybalt out of revenge, and would have even helped him to realize the moment he saw Juliet in the tomb that she could not possibly actually be both dead and rosy cheeked, all of which would have prevented the couple's death in the play.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

One of the things you need to remember is that these are two doomed lovers. In the prologue, the chorus mentions theses are "star-crossed lovers". In Shakespeare's time, many people believed that our lives have already been predetermined by some higher power. All the major events have some element of chance. Romeo went to the party to see Rosalind but meets Juliet. Romeo kills Tybalt by a rash and emotional impluse and this leads to his banishment. Friar Laurence's letter doesn't reach Romeo becuase of the plague. Juliet wakes up after Romeo kills himself moments before. Perhaps the two were meant to die no matter what happens.

Some may say that it is on-going feud between the Capulets and Montagues. If feud didn't did exist, they two would still be alive and together. There wouldn't have been a fight between Tybalt and Mercutio and no reason to banish Romeo.

Others might point the finger at Friar Laurence. He was the only adult that could have done something to prevent the death of the lovers. He could have not performed the marriage rites. He could have tried to get to the tomb sooner. He could have told both families what he had done when Tybalt and Mercutio was slain.

Still others may blame Romeo's implusive nature. If he had kept his cool during the fight, he wouldn't have stabbed Tybalt. If he had tried to confirm Juliet's "death", he wouldn't have made the decision to return to Verona with a vile of posion in hand. If he had waited a moment while in the Capulet tomb, he may have seen his wife wake up and the two of them could run away to start a new life together.

When you think about it, there are so many things that one can pin the blame for this tragedy.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

There are a number of events and character choices that lead to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Rather than placing the blame on one person, let's look at all the factors that contribute to this tragic ending.

The Chorus opens the play and tells us what will happen—how the feud between these two families has deadly consequences. Overall, we could say this feud is to blame, as it drives many of the characters' choices that more directly lead to death. The Chorus tells us, "Which, but their children's end, naught could remove," which shows that nothing could have stopped the feud earlier in the play. It ends with the death of these two children.

Tybalt is a hothead, and his fight with Mercutio is a tipping point in our lovers' story. Tybalt challenges Romeo, who refuses to fight, but Mercutio steps in instead. If Tybalt backed away or if Mercutio did not take the bait, perhaps the story would have ended differently. When Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo's rage gets the best of him and he kills Tybalt, which leads to his banishment. All three of these characters make choices that contribute to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

In the final scene, Friar Laurence says he takes some of the blame. He is the one who orchestrated Juliet's sleeping potion, but alas, his letters to Romeo are not delivered. If he had been able to give Romeo warning that Juliet was merely asleep, Romeo would not have killed himself. If Juliet woke up a little sooner, Romeo would have found her alive. Of course, if we are going to place blame on the Friar, we could also place blame on the parents. Friar Laurence stepped in because Juliet was desperate after Lord Capulet demanded she marry Paris. If Lord Capulet had not set the wedding so soon, perhaps there would have been time to smooth things over and figure out a better solution.

There is plenty of blame to go around. We could even look at the small character of the apothecary, who provides Romeo with the illegal poison. By finding blame in many different characters, we see how truly these tragic events are the result of this long-standing feud.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

I would argue that their deaths are the fault of their parents.  After all, it is the feud between their parents that initially makes Romeo and Juliet off limits to one another.  If the Capulets and Montagues weren't fighting, their children would likely have been able to be honest about their mutual love.  However, that is not possible because, as they are aware, their families would never accept the relationship. 

Further, Juliet is driven to desperate means due to her parents' threats and demands.  If they were not attempting to force her to marry the County Paris against her will, she would not go to Friar Lawrence's cell begging for his assistance, he would never concoct his plan, and she would never fake her own death, an action that leads to a miscommunication of epic proportion that results in Romeo's suicide by poison, an event that leads to Juliet's suicide by dagger.  Lord Capulet is brutal to his daughter, insisting that he would let her die in the streets before he would ever help her again if she disobeys him.  If he and his wife didn't push Juliet, she would not have taken the drastic measures that resulted in her own and her husband's deaths.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

A number of characters contribute to Romeo’s banishment. Tybalt intends to challenge Romeo for attending a Capulet party. He instigates a number of fights, telling Benvolio in the first scene, “What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, / As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.” Mercutio is another hot-headed individual who gladly reciprocates Tybalt’s aggression. In spite of Benvolio’s pleas for peace, Mercutio draws and fights Tybalt after exchanging insults. Romeo attempts to control this brawl, inadvertently causing Tybalt to stab Mercutio. The death of his friend spurs Romeo to attack and kill Tybalt.

Characters in the play disagree as to who carries the blame for these deaths. Benvolio reports Romeo’s initial reluctance to fight as well as Tybalt and Mercutio’s eagerness. Lady Capulet entirely blames Romeo for his actions, but Lord Montague defends Romeo as a mere deliverer of justice: “His fault concludes but what the law should end, / The life of Tybalt.” The penalty for murder and fighting in the streets is death, so Romeo simply followed the law by executing Tybalt after he had stabbed Mercutio.

The prince is furious (partially because Mercutio was a kinsman), and he decides to fall somewhere in the middle: he exiles but does not execute Romeo, unless he returns. Tybalt started a fight, Mercutio took him up on it, Romeo killed Tybalt in revenge, and the prince punished Romeo with banishment. Therefore, Tybalt, Mercutio, Romeo, and the prince all play an important role in Romeo’s exile. The two people who may have the most to do with it, however, are Capulet and Montague, the two patriarchs who perpetuates the feud that led to all the violence in the first place.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

Feel free to answer this question with who you think is to blame. It is a question that asks for a subjective response, so the key is going to be your explanation as to why that character is to blame. This question could be made more difficult if you have to pick a single character. Tons of things go tragically wrong in this play, and I always think of a snowball rolling downhill. It gets bigger and bigger as it travels until it's an uncontrollable mess. You could list quite a few "if such and such didn't" or "if so and so didn't" statements for this play. That kind of statement can help guide you as to where blame could be placed for the events of the play. I think the friar deserves a great deal of the blame. He does very little in the way of steering Romeo toward waiting longer to take action regarding the supposed love between Romeo and Juliet. He agreed to perform the wedding ceremony and he agreed to help Juliet with her death faking. I could even place blame on Benvolio for convincing Romeo to go the Capulet party. If that didn't happen, everybody likely lives to the end of the following week. I also feel strongly that Romeo and Juliet deserve most of the blame. I understand that they are teenagers and teenagers aren't always prone to making wise decisions, but rushing into a marriage that they know their families would oppose should have been a giant red flag for them.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

A number of people are responsible for the tragic events in Romeo and Juliet, including Romeo and Juliet themselves. Since the Montagues and Capulets are feuding families, Romeo and Juliet are fully aware of the social consequences of their actions. Their decision to pursue their love, regardless of the consequences, ultimately results in their deaths. 

Another character responsible for the tragic events is Tybalt. Tybalt becomes enraged when he sees Romeo at the Capulet ball. The next day, he challenges Romeo to a duel. Romeo refuses, but Mercutio fights in his stead. Tybalt kills Mercutio, and Romeo, enraged at the death of Mercutio, kills Tybalt. This conflict violates the Prince's earlier decree, so Romeo is exiled from Verona.

Another character responsible for the tragic events is Friar Lawrence. Though well-intentioned, the Friar's decision to secretly wed Romeo and Juliet ultimately results in their respective suicides. More specifically, the Friar's decision to give Juliet the sleeping potion eventually results in Romeo mistaking Juliet for dead, and Romeo's grief causes him to commit suicide. Upon waking, Juliet sees Romeo's dead body, so she commits suicide, too.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why are the families to blame for the deaths in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

One of the major reasons for the double suicide of the title characters in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet can be traced to the sudden about-face by Lord Capulet in insisting his daughter marry Count Paris when only days before he had placed stipulations on such a marriage. In act I, scene 2, Capulet first tells Paris that Juliet is not old enough for marriage, and secondly, he says he would not agree to the union unless Paris was capable of winning Juliet's love:

But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart;
My will to her consent is but a part.
And, she agreed, within her scope of choice
Lies my consent and fair according voice.
During this exchange, and later when Capulet notes that Romeo is considered "a virtuous and well governed youth," Capulet appears to be a sympathetic and common-sense man who does not make hasty decisions. In act III, scene 5, however, Capulet abruptly changes his tune, arranging the marriage between Paris and Juliet not long after the violence in Verona's streets which claims the lives of Mercutio and Tybalt. Indeed, Capulet uses the death of Tybalt as an excuse. When Juliet, who has secretly married Romeo, recoils from the proposition, Capulet launches into a tirade complete with a litany of Shakespearean insults, labeling his daughter "green-sickness carrion," "tallow face," and "disobedient wretch." He ultimately threatens to throw her out and disown her:
Thursday is near. Lay hand on heart; advise.
An you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend.
An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,
For, by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee,
Nor what is mine shall never do thee good.
Capulet's extreme pronouncement and the nurse's later agreement with a marriage to Paris, despite knowing all about Romeo, force Juliet to seek a desperate solution to her problem. The plot hatched by Friar Laurence unfortunately goes astray, and what started with an unreasonable demand by her father leads Juliet to stab herself with Romeo's dagger.
Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

There are two good candidates for the role of scapegoat in Romeo and Juliet. A scapegoat is a person who is ultimately blamed for the mistakes or sins of others. First off, Friar Lawrence could easily be considered a scapegoat. He is responsible for marrying Romeo and Juliet, despite the perceived objections of parents who were involved in a bitter feud. He also devises the foiled plan for Juliet to fake her death and be rescued by Romeo at Capulet's tomb. His plan to get a message to Romeo is disrupted as Friar John is delayed by a plague threat in Verona. He flees the tomb after finding Romeo and Paris dead and just as Juliet is awakening. He makes a feeble attempt to pull Juliet away, but she remains to kill herself. The Friar even admits his guilt when he is apprehended in the churchyard after Romeo, Juliet and Paris are found dead in the tomb. He tells the Prince,

I am the greatest, able to do least,
Yet most suspected, as the time and place
Doth make against me, of this direful murder.
And here I stand, both to impeach and purge
Myself condemnèd and myself excused.
The Friar indicates he has already accused himself and found guilt. He goes on to retell the entire story of Romeo and Juliet's love, their marriage, the faked death and that they must have committed suicide in distress over losing each other. He agrees that if any part of the tragedy is his fault he should be put to death:
And if aught in this
Miscarried by my fault, let my old life
Be sacrificed some hour before his time
Unto the rigor of severest law.
The Prince pardons him, saying, "We still have known thee for a holy man."   Lord Capulet could also be blamed. His haste in marrying Juliet to Paris is responsible for much of the mischief which follows. He totally changes his mind about Paris in Act III. Earlier he told Paris to win Juliet's love. Now, he is willing to marry Juliet to him no matter what she thinks and, when she opposes his plan, he flies into a rage, threatening to disown her and throw her out of his house. He tells her in Act III, Scene 5,
Lay hand on heart; advise.
An you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend.
An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,
For, by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee,
Nor what is mine shall never do thee good.
Trust to ’t; bethink you. I’ll not be forsworn.
Capulet's total about-face and his quick temper force Juliet to agree to the Friar's desperate plan. Had Capulet been more understanding, the events that followed may have been averted.
Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is primarily responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths?

We have several contenders for the prize of chief responsibility for Romeo and Juliet's death. First, the lovers themselves could be said to share some blame: within days of falling head over heels in love, they are planning marriage. Perhaps they could have slowed down? Perhaps they could have thought through their decisions a bit more clearly? But young love is rash and idealistic, heady and sweet: can that be most to blame? Given the circumstances, such as the prospect of arranged marriage for Juliet and the response of the families should any hint of the lovers' affections emerge, who can really blame the two for seizing the day as quickly as possible?
What about Friar Laurence? Should he be blamed for enabling these lovers? Perhaps, but he seems more a tool of their desires that anything else, meaning if they hadn't found him, they would have found someone else to help them out. Plus, his heart was in the right place, as he wanted to end the feud (with that he does succeed).
In the end, I would side with Shakespeare that the feud itself was the undoing of the lovers, though rather than calling it "fate," or the "stars," today we might call it an example of systemic evil:
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life
In the end, the "system" that decreed that the two families be in a perpetual feud, grinding up the lives of young people (we remember others killed beside Romeo and Juliet) bears the chief responsibility for the young lovers' fate. It was the feud that did it. 
Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why are the families to blame for the deaths in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, it is not entirely obvious who is to blame for the deaths of the young lovers. There are actually multiple reasons why they die. The Preface describes the main action of the plot as follows:

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes

A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;

In Shakespeare's period many people believed in astrology. The term "star-crossed" suggests that their inevitable fate was written in the stars, and thus not avoidable.

Next, the most obvious people to blame for the deaths are the young lovers themselves, who act rashly and choose to commit suicide. 

Another event that precipitates the suicide is the letter going astray, so that Romeo does not know that Juliet is not actually dead. 

Both Friar Lawrence and the parents feel guilt at the deaths of the young lovers as well. The parents realize that had they allowed them to marry, they would not have died. Friar Lawrence blames his own schemes for their death. The Prince clearly blames the feud for the lovers' deaths, as he states:

Capulet! Montague!

See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,

That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet?

If we are to agree with Prince Escalus's view expressed in the final scene, then Lords Capulet and Montague are to blame for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths, as we see in Prince Escalus's lines:

Where be these enemies? Capulet, Montage,
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love! (V.iii.302-04)

In saying this Prince Escalus is asserting that the couple's death served as God's punishment for Lords Capulet and Montague's hatred. Since both Romeo and Juliet were their parents' only joys, and since they died in part because they had to marry in secret, Prince Escalus is also asserting that God killed Lords Capulet and Montague's only joys in life with their love for each other. While Romeo made some rash and fatal decision, and Friar Laurence also made some poor decisions, none of these mistakes would have been an issue or even existed had the two families not been involved in a longstanding feud. Therefore, Prince Escalus is perfectly right to assert that Lords Capulet and Montague are ultimately to blame for the couple's death.

Romeo made the rash decisions of crashing the Capulet's ball and of hastily marrying Juliet in secret; plus, he made the rash and fateful decision to avenge himself on Tybalt for Mercutio's death. However, had the hatred between Lords Capulet and Montague not existed, Romeo's presence at the ball would never have been an issue; the couple would never have had to marry in secret; and, Tybalt would never have challenged Romeo to a duel due to feeling insulted by Romeo's presence at the Capulet ball, resulting in Mercutio's death and Tybalt's own death, plus Romeo's banishment and eventually his own death as well. In addition, Friar Laurence made the rash but well-intentioned decision to marry the couple, which later led to the need to fake Juliet's death. When the plan to fake her death goes awry, it leads to her real death; however, neither of these things would have happened had, again, the hatred between the two families not existed. Therefore, Prince Escalus is perfectly right to place the blame all of the deaths in the play on Lords Capulet and Montague.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is more to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, fate or free will?

While fate is responsible for the fact that both Romeo and Juliet were born into two feuding families, Shakespeare makes it very evident that the events leading up to the tragic deaths are a matter of choice rather than fate.

For starters, Romeo is not only governed by his own choices, he is a very classic tragic hero and fits Aristotle's commonly accepted definition of a tragic hero by having fatal character flaws. If Romeo had no character flaws that lead to his own demise while otherwise being perfectly virtuous and innocent, the story would be less tragic. Romeo's character flaws are his impetuousness plus his tendency to be guided by his irrational emotions rather than by rational reason, and it is these character flaws that govern his choices in the play. It is through his impetuousness that he allows himself to be persuaded into crashing the Capulet's ball, even though he sensed it would lead to danger. It is through his irrational, emotional drive that he makes the choice to avenge himself on Tybalt for Mercutio's death, even though he knew Tybalt would be killed by the hands of the law. Finally, it is through his irrational emotionalism that he makes the decision to follow through with his own suicide. Shakespeare makes an important issue of the fact that Romeo notices Juliet still looks beautiful in death, that even her cheeks and lips still looked rosy, as we see in Romeo's lines:

Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath,
hath had no power yet upon thy beauty.
Thou art not conquer'd. Beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks. (V.iii.92-95)

Had Romeo been thinking a bit more rationally at this moment, rather than by being guided by his intense emotionalism, he might have stopped to realize that she really was not dead. The fact that fate misdirected Friar Laurence's letter explaining Juliet's faked death would have been insignificant had Romeo been thinking more rationally; therefore, it is really Romeo's choices, especially his choice to allow himself to be governed by his emotionalism, that leads to the tragedies in the play, especially the final tragedies.

Aside from Romeo, Shakespeare even makes a point that Lords Capulet and Montague have made choices to allow themselves to be governed by their own intense, violent, irrational emotions rather than by reason and that it is these choices that lead to the play's tragedies. We especially see this point made in Prince Escalus's speeches, particularly in the final scene, "See what a scourge is laid upon your hate, / That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!" (303-04). Notice that he is not saying fate is responsible for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths; instead, he is saying that their hatred is to blame, and Capulet and Montague made the choice to hate and to continue the feud.

Therefore, Shakespeare makes it very evident that, while fate may play a role in certain circumstances, it is ultimately choices that lead to the tragic deaths in the play.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet?

This is one of the central questions of Romeo and Juliet, and one which is left hanging, in a sense, at the end of the play, when the Prince says "Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished." In the play's prologue, Shakespeare seems to suggest that Romeo and Juliet are simply victims of fate when the Chorus calls them "star-cross'd lovers." A case could be made for many of the characters. First, both Romeo and Juliet knew perfectly well that their love would put their lives in danger in light of the violent feud between their two families. By entering into marriage, they took an enormous risk that ultimately cost them their lives. Romeo, in particular, is portrayed early in the play as impulsive in matters of love. Additionally, both the Nurse and Friar Lawrence, by assisting the young couple in their dangerous course of action, could receive  a certain share of the blame. But most fundamentally, the responsibility for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet lies with their families. By continuing with their feud, they ultimately sacrificed the lives of the two loves. Indeed, both Capulet and Montague acknowledge this fact at the end of the play, when they become reconciled.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

  1. The friar
  2. The parents
  3. Romeo and Juliet (including fate and haste)

In order to unify the three topics of the body paragraphs, you will want to tie these ideas to the one larger idea of fateful impetuousness that the "violent delights" of Romeo and Juliet effect.  This unifying idea is, then, the thesis of the essay.

For example, you could write that the aura of fateful impetuousness leads to the rash actions of the Montagues and the Capulets, "the violent delights" of Romeo and Juliet, and the poor decisions of the friar. 

  • The Montagues and the Capulets

Lord Capulet proves himself impetuous in his actions early in the play as he requests his sword when he observes the fray between several members of both the Montague and his house.  Then, in Act IV, after having advised Paris to wait for the hand of his thirteen-year-old daughter, he hastily decides that Juliet should indeed marry Paris in order to comfort her in her grief for her beloved cousin Tybalt, whom a Montague has slain.

  • Romeo and Juliet

Despite Juliet's cautious warnings in the orchard, telling Romeo not to swear by the inconstant moon, and fearful that their "contract" is "too rash, too unadvised, too sudden," she and Romeo marry after just meeting one another, despite the friar's advisory caution, "Wisely and slow.  They stumble that run fast" (2.3).  Then, Romeo endangers this marriage through his rage and reckless behavior of attacking and killing Tybalt after his friend Mercutio is slain. Further, he acts hastily as he rushes to Juliet's grave to ascertain if she is dead as he has heard.  With fatefully impetuous behavior, Romeo slays Paris who comes to find Juliet, as well. Then, tragically, when he sees Juliet, whom he assumes is dead, he impulsively takes poison.

  • Friar Laurence

Because he has agreed to perform the marriage ceremony of Romeo and Juliet, Friar Laurence feels responsibility for the young couple. So, when the frantic Juliet comes to him, he reacts with haste, feeling the forces of fate against Juliet and her Romeo and, perhaps, even him.  He then prescribes a potion to Juliet to make her appear dead, deceiving her parents so that they will be overjoyed when she awakens and then forgive her for deceiving them. He also sends a letter to Romeo, advising him; however, a plague causes the town to be quarantined and Balthasar cannot reach Romeo with the friar's message.  Consequently, the friar nervously goes to the catacombs to attend Juliet when she awakens. But, fearing the guards, he rushes out and leaves Juliet to discover her dead Romeo.

Who, then, is to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet? Perhaps all contributed to the fate of these lovers, but in the final analysis it seems Friar Laurence, who acts in loco parentis for Juliet and Romeo, marrying them and taking a private role in their lives, is the most responsible for their tragic fates.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, who is responsible for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths?

In the final scene, the Prince speaks rightly when he blames Lords Capulet and Montague for not only Romeo's and Juliet's deaths, but also for the deaths of the Prince's own relatives. The Prince blames their hatred and their feud for all of these deaths. We see this accusation in the Prince's lines:

Where be these enemies? Capulet, Montage,
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!
And I, for winking at you, discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punish'd. (Act 5, Scene 3)

However, others are also indirectly responsible for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths. While Friar Laurence broke no law nor holy sanction in marrying Romeo and Juliet without parental consent, even though his motive seems noble, one has to question the sensibleness of his decision. Friar Laurence agrees to marry them because he believed the "alliance may so happy prove, / To turn your households' rancour to pure love." In other words, he believed that uniting Romeo and Juliet in wedlock would put an end to the feud. The flaw in his plan is that the marriage was performed in secret with no immediate plan unveil the marriage. Had he been wiser, he would have foreseen that the ongoing feud would prevent any real relationship between Romeo and Juliet, sabotaging his efforts to create peace. Instead, he should have postponed the marriage until he, himself, could prepare Lords Capulet and Montague for the union. Friar Laurence continued to make things even worse by lying to Lord Capulet in helping Juliet fake her death. For all of these reasons Friar Laurence is indirectly responsible for their deaths. However, he is rightly pardoned by the Prince, because ultimately, their deaths are the fault of Lords Capulet and Montague.

Tybalt is also indirectly responsible. Had he not had such a hot-headed temper and instead agreed with his uncle to let Romeo alone for crashing the ball, Tybalt, as well as Rome and Juliet, would have remained alive. Tybalt's death led to Romeo's banishment, which led to both his and Juliet's deaths.

Finally the Prince also holds himself indirectly responsible because he did not check Lords Capulet and Montague sooner, nor try to stop the feud sooner. His personal blame is seen in the line, "and I, for winking at you, discords too, / Have lost a brace of kinsmen."

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who caused the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

What a good question! And one to which there is no one simple answer.

First, there is a potentially deadly situation: two powerful families who have been at war for as long as anyone can remember. By falling in love and insisting on being together, the lovers place themselves in grave danger. The fact that their passion is stronger than their sense of risk is another cause: their youthful folly, and the excitement of secret meetings. This is aided and abetted by Juliet's Nurse - who allows sentiment to assist putting her young charge, and her lover, at risk.

Rashness, especially Romeo's suicide when he believes Juliet to be dead and cannot live without her, is yet another factor - had he waited another few moments, he would have discovered she was alive after all. And Friar Lawrence, by suggesting such a drastic ruse, must take his share of the blame too. Whether this play lays blame on youthful impetuousness, or on the follies of those older and wiser who should have known better, is something that has posed questions for audiences ever after.

However, the one single cause of their deaths is their author: Shakespeare himself. The play is a tragedy, and in the Prologue tells us that the 'star-cross'd lovers' will 'take their life' - we can only wait for a tragic, fateful ending. It is as if Love, or this love, so young, so passionate, and so sudden, cannot be sustained and must kill the lovers - and the constant references to love/sex and death occur throughout the play, as do the extremes of love and hate. Yet it is not simple - and the play provides plenty of human agencies of the outcome (including the lovers themselves, who after all do kill themselves) and almost cliff-hanging moments when the audience can see what the protagonists cannot. Shakespeare leaves us with the irony that the Montagues and Capulets call a truce once the lovers are dead.

Posted on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is more responsible for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet: Romeo, Friar Laurence, fate, or the family feud?

The key to your question is in the phrase "all the deaths."  That is a monumental number, ... if you want to consider the deaths before the play began as well.  We have no way of knowing how long this feud has gone on.  The bloodbath is immense, I'm sure.

Therefore, I would say that if you want to generalize by saying "all the deaths," then it is the feud that is responsible for the blood.  Children have grown up with the feud.  The feud is the reason for wishing ill, even death, upon the opponent.  My guess is that many of the children have no idea why the feud continues and/or how it started.

However, if I were to pinpoint the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, I'm afraid that I can only blame those two (and those two alone) for their own deaths.  Like it or not, both of them committed suicide.  Period.  They took their own lives.  As a result, the ultimate culpability rests with them.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is more responsible for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet: Romeo, Friar Laurence, fate, or the family feud?

One point is that wisdom, restraint and common sense filter down or trickle down (like Reagan economics) from the top (and maybe just as effectively). Therefore, a disproportionate degree of responsibility rests with the counselors, overseers, advisers and guides of teenagers. These guides are meant to escort teenagers through the hard tortuous maze of life's hard decisions. In this light, Friar Laurence entirely failed Romeo and Juliet by becoming a conspirator with their impassioned and fevered plans. Therefore, in this light, the greatest responsibility rests with Friar Laurence who is the only one who may have turned their plans to a safer route.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Romeo and Juliet, is Fate or the rivalry between the two families the main reason for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths?

It is true that due to the unexplained hatred between the two families, which may or may not be due to fate, Romeo and Juliet are forced to take extreme measures to be together. Therefore, it is the lovers' actions that bring about their eventual deaths. However, it can't be ignored that fate plays more of a part than simply bringing two young people together that are from feuding families. I think it's important to examine the message that went awry toward the end of the play, the message telling Romeo of the Friar's plan and letting him know that Juliet is not really dead. It could be argued that fate was a factor in this message never getting to Romeo. I understand the plague was the driving force in keeping Friar John in Verona due to a quarantine on the city. However, fate can be argued as the cause of this. If that message had safely gotten to Romeo, the Friar's plan could have been successful and Romeo and Juliet could have conceivably lived "happily ever after".

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Romeo and Juliet, is Fate or the rivalry between the two families the main reason for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths?

One could probably weave both elements together.  Perhaps, it was fated that the two lovers would come from families that hate one another.  This could be an approach to take both elements into one thought provoking perspective.  Yet, if a choice was forced, I think that the rivalry between the two families is the reason for their deaths.  It can become an intensely regressive discussion if we argued this to be fated, but in my mind, Romeo and Juliet are forced to go to ends that bring about their own deaths because of their families' intense hatred for one another.  If the families do not hold disdain for one another, the two do not have to go to such extremes, concoct plans where deaths are "faked," and take the risks that they do.  One need only see Juliet and the interaction with her parents in Act III, sc. 5 to see the level of intensity that the parents forced upon their children.  In the end, the kids had no chance for their love, or their belief in love, to develop.  They had to pursue channels outside of their parents, which means that the parents, and not fate were the main reason for their deaths.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is more responsible for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet: Romeo, Friar Laurence, fate, or the family feud?

I agree with 2 and 3, even though they disagree. I think that all of these factors are responsible. The irresponsible decisions that Romeo and Juliet made directly caused their deaths. They are definitely partly at fault. Yet society, their parents, and the feud also contributed. They would not have had to make these decisions if the conditions were different. Friar Lawrence does blame himself, and some of the blame definitely lies with him. If he hadn't enabled them, they would not have died the way they did. His motives were not just based on their needs. He also had ulterior motives, such as to end the feud. He did not make the decision based just on their needs.
Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is more responsible for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet: Romeo, Friar Laurence, fate, or the family feud?

I think that the passion and tragedy which envelopes Romeo and Juliet is centred around the family feud. When we look at lines such as 'my only love sprung from my only hate' we see the depth of emotion surrounding these vulnerable teenagers. There is little of the calm and rational: only voices of passion (be they hatred or love). These young people were enmeshed in a time where life was short, fleeting and lived moment-to-moment. Their deaths are a consequence of their history and context.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is more responsible for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet: Romeo, Friar Laurence, fate, or the family feud?

Yes Romeo and Juliet chose rashly, but they were enabled by Friar Lawrence. Do not forget that he chided Romeo for his fleeting emotions. One minute he was desperately in love with Rosaline, and the next he is in "love" with Juliet. Friar Lawrence knew this, yet he married them. Friar Lawrence was also the one who encouraged the use of the poison, rather than counseling them to go to their families. Yes, Romeo and Juliet acted rashly, but they were still children acting in good faith on advice given them by Friar Lawrence.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is more responsible for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet: Romeo, Friar Laurence, fate, or the family feud?

What about the role of fate? Yes, Romeo and yes, the feud obviously a partly to blame, but throughout the play it is fate that is shown to be above all the party responsible for the tragedy. It was fate that made Romeo and Juliet fall in love with each other, and fate at every turn seems to be responsible for ruining any plans to salvage the situation and turn it into a happy ending. Whilst I believe that we can't excuse the other parties from their involvement in the ending, fate I believe is the one to blame overall here.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is more responsible for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet: Romeo, Friar Laurence, fate, or the family feud?

I disagree.  I believe that the deaths are the fault of Romeo (and I think Juliet is equally at fault).

Sure, there was a feud that made them hide their love.  Sure, they got bad advice from Friar Lawrence.  But when it comes down to it, Romeo and Juliet are the ones making the rash decisions.  They are the ones who are so infatuated with one another that they don't stop to think of the consequences of their actions.  No one forces them to act in the ways that they do -- these are their own choices.

So, the other things are certainly contributing factors, but the ultimate responsibility lies with Romeo and Juliet.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is more responsible for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet: Romeo, Friar Laurence, fate, or the family feud?

In Romeo and Juliet, the family feud is responsible for the deaths of both Romeo and Juliet. Had there not been a family feud, there would have been no need for Romeo and Juliet to hide their love. Likewise, Friar Lawrence would not have had to devise a plan to help the couple escape.

If the Capulets and Montagues had resolved their differences, both Romeo and Juliet would have lived to have a happy life. The Montagues and Capulets realize the error of their ways a little too late. Nevertheless, both families resolve their differences after losing their loved ones.

It is sad to think that Romeo and Juliet could have lived if two families had not hated each other. All the other instances in the play happen due to the hatred between two families. Although the families resolve their differences in the end, it is too late to save Romeo and Juliet. Two innocent young people die but possibly not in vain. The future will be be better for the remaining Montagues and Capulets.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who or what, besides themselves, is most responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths in Shakespeare's play?

If one is going to "point the finger" at any single character in "Romeo and Juliet" as a conduit to the tragic demise of Romeo and Juliet, Friar Lawrence is that character.

For one thing, Shakespeare, whose knowledge of Catholicism was adequate since his father was Roman Catholic, portrays Friar Lawrence as a flawed character:  Lawrence is not a priest, but a friar, similar to a monk.  In the Catholic Church, a monk is a man who has withdrawn from the world for religious motives and is bound by vows of humility, poverty, and chastity.  While there are minor differences between monks and friars, the rejection of the secular world is common to both.  So, Friar Lawrence is guilty of breaking his vows when he becomes so intricately involved with the secular lives of Romeo and Juliet.  Knowing his sin may be why Friar Laurence runs away from the tomb in the final act rather than staying and explaining what has happened.  For, if he were to assume responsibility in the relationship of Juliet and Romeo, he would also admit to violating his vows.

While Friar Lawrence's intentions may be well-meaning, as an already flawed character his short-sighted actions that influence the lives of the young couple certainly are pivotal to their deaths:

  • Friar Lawrence secretly marries Romeo and Juliet, a violation of Church law that demands the posting of bans for usually six months.  This action complicates the conflict of Juliet with her father, Lord Capulet, who demands that she marry Paris, a nobleman. It is because she has been made a wife by Friar Lawrence that she becomes involved in the desperate plan to escape bigamy.
  • The marriage of Juliet and Romeo also complicates the conflict that Mercutio has with Tybalt. For, whereas Mercutio was merely bantering with Tybalt before Romeo came, he becomes enraged by Romeo's statement,

Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee/Doth much excuse the appertaining rage (III,i,50-53),

and draws his sword, saying,

Oh, calm, dishonorable, vile submission!(III,i,61-62).

Then, Romeo who is now Tybalt's relative because of the friar's having married him to Juliet, comes between Mercutio and Tybalt as he tries to diffuse the situation.  Instead, Mercutio is mortally wounded.

  • In order to prevent Juliet from committing the mortal sin of suicide, Friar Lawrence seeks a solution in providing her the vial of sleeping potion. But his secretiveness regarding the Capulet family causes them to believe that Juliet has died, so they entomb her. Then, his failure to get word to Romeo leads to Romeo's false assumption that his bride is dead and his and Juliet's consequent suicide.

Ironically, it is the poorly planned and mis-timed efforts of Friar Lawrence, who cautions the youths against impetuous acts, that effect the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who or what, besides themselves, is most responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths in Shakespeare's play?

I believe the central conflict between the Capulets and the Montagues sets up the events that lead to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.  The secrecy of Romeo at the party where he meets Juliet; Romeo's scaling her wall to profess his love for her and to arrange a marriage, knowing he would be killed if caught by a member of her family; and the secrecy of the marriage of Romeo and Juliet all demonstrate the fear associated with their respective families' knowledge of these events and the possible consequences of this knowledge.

Secrecy led Juliet to visit the Friar to obtain the potion that would render her "as if dead", again because of her fear of her parents,and the consequences her marriage to Romeo would bring.  Romeo fears telling his friends about his marriage to Juliet, as well as Tybalt, Juliet's cousin. He fears the consequences that would ensue between the families, as they are still at war. The families disregard the warnings and consequences of continued fighting made by the Prince to the Capulets and Montagues. The consequences of death or banishment mean nothing to the warring families, especially to Tybalt and Mercutio.

Because of the intense conflict and Romeo's eventual banishment from Verona, Juliet chooses to fake her death to avoid marriage to another man. Her fear of telling her family of her marriage to Romeo eventually leads to her untimely death, as well as Romeo's.  Both families lose loved ones because of their unending, petty rivalry.  The central conflict between the Montagues and the Capulets is the culprit.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who or what, besides themselves, is most responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths in Shakespeare's play?

In my mind, social conventions and familial loyalties played a very large role in killing Romeo and Juliet.  Their love could have been fated, but outside of that, the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues that tore apart Verona as well as both of the lovers proved to play a role in the tragic condition of Romeo and Juliet.  When social perceptions and attitudes severely impact what human beings can or cannot do, these elements play a role in their fate and predicaments.   Conceivably, the relationship between Romeo and Juliet would not have been so difficult if it did not have to bear the burden  social weight brought on by "divided households."  If Lord Montague and Lord Capulet had been able to put aside the quarrels of their homes in the names of their children, then the relationship turns out differently.  In a larger sense, if there had been some element of reason in which the leaders of the houses attempt to broker out some peace, the tragic condition of Romeo and Juliet is averted.  It is very idealistic, but if we are to assess blame for the "star crossed lovers," it does not lie in the stars, as much as it lies in both houses' inability to put aside rivalries for the promising and liberating notion of peace in Verona.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who do you think is at fault for Romeo's and Juliet's death and why?

This question has been asked and answered.  Please see the links below and thank you for using eNotes!

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who do you think is at fault for Romeo's and Juliet's death and why?

This would be a good question for the discussion board.  In my opinion, it is the fault of the families for being so stubborn and for hating each other for no good reason.  Their inability to see how much Romeo and Juliet loved each other and how much they longed to be together because of their own feud is truly selfish.  Had they been willing to set aside their pride, they would have been able to save the lives of Romeo and Juliet.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is to blame for the tragedy in Act 5, Scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet?

As an introduction to his explanation of what has happened, Friar Laurence takes responsibility for part, but not all, of the tragedy.  He hopes his words will clarify why events have unfolded as they have:

"I am the greatest, able to do least, yet most suspected, as the time and place doth make against me, of this direful murder; and here I stand, both to impeach and purge, myself condemned and myself excused" (V,iii,223-227).

After hearing what the Friar, Balthasar, and the Page of Paris have to say, the Prince addresses both the Capulets and Montague, effectively saying that heaven, or fate, has been the ultimate cause behind the tragedy, and that because of their hate, everyone, including himself, are convicted and punished:

"Where be these enemies?  Capulet, Montague, see what a scourge is laid upon your hate, that heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.  And I, for winking at your discords, too have lost a brace of kinsmen.  All are punished" (V,iii, 291-296).

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is to blame for the tragedy in Act 5, Scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet?

Many factors must share part of the blame for what happens to Romeo and Juliet.

1.  The family feud led Romeo and Juliet to keep their love secret.  All the sneaking around led to the miscommunications (Romeo did not tell Tybalt why he wouldn't fight him, the Friar nor the Nurse mentioned the marriage to the parents, resulting in Papa Capulet being in the dark when planning his daughter's marriage to Paris).

2.  Impulsive behavior by the "star crossed" lovers led them to react to situations without thinking first.  Count how many times they say that they want to kill themselves throughout the play whenever something goes wrong!

3.  Mercutio told Romeo to forget about his bad dream and go to the party.  His belief that dreams are nothing led Romeo to go against his gut to stay home.  His meeting Juliet sets off the chain of events that follow.  Mercutio's hot-headedness that led him to jump in to fight Tybalt when Romeo refused led Romeo to impulsively kill Tybalt in revenge.  His banishment left both Romeo and Juliet in an unbalanced state.

4.  Fate stepped in to ruin the Friar's plan when Friar John could not deliver the letter of explanation to Romeo.  Mr. Capulet made matters worse by bumping the wedding date up, forcing Juliet to drink the potion that same night.

Prince:  "See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,/ That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love." (V.iii.302-303)

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who do you think is most responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

Jamie wrote, "I agree that Romeo and Juliet bear the ultimare responsibilty for their choices, but isn't this true of all the characters? "

Yes, absolutely--but most of them didn't kill themselves. They all had some responsibility. Remember "It takes a village"? This is almost "It takes a city to kill a couple."

But most of it falls, I submit, on R & J.

Greg

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who do you think is most responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

The Friar definitely oversteps his position, but he like everyone else, is bound by Fate! Fate is the most responsible, and in some ways fate is a real character in Romeo and Juliet. From the very beginning, we're told that Fate will play a major role in the play. 

The Friar is guilty of misdeeds and poor judgement, but he acts in service to fate, the only constant in the play from beginning to end. 

The question as posed, of course is "who" is most responsible. While today Fate is not a "who", in the time that the Romeo and Juliet story first emerged, it could be said to be an unseen but not unimportant actor in people's lives, and Shakespeare's version is, I think, true to that idea.

As fond as I am of the star-crossed lovers, I have to blame them for their deaths. Is it sad? Yes, but if you are willing to break social guidelines, you have to take the risks. They took action; they are responsible.

Greg

Not someone I relish quoting, but I think ol' Dr. Phil has a point when he argues, "choose the behavior, choose the consequences."  I agree that Romeo and Juliet bear the ultimare responsibilty for their choices, but isn't this true of all the characters?  For example, the Montagues and Capulets choose to continue their pointless feud; the Friar chooses to oppose Church doctrine and parental wishes; Lady Capulet chooses to have her daughter raised more by her nurse than by herself; even Mercutio (for whom I also have a weakness for, btw, Greg) chooses to engage in testosterone-driven sparring that gets himself killed.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who do you think is most responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

The Friar definitely oversteps his position, but he like everyone else, is bound by Fate! Fate is the most responsible, and in some ways fate is a real character in Romeo and Juliet. From the very beginning, we're told that Fate will play a major role in the play. 

The Friar is guilty of misdeeds and poor judgement, but he acts in service to fate, the only constant in the play from beginning to end. 

The question as posed, of course is "who" is most responsible. While today Fate is not a "who", in the time that the Romeo and Juliet story first emerged, it could be said to be an unseen but not unimportant actor in people's lives, and Shakespeare's version is, I think, true to that idea.

As fond as I am of the star-crossed lovers, I have to blame them for their deaths. Is it sad? Yes, but if you are willing to break social guidelines, you have to take the risks. They took action; they are responsible.

Greg

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who do you think is most responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

The Friar definitely oversteps his position, but he like everyone else, is bound by Fate! Fate is the most responsible, and in some ways fate is a real character in Romeo and Juliet. From the very beginning, we're told that Fate will play a major role in the play. 

The Friar is guilty of misdeeds and poor judgement, but he acts in service to fate, the only constant in the play from beginning to end. 

The question as posed, of course is "who" is most responsible. While today Fate is not a "who", in the time that the Romeo and Juliet story first emerged, it could be said to be an unseen but not unimportant actor in people's lives, and Shakespeare's version is, I think, true to that idea.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on