William Shakespeare repeatedly focuses on fate in his play of Romeo and Juliet. Fate is when something is thought to be out of someones control.  Fate is “the development of events outsides a persons control, regarded as predetermined by a supernatural power.” Shakespeare explores the idea of fate by using a variety of techniques including metaphors, dramatic irony, the plot and the prologue.

Metaphors in Romeo And Juliet are everywhere. A metaphor is a form of figurative language which applies to a non-literal descriptions of two comparisons. A lot of metaphors occurred at the start of the play where Romeo and Juliet first fall in love.  In act 1 scene 4 Romeo is about to enter the Capulet’s party and suddenly gets a bad feeling in his gut. Romeo says “I fear to early, for my mind misgives Some consequence yet hanging in the stars Shall bitterly begin his fearful date” Romeo is feeling that the party is the start of something bad, something that is going to end with his own death. From the same passage Romeo continues to say “But he that hath the steerage of my course, direct my sail” Romeo was unsure of what the future hold due to his dreams. But is putting his trust into the hands of whoever is steering it. These metaphors are creating a great image in the audiences head. Shakespeare consistently uses fate in many of his metaphors throughout his play.

Dramatic irony is when the audience knows something before the other characters. The first example that happened in Romeo and Juliet is when Mercutio was looking for Romeo after the Capulet’s party. Romeo was running around the Capulet’s house trying to find Juliet’s bedroom window so he can talk to her. The reason this is dramatic irony is because the audience knew that Romeo was no longer in-love with Roseline, but he was in love with Juliet. Following soon after Juliet is on the balcony speaking out loud to herself but the audience could see that Romeo was underneath the balcony listening. “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And ill no longer be a Capulet.” Juliet is struggling with her love towards Romeo and her knowledge of that he is the enemy to her family. She wants Romeo to be able to forget his father and change his name. If this was not possible all she wants him to do is promise that he will love her forever and she will no longer be a Capulet.

The idea of fate in Romeo And Juliet is presented by a series of events that happened by coincidence. When coincidence occurs they consider this is be a sign of god intentions. The first occurrence of fate in Shakespeare’s play is when Romeo and Benvolio run into the Capulets servant on the street. He was carrying invitations to the Capulets party. This is where Romeo and Juliet were to meet and fall in love. The servant was unable to read so asks Romeo for assistance and says “if you not the house of Montague’s, I pray come and crush a cup of wine”. Another example of fate was when Friar Lawrence’s letter didn’t make it to Romeo. Friar Lawrence sent a letter to Romeo to inform him of Juliets plan to take a potion which will fake her death then when she wakes up Friar will take her to Mantua where her and Romeo will live together. Friar John informs Friar Lawrence about how the letter didn’t make it to Romeo because he was shut up in a quarantine due to an outbreak of the plague. “Where the infectious pestilence did reign, sealed up the doors and did not let us forth so that my speed to Mantua there was stayed.” These coincidences influence events in the story ensuring Romeo and Juliet meet and full in love.

The prologue appears at the start of the play. It sets the scene and tell the audience exactly was is going to happen. An example of how the prologue tells the audience on what is going to happen is “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.” This simply means fighting against the stars, as the stars are thought to control peoples destinies. This is implying that the two lovers are intended to end in a tragic accident. Further down in the prologue it states “Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.” This is predicting that the death of the two lovers bring their families disputes to an end. The prologue gives expectations of what the crowd is going to see later on in the play. The audience reflects back on the prologue regually which is why its crucial for it to make understanding of the play.

It is possible to to describe the events that happen in Romeo and Juliet a series of unfortunate accidents but this was not the case in Shakespeare’s eyes as he links it directly back to fate. Acts throughout the play are caused by fate, unfortunately many parts are coincidences that are the difference between life and death. Shakepeares identifies fate frequently in Romeo and Juliet through metaphors, dramatic irony, the plot and the prologue. People are unable to predetermined if their lives are controlled by fate or not.


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  1. This structure works well, I look forward to your essay’s development as the days progress.

    Let me know if you need any assistance, and remember that you can read the notes on the class website at any time.


  2. Reading: 6B – Confident examination of a range of sophisticated dramatic and language effects. Sometimes these effects, for example Dramatic Irony, are not clearly linked to the idea of fate as the question asks.
    Writing 6P – Straight-forward, well-organised and clear analysis, supported with well-integrated evidence. Occasional minor lapses in spelling and sentence structure.


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