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Fate and the Stars in Romeo and Juliet

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Jason Auffant

on 26 April 2014

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Transcript of Fate and the Stars in Romeo and Juliet

in Romeo and Juliet
Fate and the Stars
How Shakespeare Associates Celestial Imagery with Fate and Destiny
The Idea of Fate is Introduced in the Prologue
Another Example
Examples of What If's
To sum things up
Class activity
Throughout the play the characters frequently use celestial imagery to describe the situations that they are experiencing, and often this imagery represents the role of fate
The fate of Romeo and Juliet is revealed to the audience in the prologue when the chorus says, "A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;". This allows the audience to see the role of fate in all of the decisions and actions of the characters throughout the play, because they know what the end result will be from the very beginning.
One of the more significant examples occurs in act 2 scene 3, " For this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households' rancour to pure love." (2.3 91-92)
"What if it be a poison, which the friar subtly hath minister'd to have me dead"(4.3 24-25)
Fate played a large role in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, celestial imagery foreshadowed fate, as well as Shakespeare presenting many "what if" statements intricately intertwined, making the reader wonder what would happen, slowly ensuring that they would continue to read on.
Most Elizabethans believed in fate
Rich Elizabethans paid for horoscopes before major decisions
Many Elizabethans believed that they had no way of controlling their fate
Elizabethan Beliefs
Modern Day Beliefs
Fate also known as destiny
Expressed through fortune and fortune telling
Horoscopes are read in the paper or online daily
Expressed in different forms of literature including philosophy and creative writing
Romeo: "I feel too early, for my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars..." (1.4, 113)
How is this a "What if"?
Although the Friar does not directly say, "what if" the intended meaning can be represented in a "what if" phrase. If you paraphrase the previous quote, you end up with something along the lines of this.
In this quote Romeo is referring to the Capulet party that he is about to attend. Romeo believes that going to the Capulet party will have extreme consequences, and he even goes on to say that it will lead to an untimely death. Exemplifying Romeo using celestial imagery to represent fate in the play.
Jason Auffant, Nick Russello, and Ethan Bedell
What if, if I marry the two of you, the bitter hatred between the two of your families will turn to pure love, and the affected families will just leave the feud behind.
Although this is not what the Friar is literally saying, it can be interpreted in such a way. Also, it seems logical that the Friar, a man who has acquired a good deal of wisdom throughout his years, would make such a daring but well thought out decision. The two families had been feuding for generations and the Friar was now jumping on an opportunity to end the feud.
Many examples of "What if's" are presented within the play, some more important then others and some of equal importance.
Why is this significant?
Juliet is now wondering what the outcome of drinking this mixture will be, we as the reader, know that Romeo and Juliet are both destined to die, however the reader now wonders, will it be at this time? By including this, Shakespeare creates a cliffhanger so to speak, the audience now has to wait and see whether or not Juliet shall awake from her slumber.
Overall, Shakespeare uses fate and celestial imagery in a very masterful way, and in such a way that enchances the reading and entices readers. Fate played a large role in many aspects in Romeo and Juliet. Although many precautions were made, the fate of the two lovers was inevitable. During the prologue it mentions "A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;" which, in the end of everything, ended up becoming true. Although Juliet may have not died in the expected way, she still ended up perishing by then end of the tragedy.
Written by William Shakespeare
Now, look back to the play, and think of specific examples of how Shakespeare uses fate throughout Romeo and Juliet. Take a minute to quickly discuss your example with the person next to you and try to find the most significant example.
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