Essay on Fate. Do We Have a Personal Choice?

Billions of people all around the world make choices that affect their everyday lives, but in the long run, Fate controls their destiny. In the tragic play, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, the topic of choice versus fate is referenced throughout the entire play. The tale of the two star-crossed lovers begins with a young boy stunned by the beauty of a girl, who just so happens to be the daughter of his family’s enemy. The two decide to secretly marry each other but their happiness is short lived.  A series of ill-fated events occur, causing the dramatic teenagers to take the situation to an extreme extent. The miscommunicated knowledge leads to the death of the adolescents, directing to the realization that a feud between two families only causes resentment and death. Although Romeo and Juliet make impulsive decisions, fate is the ultimate contributor to their downfall, therefore having a greater impact on their lives than free will.

In Act Four, Juliet is beginning the strategy invented by Friar Lawrence and herself earlier in the day. Juliet has agreed to marry Paris, and her father is so overjoyed that he decides to move the day of the wedding earlier, to wednesday. Juliet’s mother and her Nurse usher Juliet away to get her fit for her wedding the next day. When it is time for Juliet to go to sleep, Nurse asks if she will need any help throughout the night or before bed. Juliet continues acting and responds with “No madam; we have culled such necessaries as are behoveful for our state tomorrow” (4.3.7-8). Nurse and Juliet’s mother leave the room for the night. It was pure fate that neither Juliet’s mother nor Nurse did spend the night with her in her room.

Fate drives Nurse to ask if Juliet needs help, otherwise Juliet and Friar’s plan will not follow through at all.With no one else in the room, Juliet is able to speak her famous soliloquy of her fears of being alone in the tomb, and drink the sleeping potion to push the plan into motion. Another illustration of Fate deciding the destinies of Romeo and Juliet is when Romeo is thrilled that he has met Juliet at the Capulet’s ball, especially while being heartbroken about Rosaline. Romeo plans to meet Juliet outside her balcony after the ball, and they begin talking to each other. The lovers confess their love at first sight for one another, and Romeo confides in Juliet how “... I [Romeo] am afeard, being in all night, all this is but a dream, to flattering-sweet to be substantial!” (2.2.139-141). 

Romeo believes that it is fate the brought the two of them together; that it is just a dream that he met such a lovely lady appearing in a party placed at his enemy’s house. It is fate that brought the two teenagers together, and fate that they both fell in love with each other right from the start. The probability of Romeo and Juliet meeting each other somewhere else in Verona without the interference of fate is highly unlikely. Fate intervenes in both the meeting of Romeo and Juliet and the opportunity for Juliet to drink the potion alone in her room, the night before her wedding.

Another example of fate working through the play is when Romeo wanders around the market with his friend, Benvolio, when a servant man from the house of Capulet approaches him. The Servant is unable to read and asks Romeo to read the letter his master handed him. Romeo, being polite, takes the card from the servant and replies with “Stay fellow; I can read. ‘Signior Martino and his daughters; County Anselm and his beauteous sisters; the lady widow of Vitruvio…” (1.2.63-66). The chances of the Capulet servingman asking Romeo, a Montague, of all people to read the guest list for the Capulet’s party, then proceeding to invite him is more than just choice: It is fate. The servant does not know that Romeo will meet the love of his life at the party, nor did anyone else except for fate. Fate knows exactly how everything will occur in any situation.

Fate knows that the servant will have to ask Romeo Montague, which will set off a chain of events leading to the death of the teenagers. In Act three, Juliet finds out about the fight between Romeo and Tybalt from Nurse. Juliet is shocked at what Nurse tells her. Juliet questions out of bewilderment and asks, “What storm is this that blows so contrary? Is Romeo slaught’red and Tybalt dead?” (3.2.64-65). Juliet believes that it is fate that, according to Nurse, both her beloved cousin and her husband have killed one another. Juliet knows that Romeo loves her, and he wouldn’t sacrifice his life for a frivolous brawl against his new family member, so fate causes him to die. What Juliet does not know, is that Romeo is still alive, and fate knows that he will survive. Fate is responsible for the meeting of the two lovers, for the miscommunication from nurse, and the fighting of Romeo and Tybalt.

On the other hand, disbelievers in fate may argue that every single choice that Romeo, Juliet, and other characters make form the tragic end to their lives. Prince Escalus claims that the next problematic encounter the Capulets and Montagues have on the public streets of Verona, that those involved will be sentenced to execution. When Tybalt kills Mercutio, and Romeo reacts and murders Tybalt, Prince Escalus does not massacre Romeo like he had said he would earlier. He says “...for that offense, immediately we do exile him hence,” (3.1.184-185). Many people will say that Prince chooses to let Romeo free with the only punishment of banishment, but it was fate that he was not killed. Mercutio is related to the Prince, and the reader does not know that until this point in time.  It is fate that Mercutio is the Prince’s kin, it is fate that Mercutio dies, it is fate that Mercutio is killed before Tybalt is, and it is fate that Romeo is given a lesser sentence.

The entire situation is surrounded around fate, without it, the entire tragedy will end very differently. In favor of fate, Friar John returns to Friar Lawrence, supposedly delivering the message to Romeo that Juliet is not actually dead. As Friar John enters Friar Lawrence’s cell, he confesses “I [Friar John] could not send it----here it is again----nor get a messenger to bring it to thee,” (5.2.14-15). If Friar Lawrence delivers the letter to Romeo, Romeo and Juliet will not annihilate themselves. The two lovers will most likely still be alive and travelling to Mantua, instead of their cold bodies on the floor of the Capulet tomb. It was fate that Friar John is quarantined at the house of a sick family. If Friar John does not come across the ill people and get sick himself, he will be able to deliver the letter and save the lives of both the children. Fate wants to teach a lesson to the feuding families by planning their only children’s deaths. It was fate that plans out the lives of the two teens before their lives even begin.

Fate impacts the lives of humankind greatly because it has full control over everything that occurs within each person's’ life. Romeo and Juliet meet by fate at the Capulet party, and they marry each other in secret. The couple has many fearful instances of one or the other being deceased until Romeo does get banished. Friar Lawrence and Juliet create a plan so Juliet can escape with Romeo, but it goes horribly wrong resulting in the fatality of both Romeo and Juliet. Fate works its way every single day through their lives and other citizens lives to create the end result of the suicides of teenagers in love. In conclusion, fate has a greater effect on the existence and death of humans, such as Romeo and Juliet, than their personal choices.



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