Destiny deals out a contextual role in the gradual formation of the tragic death of Romeo and Juliet. Before the play, readers are introduced to Romeo and Juliet as ‘star-cross’d lovers’, denoting that the two lovers were meant to fall in love and face such untimely death, as it was written in the stars. Astrology validates death as work of fate, referring to the superstitious belief that every unexplainable occurrence is tied to the stars, and furthermore, destiny. Shakespeare presents such astrological references in various scenes of climax and suspense to put forth the active role of destiny in the play.
After readers are made to acknowledge fate in the preface, we are acquainted with Romeo, an introverted romantic. His infatuation with Rosaline concerns those around him, leading his friends, Mercutio and Benvolio, to visit the Capulet feast to rid him of his despair. Fate ignites it’s flames first in this particular episode. Before entering the feast, Romeo hints that the stars have already begun to generate the direful outcome of this night, “I fear too early; for my mind misgives/ Some consequence yet hanging in the star/ Shall bitterly begin his fearful date.” After this forewarning, readers witness the ‘death-mark’d’ love taking it’s course as both Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love at first sight. Suspense builds up as the characters recognise their perilous love, upon the revelation of the name of their houses. Both Romeo and Juliet make an ominous remark at this point, acknowledging that their death was to be the result of this love as well as foreshadowing the end of this tragic play, “My life is my foe’s debt” (Romeo), “My grave is like to be my wedding bed” (Juliet).
The plot travels to it’s climax without the help of destiny, but rather human conflict. Tybalt, being an embodiment of hatred, threatens Romeo right after his secret marriage to Juliet. This diverges the plot from the earlier excitement of the new lovers, to bring forth the consequences the teenagers must face for their forbidden love. In a war between love and hate, hate defeats love, ending in the death of the audience favourite, Mercutio, and the antagonist, Tybalt. Furthermore, the inevitable death presents itself in a stream of apprehensive events following the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt, such as the banishment of Romeo and the desperate choice of Juliet to be put in a simulated death to escape her betrothal to Paris. Fate hardly makes an appearance in these events.
A sense of doom pervades their subconscious as both the lovers make constant comments on destiny’s unforgiving attitude. Juliet frequently acknowledges fate to be the reason for their constant separation and even expresses her hatred towards fate in these few statements – “Can heaven be so envious?”, “O fortune, fortune! All men call thee fickle…” While Romeo, on realizing the dire consquences of the death of Tybalt, cries out, “O, I am fortune’s fool!”
Destiny makes its last appearance when the urgent message that was to be delivered to Romeo delays due to the messenger, Friar John, having been put into quarantine. This delay was the sole reason for the final tragedy leading to the inevitable death of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo, being under the false impression that Juliet was dead when in actuality she was in a simulated sleep, decides to join his wife in eternity. Destiny’s inconvenient role urges the tragic ending, resulting in the death of love.
Destiny is presumed to have a major role in both the construction and destruction of Romeo and Juliet’s love, though we cannot fully blame destiny to be the sole reason for the tragic death of these two young lovers. The irresponsible human attitude towards law and order, such as the duke’s decree of death to anyone disrupting peace and his harsh measure of banishing Romeo without any investigation into Tybalt’s death is vital in the carrying out of Romeo and Juliet’s eventual fall. The superficial forces that take place such as parental aggressiveness and hatred in society should also be regarded as prominently linked to the tragic ending. However, we cannot deny for this philosophy to true of the Romeo and Juliet – “If it is meant to be, it will be.”