The catastrophic tragedy, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ written by Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare tells the story of two ill-fated teenagers living in the hostile city of Verona although the language used reminds us of seventeenth century England. Born as one another’s foe, the two hapless strangers meet and instantly fall in love igniting a chain of events ultimately leading to calamity. Romeo and Juliet are born to families who have been feuding with each other for many years. There are many reasons which amount to cause the melancholy conclusion but some are more responsible that the others. It is perceptible that fate, puerile passion and the ferocious feud between the Montague and the Capulet families are hugely to blame for the death of the adolescent couple but there are some less apparent factors, which are equally to blame.
‘Romeo and Juliet’ is as play filled with characters from many different classes that made up contemporary society. These range from servants to nobles and even a prince. In order to identify social class and also to establish the individuality of each character, the playwright varies the language they use. The complexity of the words and the imagery employed will also indicate role, class, intelligence, education and status.
Romeo, a Montague, is an amorously apt young man desperately in love with a lady called Rosaline to whom he has never met, until he meets Juliet and finds himself longing for her affection. His parents are very much active in the feud and do not converse or look after their son. Benvolio, Romeo’s best friend is an intense and insightful young man, whose name meaning ‘good will’ indicates his pacifying role. Romeo’s other friend Mercutio is in complete contrast to Benvolio, he is aggressive and his belligerence, which is shown in both his dialogue and his action, incites a swordfight, which has a critical and disastrous consequence affecting every character in the play.
Although Juliet is a Capulet, sworn enemy of the Montague’s, she does not participate in or support the feud, which divides Verona and causes havoc on the streets of the fair city. She is nearly fourteen years of age and appears to be content with obeying her parent’s requests, until she encounters her one true love, Romeo. Her character changes abruptly and her behaviour and attitude regarding her parents seems less deferential than before. Juliet’s parents are anxious Juliet is married soon. Juliet’s father despises disobedience and her mother seems to want to get rid of Juliet rapidly. Juliet’s cousin Tybalt is a very sophisticated and smart young man who is proud of his endeavours and envious of the family honour. He is an antagonistic character much like Mercutio. Juliet has a nurse whose actions mean well but result in the main tragedy of the play. She treats Juliet, as if she were her own daughter having lost her own child at the same time as Juliet’s birth. The nurse breastfed Juliet when she was young, this shows the strong relationship between these two characters.
Friar Lawrence is impartial to the warfare and simply anticipates that it will end immediately. In hope of this, he agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet without parental consent. Although his intentions were virtuous, he precipitates the affront adversity of the play.
The play begins with a prologue, which is used as a preface and explains the play to the audience. This was necessary as there were no special effects in the Elizabethan times to help do this. The chorus appears on stage and explains that the play is set in Verona and that it is a city separated in two due to a civil war between two households. The spectators are told that the quarrel is one that has continued for many years. Although the cause of the argument is never forecast, the audience is warned of the cure. This is ironic as cures are thought to be good and to be warned about one suggest that there is a huge price to pay if the feud is to be settled. The prologue hints at the outcome of the play and the death of Romeo and Juliet. The prologue consists of fourteen lines and is written as a sonnet. This reminds us of love poem and reminds us that behind all the tragedy of the play there is contentment and adoration. The play commences with,
This shows that the feud is already apparent and Shakespeare makes it clear to the reader that the feud is to blame.
However, in line six of the prologue he introduces a new instigator to the play,
“A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life”
By the use of the words,
“A pair of star cross’d lovers”,
The audience gets the impression that there are two lovers to whom tragedy and misfortune befalls. The use of the word,
Insinuates at their death and the terrible misfortunes that will be faced in order to conclude the play. Shakespeare uses the word,
In order to capture the luminous love of Romeo and Juliet. In the Elizabethan period, people believed that the stars held their destiny, an equivalent to modern horoscopes. This makes the audience think about the future and therefore what is mapped out for the young lovers and what will happen at the end of the play. This leaves the audience questioning the free will of the doomed duo.
In line nine of the prologue, Shakespeare continues the play with,
“The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love”,
This emphasises that the futures of Romeo and Juliet are mapped out beforehand and that the pair have to go down a route prepared by heaven in advance. This ultimately gives the audience an impression of the play and its forthcoming events. The use of the phrase,
Highlights to the audience that the lovers have very little free will and that their futures are foretold.
Already in the opening stages of the play, the reader is told about fate and how it is to blame for the death of the two young lovers. The audience are informed of their providence before the play establishes and this hints at the remainder of the drama. Already, in the introduction of the play we are aware of two factors, which are to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. The audience are aware that both the ongoing feud and the couple’s destiny facilitate the grave outcome of this poignant play.
As the play begins, the reader is immediately given the notion of the running row. In the first scene of act one, we are introduced to servants of both houses. The language used is sexual and coarse; this is in contrary to Romeo and Juliet as their language is innocent. This shows the reader their character and how it is different to that of the servants.
Shakespeare opens the play with the introduction of the servants of the Capulet dynasty. Gregory and Sampson enter the scene bearing heavy swords and shields. They also wore badges to identify their masters. They continually criticise the Montague’s. This gives an impression of what is to come in the concluding stages of this scene. When two serving men, Abram and Balthasar, from the Montague family tensions rise and a feud fires up. Although Benvolio attempts to stop the fight from continuing, his pacifying role only ignites Tybalt’s anger further.
“What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?
Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death”
The audience is shown his character upon his arrival to the play. He is shown to be a fiery character that feels fighting is necessary. Shakespeare uses the phrase,
As a pun and an alliteration. An alliteration is used to speed up the pace of the play and to display his emotion towards the fighting. The phrase also has a double meaning. Tybalt criticises the servants claiming they do no have courage. Also Tybalt uses the word,
As hart. In this case the phrase means, a female deer without a male leader. There is also a question mark following the statement. Shakespeare makes the audience think and wonder whether Benvolio is a coward or if he is simply trying to end the running warfare. There is further emotion displayed,
This emphasises how Tybalt feels on the matter of the Montague house and shows the absolute hostility created by the passionate protagonist.
Benvolio’s only response shows him persisting in his task to end the grudge.
“I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword,
Or manage it to part these men with me.”
Although Benvolio makes his original intentions clear, he also warns Tybalt and the Capulet’s that if called upon he would fight and help his kinsmen. The use of the word,
Shows Benvolio’s main aspirations. Shakespeare uses the word at the start of the quote in order to show it is the first thing on his agenda. Tybalt’s character is again portrayed as a bloodthirsty barbarian,
“What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word,
As I hate hell, all Montague’s, and thee.
Have at thee, coward.”
Tybalt questions Benvolio’s stance on the matter. Tybalt criticises the fact that Benvolio has drawn his sword and yet remains persistent that he does not want to fight. Tybalt then makes his feelings clear before warning Benvolio that he is going to attack,
“Have at thee”.
The fight begins and several of both families join the fray, which is broken up by officers and citizens as the Prince intervenes. As the heads of the families arrive to witness the brawl, the Prince warns them that the feud must be halted or heavy prices shall be paid. In line ninety-one of the opening scene the Prince claims,
“Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.”
Shakespeare reveals to the audience that the feud was a huge factor in the terrible tragedy of the play.
The Prince warns both parties that the frenzied fracas must end, and if it does not the consequences will be dire. He claims that they will be condemned to death if the peace is violated once more. His words are prolific as the death of Romeo and Juliet unite the families. This prediction indicates the involvement of fate in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.
In the latter stages of the first scene of act one, Romeo is introduced for the first time. His absence at the beginning of the play and throughout the battle indicates two things to the audience. The first is to show his character and how he is different to Tybalt and more similar to Benvolio. When Romeo is introduced to the play, he is clearly depressed and this is why he was missing at the start. He is depressed and love sick as his love, Rosaline does not know him. This is not bizarre as in the Elizabethan times; it was fashionable for a man to love a woman who is unaware of this fact. Also in the Elizabethan period, it was believed that love was only love with pain. Romeos love for Rosaline was petrachan as Rosaline influenced his mood. In line one hundred and seventy, Romeo uses two oxymorons,
“Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate”.
This was a common use of speech in the sixteenth century and it shows that Romeo is confused. He has changed what is order into chaos. Shakespeare introduces Romeo in such a manner to show he is romantically inclined and is unaware of what love means. Shakespeare suggests that young love is also a factor in the death of the lovers.
In Act one, scene two we are introduced to Capulet and Paris as they discuss their arrangements to marry Juliet. Although Capulet initially refuses Paris’s offer to marry Juliet, as she is too young, he soon changes his mind. In celebration of this, Capulet holds a party so that the two can meet. Benvolio and Romeo encounter a Capulet servant carrying letters, inviting people to the party. The servant cannot read and therefore asks Romeo whether he can.
“God gi’ god-den. I pray, sir, can you read?”
In line sixty-three, Romeo eventually tells him that he can and agrees to read the letter out loud. Romeo learns that the party is being held at the Capulet house and the servant, unaware of who he is talking to, invites Romeo to the gathering. Romeo has no intention of going but is persuaded by Benvolio who tells him that Rosaline will be there. Shakespeare has introduced another cause to the death of the lovers. If Romeo had not stumbled upon this hapless servant, he would not have met Juliet and the outcome of the play would be very different. Also, it is as a result of Romeo’s presence at the party that Tybalt killed Mercutio before Romeo executed the ‘Prince of Cats’ and was banished. It is ironic that Benvolio’s name means, ‘good will’ as it is his fault Romeo meets Juliet at the Capulet banquet.
In scene four of the opening act, the audience is introduced to Mercutio. Romeo has doubts on whether or not he should go to the party and therefore both Benvolio and Mercutio try to convince him to join them in the masquerade. Having been persuade to attend the ball, in line one hundred and six, Romeo informs the audience of a premonition.
“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 despised life clos’d in my breast,
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.”
Shakespeare emphasises fates involvement in their lives by displaying this fatal forewarning. Romeo realises that going to this party will start a chain of events which will ultimately lead to his death. The tone is ominous and foreboding. I think Shakespeare has used these dastardly attitudes in order to achieve a dramatic and deadly impression creating an image of catastrophe, calamity and chaos. Shakespeare uses alliteration,
In order to create a dramatic and emotional impact. Shakespeare tells the reader that Romeo’s mind is giving him a warning and that this caution is connected to the party. Shakespeare also wishes to speed up the pace of the speech in order to capture a compelling and exciting effect. Shakespeare makes it clear for the reader to deduce that fate is a vital component in the cause of the deaths of Romeo and Juliet,
“Some consequence yet hanging in the stars”.
It is vivid that Shakespeare is highlighting fate’s continual involvement and intervention in the lives of Romeo and Juliet. The use of the word,
Immediately makes the audience think of dire results, which will be suffered. Shakespeare ensures that it is clear to the audience that fate is being accused here by the use of the word,
The illustrious playwright continues the quote with another alliteration,
Shakespeare emphasises the amount of emotion that Romeo is contemplating. By speeding up the dialogue the determination displayed by Romeo is accentuated further. Romeo believes that his life will be the penalty of gate crashing the party. Fates intervention in their life is evidently enormous.
Scene five of Act one shows the Capulet party, which has been gate crashed by the young Montague members. Although Juliet is one of the main cast members, she is not seen or heard until now although she has been mentioned. By line sixty, Tybalt has noticed Romeo and immediately tries to concoct a war,
“Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe:
A villain that is hither come in spite,
To scorn at or solemnity this night.”
Tybalt uses the word,
It is obvious that Tybalt sees Romeo as his enemy despite the Prince’s words of warning. He also call Romeo a,
This emphasises the point of Tybalt’s angry and aggressive temperament. Tybalt’s anger is clear and he wishes to seek revenge. Tybalt is not content with Verona and the two feuding families being at peace. He tries to kill Romeo but instead kills Mercutio. Tybalt is enraged further when his uncle and leader of the household ignores this fact and wishes to end the civil brawl which tears and divides Verona.
Upon meeting one another, both Romeo and Juliet immediately fall in love. Romeo forgets about his love for Rosaline and now seems infatuated by Juliet. Unaware to whom he is talking to, Romeo professes,
“If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this,
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”
Romeo’s speech is written as a sonnet using rhyme. I think Shakespeare uses this technique in order to reveal the awkwardness and irresistibility of the situation. This is far from the petrachan love we saw earlier. This type of love is in complete contrast of his love with Rosaline as he has actually spoken to his beloved. Romeo’s love can be questioned as he has fallen in and out of love very easily. Juliet’s immediate response to Romeo’s approach, shares his image and matches the four rhyming lines of his quatrain,
“Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this,
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.”
In line one hundred and thirty four, Juliet tells her nurse,
“My grave is like to be my wedding bed.”
The use of the word,
Indicates the sinister outcomes of the play. Shakespeare uses a simile; I believe that this creates a picture in the readers’ mind; this illustrates how negative and desperate things will be. There is also irony as the words ‘grave’ and ‘wedding-bed’ are not usually associated. Juliet is basically telling her nurse that she would die if she does not marry the stranger but the reader knows that she dies after marrying him. This is an ironic anticipation of future events. This indicates that young love is to blame for the deaths of the lovers.
In line one hundred and thirty seven, Juliet tells her nurse,
“My only love sprung from my only hate!”
Juliet has acknowledged who the stranger is and realised their love for one another is not going to be supported by her family. When Juliet uses the word,
She is referring to Romeo and when she uses the word,
She is referring to his family, the Montague’s. This is in contrast to Romeo, as he has loved someone before Juliet whereas his new love has not loved anyone prior to meeting him. Shakespeare has again blamed young love but also the running row which segregates the city.
In line one hundred and thirty nine of the final scene of the first act Juliet recognizes that,
“Prodigious birth of love it is to me,
That I must love a loathed enemy.”
Shakespeare uses the word,
To suggest trouble is coming. Shakespeare suggests that the arrival of Romeo in the life of Juliet will bring trouble through fate and destiny, showing that fate is active during the party and the meeting between the lovers.
In Act two, Scene three, Friar Lawrence is persuaded to marry Romeo and Juliet. He does this in order to end the running feud in Verona and to reconcile the two families who are at war. This is ironic as by marrying the couple, he causes their death. This does reunite the families but at a huge cost. The Friar reminds us of the nurse as they have both done wrong but with good intentions. Shakespeare has introduced another key factor in the death of the couple. I think Shakespeare attempts to make the reader sympathetic towards the Friar by making his ill-fated acts unintentional.
In Act two, Scene six, Friar Lawrence marries Romeo and Juliet in his cell. Prior to the marriage, Friar Lawrence warns Romeo,
“These violent delights have violent ends”.
The Friar reminds Romeo that his love life is fickle and that he was in love with Rosaline before and that ended rapidly upon the arrival of another woman. He warns that despite this new passion that has entered Romeo’s life, it may have violent consequences. I think Shakespeare used the word,
Twice in the same sentence to create a powerful effect. It creates a lasting impact, which will be remembered by the reader and Romeo.
In Act three, Scene one, the audience is introduced to a public place where Mercutio, Benvolio and Montague men wait upon the arrival of Romeo. As the scene opens, Benvolio tells Mercutio,
“I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire:
The day is hot, the Capels are abroad”.
The reader can infer that Benvolio feels that trouble will brew in the summer heat. This shows fate and destiny as Benvolio feels that trouble can erupt in heat and predicts everything that will happen from this moment on. Tybalt arrives at the scene looking for Romeo seeking revenge after noticing him at the party. A war of words is exchanged during the confrontation between Tybalt and Romeo’s best friend, Mercutio. When Romeo does arrive on the scene, Tybalt ignores Mercutio and goes towards Romeo. As he tries to enrage and infuriate Romeo, both he and Mercutio are surprised when Romeo tries to be friendly with Tybalt. The audience know that the reason why Romeo wishes to keep the peace is because he has just married Tybalt’s cousin and wishes to end the feud. Mercutio thinks that Romeo is a coward and that he has lost his honour. Honour was vital in the Elizabethan times and it was regarded very highly. Mercutio decides to fight Tybalt for Romeo but as Romeo steps in between, Mercutio stops and Tybalt is able to thrust his sword into Mercutio, piercing his skin and killing him. In line eighty-seven of Act three, Scene one Mercutio screams,
“I am hurt.
A plague a’both houses!”
His death puts an end to Friar Lawrence’s hopes that peace will be achieved and the war will end. Instead it ignites the fury between the Capulet and the Montague’s. The use of the word,
Calls on fate to bestow tragedy on both the houses. Shakespeare has intentionally cursed both the Montague and the Capulet families. He blames both houses. Shakespeare shows that Romeo is partly to blame for Mercutio’s death as his cowardly behaviour forces Tybalt to join in the fray. Shakespeare shows that Mercutio is responsible for Romeo’s death because if he didn’t fight Tybalt and die, Romeo would not have murdered Tybalt to get revenge and he would not have been banished. Also, the plague which Mercutio places on both houses could be the reason Rome and Juliet died. This again indicates that fate was at hand and caused the tragedy. Shakespeare also lays the blame on the feud.
As a result of Mercutio’s death, Romeo seeks revenge on the culprit, Tybalt. Once he finds the murderer, Romeo kills him. Immediately after this event, Romeo tells Benvolio,
“O, I am fortune’s fool.”
Romeo is implying fortune is fate and it is fates hand that led him to kill tybalt and is he though about the consequences, he wouldn’t have done what he did and the outcome may have been different. The reader can see that fate has its hold of Romeo and it is going to control the remainder of the play. Romeo realises that fate will set a new turmoil of events causing tragedy. Romeo uses alliteration in order to speed up the play and to show his emotion and his disgust with himself,
As officers and the prince arrive upon the scene, Romeo is banished with immediate effect. It is made clear that he should be killed upon sight,
“Immediately we do exile him hence…
…Else, when he is found, that hour is his last”.
The audience does not see Benvolio again after the death of Tybalt and Mercutio. This is due to the fact that Benvolio is full of kindness and the remainder of the play lacks this. Instead, it is full of bitterness and anger.
In Act three, Scene two Juliet speaks in a soliloquy. She talks of her love for Romeo. In line twenty-one Juliet says,
“Give me my Romeo, and when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars”.
Juliet is talking about Romeo as if he was a star. This reminds the reader of the prologue,
And this also reminds us of fate and doom. Juliet suggests cutting Romeo into stars. The audience has already learned that stars represent destiny and by comparing Romeo to stars, the reader can deduce that his life has been controlled by destiny and ultimately fate.
In line fifty-four of the fifth scene in Act three Juliet tells Romeo,
“O God, I have an ill-divining soul!
Methinks I see thee now, thou art so low,
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb.”
Juliet has a premonition but blames it on her pessimistic soul. As she sees Romeo climbing down from the balcony into the orchard, she visualises him in a tomb. This reminds the reader that fate is active where Romeo and Juliet’s futures are concerned. The audience is also reminded of Romeo’s premonition and can see that both presentiments see Romeo dying.
In Act four, Scene one, the Friar plans to save the situation by giving Juliet a concoction, which will cause her to be bedded. He also plans to send a letter to Romeo explaining the situation. The friar once again attempts to help society. His intentions are good but the outcomes are far from this.
“Take thou vial, being then in bed,
And this distilling liquor drink thou off…
…A cold and drowsy humour”
The Friar explains his plan to Juliet and claims she will get a cold and drowsy sensation. In line one hundred and fourteen, he tells Juliet that Romeo will be aware of the circumstances.
“Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift”.
The morning of her wedding to Paris, Juliet cannot be woken as a result of the potion. The family gather and lament her death. In Act five, Scene one Romeo learns of Juliet’s death and believes it is true having not received the letter explaining otherwise. Romeo hurries to Verona to see for himself the sight of his love’s deceased body.
“She’s dead, deceas’d, she’s dead, she’s dead!”
In the next scene of Act five, Friar Lawrence learns that Romeo has not received his letter. Friar Lawrence hurries to the tomb where Juliet’s resting body lies in hope that he reaches there before young Romeo does.
“I could not send it”,
Friar John tells his barefoot brother that he was unable to give the letter to Romeo. Friar Lawrence realises the danger imposed to both Romeo and Juliet and wishes to do something instantaneously. Although Friar Lawrence attempted to help Romeo and Juliet and Verona, instead he has destroyed it. He has led Romeo to believe Juliet is dead and catastrophic consequences shall result from this.
In the final scene of the play, Paris is shown praying beside Juliet’s corpse. Romeo also enters the Capulet vault and encounters Paris who he kills. Romeo’s aggressive character is shown and this can also be a cause of their deaths. Upon seeing Paris, Romeo is immediately angered and fights the noblemen.
“O, I am slain. [falls] If thou be merciful,
Open the tomb, laid me with Juliet. [Dies]”
Paris’s love for Juliet is apparent. As he dies he wishes to be rested next to her body. Romeo turns his attentions to Juliet. Romeo considers slaying himself to be with his love in heaven,
“Will I set up my everlasting rest”.
He asks himself and Juliet’s soul whether he should make a final desperate commitment himself.
“And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars”,
Romeo uses the word,
To question whether this was all the fault of fate and whether it is his destiny to join his beloved. Romeo drinks a poison, which he bought whilst banished and dies just before Friar Lawrence is able to save his young soul. Juliet rises from her deep sleep to see Romeo’s body. She lifts Romeo’s dagger and stabs herself.
“This is my sheath;
There rust, and let me die.”
Juliet dies and her body falls on Romeo’s.
Friar Lawrence accepts some blame in line two hundred and thirty one,
“Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet,
And she, there dead, that Romeo’s faithful wife:
I married them, and their stol’n marriage day”.
The Friar explains the situation to everyone and admits that by marrying the couple without parental consent he is partly to blame for the terrible tragedy suffered.
In line two hundred and ninety two, the Prince tells the crowds,
“Heaven find means to kill your joys with love!”
The audience can see that the Prince is aware that his response to what happened was not strong enough and his punishments not strict enough to reconcile the families. He feels that his castigations were futile. He is also implying that fate took control of the situation so that the families were reunited and that Romeo and Juliet were powerless. The audience can infer that the only influence the couple have is when they die and that if their parents were aware of the marriage the outcome would have been very different. The prince ends the play with,
“A glooming peace this morning with it brings,
The sun of sorrow will not show his head.
Go hence to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon’d, and some shall be punished:
For never was a story of more woe
That this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
Shakespeare uses sonnets to start and end his play in order to remind the audience that this was love story albeit a tragic one. Romeo and Juliet’s death come from a direct consequence of all the hatred and fighting within Verona. Throughout the play the audience is aware of the fighting and the dangers open to Romeo and Juliet. The rhymes at the end of the play give a lasting impression of the play leaving the reader contemplating and remembering it.
In conclusion, there are many factors to take into account when deciding upon who or what is guilty of causing the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. These include: fate, chance, adolescence, the feuding, the parents, the letter, Mercutio, Tybalt, Friar Lawrence and the Nurse, Benvolio and the premonitions. It is clear that some had more of a role to play in the deaths of the young couple, but they all contributed to the deaths. The main causes are fate, chance, adolescence, feuding and the parents.
The deaths may have been foretold in the stars. There are many suggestions in the play that the deaths were determined by fate.
“Star-cross’d” (prologue, line six)
“The yoke of inauspicious stars” (Act five, Scene three, Line one hundred and eleven)
It may have been bad luck. Fortune is fickle so it may be that no one is to blame, only a series of accidents. This can be supported by the accidental meeting of Peter carrying the Capulet invitation list; the non-delivery of the Friar’s letter to Romeo and Mercutio’s unfortunate death.
Also, adolescence and young love can be to blame. It may be that the folly of Romeo and Juliet in their youthful haste and passion is at fault. This leaves the audience wondering, is adolescent love at first sight the cause of tragedy?
The deaths may have been caused by the enmity of the Montague and the Capulet’s. The two families struggle for power in Verona. Their ‘ancient grudge’ breaks ‘to new mutiny’ at the start of the play. A stiff-necked code of humour makes the young men spring to violent, bloody action. Tybalt feels that the ‘honour of my kin’ has been insulted by Romeo’s presence at the Capulet banquet. Romeo is provoked into ‘fire-eyed fury’ by the death of Mercutio. He embraces the revenge code that governs relationships between the two rival factions of the Verona Mafiosi.
Romeo’s character evolves from a friendly, shy and helpful young man to a more vicious sadistic killer who murders more than once out of revenge and anger. His evolution sparks many events to spiral out of human control leaving it up to fate to decide on the outcome. Romeo clearly changes upon meeting the second love of his life. Although he tries to be a good citizen, his lust for Juliet’s lips will allow him to do anything to get what he wants. Even murder.
It is apparent that the two main factors in the death of the young couple, Romeo and Juliet are the feud and fate. They helped intricate the tragedy and divide and then reunite the fair city of Verona. The feud broke up the families; fate brought them back together but at a cost. Peace comes at the expense of woe in the shape of Juliet and her Romeo.