Romeo and Juliet: Fate or Free Will


The human condition follows the path of fate. Everyone makes choices out of their own free will which affects their life at that time, but will ultimately lead to their pre- determined fate. People inflict their own wounds during their life by the choices that they make. This applies in Romeo and Juliet and plays a major role in Romeo and Juliet?s lives. ?A pair of star-crossed lovers? (I, i, 6)

In the very opening of the play the chorus is singing about Romeo and Juliet, and predicts their life together as having a star-crossed conclusion. By already knowing from the beginning that their life has an ill-fated conclusion, we can see how their choices brought them to their death. Romeo and Juliet could see that their life together was not going the way they wanted, because Romeo and Juliet wanted to marry each other but there were many barriers between them. Both Romeo and Juliet had many failed attempts in their efforts to trick fate out of what was ultimately going to happen to them both. Hold! Get you gone, be strong and prosperous in this resolve. I?ll send a friar with speed to Mantua, with my letters to thy lord. (IV, i, 122-124)

Juliet is to drink a potion to make her appear dead, and later wake to be free of the shame of marrying Paris. Here, Friar Lawrence is assuring Juliet that he will send a letter to Romeo, explaining their plan. Romeo doesn?t receive that letter, and he does not know what is to happen. Free will comes with great consequences. Friar Lawrence and Juliet inflicted their own wounds by not telling Romeo of their plan. If they had taken the time to make sure that Romeo got the information, their plan might have succeeded, and Romeo and Juliet would be free to marry each other. A greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our intents. (V, iii, 154-155)

After Romeo kills Paris, and then himself, Juliet wakes as Friar Lawrence rushes over to her. Friar Lawrence is saying that a higher power, in this case, fate, has ruined their plan. We know that Friar Lawrence is talking about fate when he says that they cannot contradict this power. You cannot contradict fate, it always has it?s way in the end, whether we know it or not.

?O, I am fortune?s fool! (III, i, 135)?. Romeo has just killed Mercutio, after Mercutio killed Tybalt. The prince is coming, and is looking for the murderer of Mercutio. Romeo is saying how his actions have always been those that fate wanted to be done, and now has just fulfilled fate?s last desire by killing Mercutio. If the price finds Romeo, he will kill him, and Romeo knows that his death would destroy Juliet?s life.

After Romeo kills Paris, and sees that Juliet is dead, he takes his own life. When Juliet wakes from her planned sleep and finds Romeo dead beside her, she kills herself. It seems that Romeo and Juliet?s lives were controlled by fate up to the very end. Both of them made what turned out to be bad decisions and ultimately destroyed both of their lives. In the end, fate had it?s way.