How does Shakespeare present the hand of fate in his play Romeo and Juliet?

“For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo”. Fate is an important aspect of Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet .It has the Audience hanging onto the edge of their seats wanting to let their own views about it spiral out of control. Without the use of fate the storyline of the play would be nonexistent as many of the incidents involving the hand of fate are links to future events. Fate is an aspect used in the play to predetermine future matters by the influence of a higher power such as god. Shakespeare presents the hand of fate in his play Romeo and Juliet in a subtle way, by incorporating the use of metaphors , he also delivers the ideas of fate by adding them into the storyline/plot, the characters dialog, through the use of premonition and finally through using coincidences.

Shakespeare referrs to  fate regularly throughout his play Romeo and Juliet. He does this by using metaphors. The way he uses metaphors is by relating life to a journey. Romeo gets an invitation to the rival Capulet households party. Right before he goes to the party he gazes towards the stars and says” He that hath steerage of my course direct my sail”. When Romeo says this he is implying that he is a ship and he is allowing the captain of his ship choose the right course for him. In this metaphor he is referring to the captain of his ship being a higher power such as God. This is shown as the ” He ” written in this metaphor is written with a capital H. Which is only done when referring to God. This is seen as fate because Romeo is surrendering control over his life to God. Shakespeare develops this metaphor later in the play when Romeo says “Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks thy seasick, weary bark”. This  continuance of the previous metaphor shows that Romeos faith in the higher power directing him in the right path, has led him crashing into the rocks and has resulted in his destruction.

Another way that Shakespeare communicates his ideas of fate throughout his play Romeo and Juliet. Is by using fate throughout the storyline/plot. Shakespeare uses fate in the plot to show the sequence of events that influence what happens deeper into the play and how these events are due to fate. In act 1 scene 2 Romeo is walking through the streets of Verona with his cousin Benvolio. A servant from the rival Capulet household see’s the two boys in the street and asks “i pray sir, can you read?” Romeo helps the servant read an invitation to the Capulet party.  Because of their kind help the servant offers them an invite to the party not knowing that they are of the Montague house. With some discussion the boys agree to go as Romeo’s love “Rosaline” will also be attending the party. This is seen as fate as the possibilities of Romeo and Benvolio meeting the servant in the busy streets of Verona are quite slim and because of them meeting and Romeo receiving an invite to the Capulets party, future occurrences happen to unfold. Romeo would have never met juliet without this appearance of fate.

Shakespeare refers to the aspect of fate throughout the play by using the characters dialog to fully deliver his ideas of coincidence to the audience. He does this to show that the characters in the play are influenced by fate and refer to the idea of fate in their everyday life, even without knowing they are doing so. An example of how fate is used in the characters dialog is in act 3 scene 5 when Lady Capulet and Capulet threaten to banish Juliet from their household unless she marries Paris. Juliet refuses to marry which angers her parents , lady Capulet utters “i would the fool were married to her grave”. This is an act of fate because without knowing lady Capulet predicts a future event, where juliet does end up dying. The references  to do death occur many times throughout the play and all relate to the “two star-crossed lovers” taking their life in the last scene.

Shakespeare delivers his beliefs on fate In his play by slipping them into the Audience’s grasp, through the use of premonition. He uses premonition in such a way that it could feel like a regular dream or thought swirling round the characters head, but in fact it is stating what will happen further in the play. An example of fate in a premonition in Romeo and Juliet would be in Act 5 scene 1 When Romeo says “I dreamt my lady came and found me dead”. Romeo says this being completely and utterly unaware that this will be an event that occurs later. Shakespeare uses this reference to fate because he wants to show that subtle hints in people’s lives can predict things that happen in the future.

The final way Shakespeare uses fate in Romeo and Juliet is by using a variety of coincidences. Coincidences are used throughout the play to add emphasis to Gods influence on the events that occur throughout the play. Coincidences have a lot to do with how things pan out in later scenes and without them the story would be inadequate. A perfect example to how coincidences are used in allusion to fate is in Act 5, scene 1 when the letter sent to inform Romeo about Juliet faking her passing, doesn’t arrive on time. As at that time a small town that was on the way to Romeo was coincidentally put in quarantine due to an infectious plague. This resulted in Romeo not receiving the urgent letter and being told that Juliet was dead by Balthasar.” How doth my juliet? ” Romeo asks before being informed of the news. This is seen as a coincidence Because something in the hand of fate has interrupted a perfect plan constructed in the play, resulting in Romeo believing that Juliet is dead and having no clue that it was all part of the plan.

As seen in the previous paragraphs written, the use of fate in Shakespeare’s play is neatly intertwined with all things that make up the play Romeo and Juliet . Shakespeare’s beliefs about  the higher power such as god having control over all upcoming situations has led to the whole  tragedy of the “two star-crossed lovers ” and how they ended up dying for true love. It is a perfect representation of how gods influence on these two teenagers lives has taught the whole city of Verona, the characters close relatives and friends and the audience a very valuable lesson. God chose these paths for the characters lives and without the influence of fate, the constant use of metaphors,   pre-determining dialog, plot events and the repeated use of coincidence the play would be like a Balloon without air  or a flower without its petals.

By Cece Gardner.





Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. This is going very well, Cece. In the first paragraph, you analysis is strong, but I would like to encourage you to include a strong quotation from that point in the play to support your explanation.

    In the second paragraph you do include a quotation and this strengthens your discussion greatly. I am also very impressed with the fact that you’ve managed to combine a variety of examples of the characters’ references to fate and even more to explain how this shows their general understanding of how fate works.

    Did you know that when someone says they wish something bad would happen to someone else, the response is often “Don’t tempt fate!”

    Keep going as you are – it’s great!


  2. Writing: 6B
    Reading: 6B


Respond now!