Main Themes Explored in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare uses a set of themes to present his ideas in the play
“Romeo and Juliet”. The theme of fate plays a major role in the play.
The “star- crossed lovers” (I.Proluge.6) are impelled unstoppably
through a sequence of events and they are caught up in a train of
circumstances, beyond their power to control. Among these are the
conflicts and struggles that they face against public and social
institutions that either explicitly or implicitly oppose the existence
of their love. These range from families and the placement of familial
power in the father; law and the desire for public ...view middle of the document...
An example of this given in the text
is Romeo’s premonition (Act 1: Scene 4) as he reluctantly joins the
masquerade to Capulet’s masked ball. Romeo has a strong sensation of
impending disaster that “blows us from ourselves” (line 105) and “some
consequences, yet hanging in the stars” (line 108) which may lead to
his death. Foreshadowing the consequences of attending the masked
ball, he asks the forces of fate to help him. “Cut He that hath the
steerage of my course, / Direct my sail” (line 113-114) he prays to
the supernatural power.
Another passage in the text, which further supports the theme, is
found near the play’s conclusion. Friar Lawrence reports to both
households that he has begged Juliet to leave the vault and “bear this
work of heaven with patience”(V.3.261) referring to Romeo’s suicidal
death. The priestly statement explains the origin of the series of
unfortunate events and its derivation from the supernatural being/s.
The same principle goes with the Prince’s final rebuke to the
families, “heaven finds means to kill your joys with love”(V.3.293).
It is only through the sacrificial loss of Romeo and Juliet through
their pure love that the families will learn to end the outrageous
The third type of fate is created through action or event. Old
Capulet’s decision to entrust the list of guests to one of his
servants, Peter, to remind all the guest of the “old accustom’d feast”
to be held that evening seems natural but it is the beginning of a
chain of events that will bring Romeo and Juliet together. Peter who
is illiterate seeks help in reading the names and Romeo is there to do
Mercutio’s death in Romeo’s arms with the haunting curse “a plague o’
both your houses”(III.1.106) a curse soon to be carried out which
effectively puts an end to the Friar’s plan to reunite simply the
warring families again reinforces the idea of fate created through
action or event.
Lastly is the horrible series of accidents which ruin Friar Lawrence’s
seemingly well- intentioned plans, including the failure of Friar John
to deliver the letter to Romeo (Act 5: Scene 2). All of these
ill-fated events lead to the lovers’ untimely end.
Love is an overpowering force that supersedes all other values,
loyalties and emotions. In the course of the play, the young lovers
are driven to defy their entire social world. Romeo abandons his
friends Mercutio and Benvolio after the masked ball in order to go to
Juliet’s garden. The couples’ love turn out to be even more profound
and real as young Juliet swears “Deny thy father and refuse thy name
or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love/And I’ll no longer be a
Capulet” (II.2.34). However instead of initiating optimistic results
such as happiness and prosperity in the contrary it leads to negative
proceedings such as...