In Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare has many different ways of expressing the idea of fate. We are told in the prologue about events which gives us an insight of what will happen in the play. Fate is also shown through things like Metaphors, coincidences, premonition and dialogue. Shakespeare uses these to show the character’s belief in God and that He guides them and chooses their path for them.
From the audience’s view of the play we already know things will happen as we are told in the prologue at the start of the play. It shows that their life has been set out for them as it already says everything that will happen before it has even happened. This creates tension for the audience as they are waiting for things to happen but don’t know when they will come. An example of this is at the start of the play when Romeo was in love with Rosaline, but the audience already knows Romeo is set out to love Juliet as said in the Prologue. This is also called dramatic irony. Another example of this is Romeo and Juliet dying. From the start of the play we know it will happen when it says “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life” But they can’t do anything to change it as it is fate and is already set to happen. God decided for this to happen to end the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets.
Metaphors are one other way Shakespeare shows the idea of fate in Romeo and Juliet. He uses metaphors in a way that shows us there lives are a journey that have already been set out for them. Just before Romeo and other Montagues go to the Capulet’s party Romeo says “He that hath steerage of my course, direct my sail”. When he says this he is referring himself to a boat and that he’ll let the captain of the ship choose his course. In this metaphor Shakespeare writes “He” with a capital letter. This only happens when we are referring to God. This is an example of fate because Romeo is letting God choose his path and letting God control what happens to him. Later in the play, Shakespeare shows another metaphor showing the idea of fate when Romeo says “Thou desperate Pilot, at once run on the dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark”. This shows that Romeo’s faith in God has not worked out for him and has led him to his death.
Fate in Romeo and Juliet is also seen with the coincidences that happen throughout the play. Shakespeare has these coincidences in the play to show the idea of fate and as if God made them happen for a reason. One of these coincidences happens when the Capulets send out their servant with a list of names to invite to their party. The servant could not read and it just so happened that Romeo and Benvolio were walking past. So the servant asks Romeo to read out the letter. The servant then says “If you be not of the house of Montagues, I pray come and crush a cup of wine. Rest you merry”. This then leads to Romeo going to the party where he meets Juliet. This is related to fate as it was as if it happened for a reason. For example Romeo and Juliet would have never met. And Mercutio and Tybalt would have not died at the time that they did because Tybalt would not have been after Romeo for gate crashing their party. This would mean there would be no fight between them and they would still be alive. This all relates back to when the servant happened to find Romeo and Benvolio on the street causing them to go to the party.
There is another coincidence near the end of the play when Friar John is unable to get Friar Lawrence’s letter to Romeo. He was unable to get it to him as there was a plague in the town he was staying in so they were put into quarantine. This plague was put in this town by God to prevent the letter getting to Romeo. He was leading Romeo to his death. Before Friar John could get to him Balthasar had met Romeo and told him about how Juliet had died.
Another thing Shakespeare puts in the play are characters having premonitions. A premonition is someone having a strong feeling that something bad will happen. He adds these to show that God has made them see things that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Romeo has a premonition before Balthasar reaches him to tell him about Juliet’s death, Romeo says “I dreamed my lady came and found me dead.” This is a reference to fate as it is the idea that God can make people have visions or dreams to change what can happen in the future. It is also the case on Juliet’s balcony the same night of the party when Romeo has to leave. As he is descending from the balcony Juliet has premonition and says “As one dead in the bottom of a tomb”. By saying this she is having a vision of Romeo lying dead in a tomb. This eventually happened at the end of the play. This is fate as they are both seeing the future only that they are not aware of it. This is Shakespeare hinting that God showed them what they saw and made them have visions to lead them on a different path.
When Romeo had just found out about Juliet’s death he says “I defy you, stars”. It is a direct reference to fate because he says he denies fate’s hold on him and that God’s taken him off his path. He then plans to kill himself and goes and buys poison leading to him killing himself in Juliet’s tomb beside her.
This idea of fate is hinted throughout the play many times and is shown in several different ways. Metaphors are used in a way to show there life is a journey that has already been set out for them. Also coincidences are put in to show that things happen for a reason and that they are decisions made by God that can change what kind of life you have. Back in the time of Shakespeare’s plays audience and actors believed in fate and God. These days there are not as many people who believe there life has been predetermined. Many people now think you are free to choose your own path and journey for your life.