Intro. To Lit. Studies
5 June 2015
Who is to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?
Love is felt in different intensities; it could be fatal, life changing, cause happiness, or consume your whole life. There a thousands of songs, plays, and stories written to express and explain this emotion. Love seems to be the ultimate goal everyone wants to experience at least once in their lifetime because it is the thing we all have in common as human. Unfortunately, love cannot overcome hatred as exemplified in The most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, a tragic play which was later shortened to The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, by the famous playwright, William Shakespeare. The play about two destined lovers, young Juliet and her Romeo, takes place during the Renaissance in the Italian city of Verona. The play starts off with a violent fight between the feuding families, the Capulets and the Montagues. The brawl is stopped by Prince Escalus, the ruler of Verona who decides to punish anyone with death if they disturb Verona again. Romeo and Juliet are two “star crossed lovers” who come from rival families who adamantly disapprove of their growing attraction to each other. Romeo and Juliet end up dying due to their families’ ancient strife and hatred towards one another, but through their deaths, the feud ends once and for all. Throughout the play it is evident that Friar Lawrence, Romeo and the nurse contribute to the tragic because of their impulsive, carless and stupid acts throughout the play.
Romeo Montague is responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet because he shows up to the Capulet’s feast without a formal invitation. In a whirlwind romance, he also proposes to Juliet later that night and kills Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin for killing Mercutio, his close friend and a relative of the prince and ignores evidence of Juliet being alive when he sees her one last time in the Capulet’s tomb. Lord Capulet arranges a feast to introduce Paris, Juliet’s suitor, to his daughter, Juliet, and gives his illiterate servant Peter the guest list, unaware that he cannot read. Paris wonders the streets of Verona looking for someone who will be able to read the list of names for him, which is when he runs into Romeo who he does not recognize and asks him to read the guest list for him. As a reward for reading the guest list, Peter tells Romeo “Now I’ll tell you without asking. My master is the great rich/ Capulet, and if you be not of the house of Montagues, I pray/ come and crush a cup of wine. Rest you merry!” (Shakespeare 1.2. 81-83). Because Romeo is in infatuated with with Capulet’s niece Rosaline, he agrees to go to the feast once he spots her name on the guest lists. Romeo knows he was not formally invited to the feast because of the feud going on between both families, however, he, Benvolio, and Mercutio decide to go to the feast as masquers to protect their identities. On the way to the Capulet’s grounds, Romeo expresses his concerns for the night, foreshadowing his and Juliet’s deaths. Romeo says, “I fear, too early: for my mind misgives/ Some consequences yet hanging in the stars/ Shall bitterly begin his fearful date/ With this night’s reveals and expire the term/ Of a despised life closed in my breast/ By some vile forfeit of untimely death” (Shakespeare 1.4. 106-111). When Romeo arrives at the party, he instantly forgets about his feelings for Rosaline and falls in love at first sight with the Capulet’s only daughter, Juliet, causing a series of unfortunate events to follow. On the way home from the feast, Romeo abandons Benvolio and Mercutio and looks for Juliet. Romeo goes over the orchard wall on to the Capulet’s grounds and ignores the calls coming from his friends as they search for him. Romeo hides in Juliet’s garden and watches her speak to herself before finally announcing his presence, not worrying that if someone found him, he would be put to death. Romeo and Juliet began to confess their love to each other, and when Juliet is being called by the nurse, Romeo asks, “O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?/ […] The exchange of they love’s faithful vow for mine” (Shakespeare 2.2. 131, 133). Romeo asks Juliet’s hand in marriage, aware that if anyone found out the two would be force to separate. Romeo’s proposal to Juliet complicates her engagement to Paris that was arranged by her father. When Prince Escalus arrives at the scene, Benvolio tells him that Tybalt has asked Romeo for a duel but ended up fighting Mercutio instead, and as a result, he accidentally killed Mercutio. Angry, Romeo states that his love for Juliet has made him weak and that he should have been the one to fight Tybalt. Tybalt, who is still furious, returns to the scene and Romeo tells him, “That late thou gavest me; for Mercutio’s soul/ Is but a little way above our heads,/ Staying for thin to keep him company:/ Either thou, or I, or both, must got with him” (Shakespeare 3.1.126-129). Romeo is telling Tybalt that Mercutio is dead and his soul is in heaven waiting for either him, Romeo, or both of them to join him. When Romeo kills Tybalt he is told by Benvolio to flee the crime scene so he waits in Friar Lawrence's cell to hear what the Prince’s punishment is going to be. Once the prince hears from Benvolio what had happened, he declares, “and for that offence/ Immediately we do exile him hence/ […] Let Romeo hence in haste,/ Else, when he’s found, that hour is his last” (Shakespeare 3.1. 186-187, 194-195). For the murder of Tybalt, Prince Escalus decrees that Romeo be exiled from Verona right away, and if he is to ever to return, he will be killed instantly. Romeo is outraged and feels that his punishment is far worse than death itself because he will be leaving Juliet behind. Instead of murdering Tybalt, Romeo should have gone directly to the Prince himself and told him that Mercutio had been killed by Tybalt. But because of Romeo’s impulsive character flaw, he decided to take matters into his own hands, making things more complicated between Juliet and him. While Romeo is banished in Mantua he has gotten word from Balthazar, Romeo’s dedicated servant, who he tells to keep track of Juliet while he is away. Balthazar tells Romeo that Juliet has died and was buried in the Capulet’s tomb, alongside Tybalt, unaware of Juliet’s and Friar Lawrence’s plan. Impatient and divested about the news, Romeo leaves Mantua in search of an Apothecary to give him a deadly poison so he can drink the concoction in Verona, beside Juliet. Once Romeo arrives in Juliet’s tomb he spots Paris, who he kills when Paris threatens to get the guards on him. Romeo stares at Juliet in the casket and thinks “death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath,/