In the play Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare the entire plot was based around fate. (Fate is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “The development of events outside a person’s control, regarded as predetermined by a supernatural power.”) Shakespeare wrote it this way because he strongly believed in fate. He used metaphors, coincidences, dialogue as tools to express his beliefs about fate fortune and God.
At the start of the play there is the prologue of 14 lines that summarises the play for the audience. The prologue shows that before the play even started, something or someone knew what was going to happen. The prologue adds to the tension, drama and tragedy of the play, because it gives the audience an insight into what’s going to happen and it creates dramatic irony. Three lines in the prologue are ” A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth with their death bury their parents strife.” This is a reference to fate because it summarises the part of the play where they commit suicide and their parents feud was quenched. This shows that there was nothing Romeo and Juliet could have done to stop it because it was already written in stone. Shakespeare wrote it so that the audience would see that in the play there was some power greater than us like God influencing events.
Shakespeare uses metaphors in Romeo and Juliet as one way to communicate his ideas about fate. He uses metaphors to explain how he relates life to being a journey. At one point in the story before Romeo (who is an enemy of the Capulets because he is a Montague) is about to enter the Capulets house and gate crash their party he says “… He that hath steerage of my course, direct my sail.” By saying this, Shakespeare is implying that Romeo is a boat and that he is leaving it up to the captain where he goes and what he does. We know that he was also implying that God was the captain of Romeo’s ship because he used a capital H when he said He and you only do that when you are talking about God. So what he was really meaning is that Romeo is giving himself up to God and that God can lead him which ever way he sees fit. This is a reference to fate because from this point on Romeo believes that he is not really in control of his own life, so whatever happens to him is Gods fault not his own.
There are multiple times when Shakespeare uses coincidence to direct the course of the play. He also uses it to discretely indicate to the audience that God is influencing what happens. At one point in the play Romeo comes across Capulet’s servant and learns about the party. This is a good example of a coincidence because Verona is a big city and the chances of Romeo meeting him randomly are very small. Another good example is when Friar John is trying to deliver Friar Lawrence’s urgent letter to Romeo. He doesn’t make it because there was a plague in one of the towns he stayed in on the way and it had been quarantined so he couldn’t get out. This is another example of God’s influence because back then they believed that God controlled all types of sickness. So if there really was a God, he would have put the plague on that town stopping Friar John from getting through, and therefore initiating Romeo and Juliet’s tragic deaths.
All the major plot events in the play are based around “coincidences” and fate. Often small plot events lead to bigger ones, and it seems like they might be small things that you wouldn’t notice, but without even one of them, the play would probably not have ended like it did. At the start of the play when Romeo likes Rosaline and meets a Capulet servant in the street and gets invited to the party, the only reason he goes is because he wants to see Rosaline there. The Capulets only held the party because Paris wanted to marry Juliet and the families wanted each others wealth. Juliet never wanted to go to the party or meet Paris, but she was forced to by her family. These might seem insignificant but if you take even one out of the equation, then Romeo would not have met Juliet and the play would have been completely different.
Premonition was another one of the ways Shakespeare communicated his ideas about fate in Romeo and Juliet. (Premonition is defined as “a strong feeling that something is about to happen, especially something unpleasant” in the Oxford dictionary.) Shakespeare used premonition to raise the drama of the play and also to explain his ideas about fate and how before some of the events in the play even happen the characters in the play sense them or have visions. for example just before Balthisar reaches Romeo to tell him about Juliet dying he says ” I dreamed my lady came and found me dead.” and on the same night Juliet had a vision of Romeo dead as if in a tomb. “Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb.” This is a reference to fate because they are both seeing the future in the same night. When their dreams come true, it means that their death was foreseen.
Shakespeare often communicates his ideas about fate in the dialogue the characters in the play use to express themselves. For instance Romeo often talks about the stars, fate and fortune and he also often talks in riddles. He uses metaphors and obscure ways of saying things to make what he’s saying more complex and mysterious. in one part of the play Romeo says “… He that hath steerage of my course, direct my sail.” This dialogue relates to fate because it shows that not only does Romeo believe in fate and God but that he is willing to let God control his life and choose his path for him. When he learns of Juliet’s “death” he says “I defy you stars”, which means that he is unhappy with the path God has chosen for him and feels that he has been cheated.
Shakespeare used the play to show what he believed about God and fate. All the characters believe in God and fate, and they always refer to it in their dialogue by talking about the stars and fortune. A lot of the plot events seem like coincidences, but when you look deeper you’ll see that Shakespeare meant that they were decisions made by God. Back then, the audience and the actors believed in fate and God, nowadays people believe in free will and that the choices you make will determine the outcome of our life. I think it’s a bad thing to think your life is predetermined, because if you believe fully in fate and that everything in your life was planned out for you, your achievements are not really yours. You also probably wouldn’t work anywhere near as hard, because you believe your life will be the same anyway.