William Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet is generally looked upon as a tragedy. There are many events that lead up to the tragic ending, and Fate plays a powerful role in each one. Fate becomes even more influential through the attention given to it by the characters. This is shown especially in the Queen Mab speech, which is given by Mercutio. The speech starts off lightly, signifying Love, but it continues to grown darker, Fate having the final word. In this monologue, Queen Mab is Fate. She is the influence that compels the Lovers to love more, Lawyers to persecute more, and the Soldiers to kill and conquer. While Queen Mab is literally Fate, the speech itself drives forward in a halting way that keeps getting more frantic and more intense. It has a driving force that is unknown to even those who it works through, which is the definition of Fate. This unseen authority moves the lives of the characters with little intervention from Love. Fate, not Love, is the main power behind the plot. Fate, not Love, is the main power behind the plot.
But Love is not a completely powerless entity in this play. There are times when Love pulls the plot in another direction. Love is how Romeo found Juliet on the balcony. When Juliet asks him how he discovered her on her balcony, Romeo replies, By love, that first did prompt me to enquire; / He lent me counsel . In this example, Love is clearly intervening with Romeo and Juliets lives. Love leads Romeo to Juliets window. That being said, Love also plays a subtle role in the storys course. Love for Juliet causes Romeo to interfere in the fight between Tybalt and Mercutio, in turn causing Mercutios death. Romeos cousinly love for Tybalt, and his refusal to fight him, gives Tybalt the opportunity to strike at Mercutio.
However, even with some evidence, it is plainly seen that Love does not hold the same power as Fate. Fate clearly drives the story. The characters recognize Fate countless times, bringing more attention to its power. The first time the audience is aware of Fate is when Romeo is lamenting his unrequited love for Rosaline. Romeo says, Ay, mine own fortune in my misery. Romeo is making an attempt to read what Fate has in store for him. He thinks his fate is to eternally pine for Rosaline. Although he is wrong about what Fate has planned for him, this moment in the play alerts the reader that Fate plays an important role in the characters lives. Fate is next mentioned when Romeo kills Tybalt. O, I am fortunes fool! Romeo again recognizes the effect that Fate has had on his life. Afterwards, Juliet speaks of Romeos banishment by questioning Fate. O fortune, fortune! All men call thee fickle: / If thou art fickle, what doest thou with him / That is renownd for faith? Be fickle fortune . Although all of these examples show the immense power that Fate controls, the most notable of Fates interventions is when Friar John is unable to deliver Friar Laurences letter. Friar Laurence immediately picks up on this intrusion by Fate, calling it Unhappy fortune! This troublesome Fate is what Mercutio describes in his monologue, depicted by Queen Mab. She is bringing people further into their pre-destined fate, willing to manipulate and violate anything in her path to help her cause. She does this to her subjects without mercy. As Mercutio continues to expand on her exploits, he becomes more and more impassioned as some invisible force compels him forward.
An unseen force seems to affect even the language of the characters, as Fate touches every aspect of the play. Mercutios rapid progression in his monologue is only one of the places where the meter and pace of the poetry seems to be controlled by some outside force. An outside force which audience is led to believe is Fate. The two most notable examples are the dialogues of the Nurse and Friar Laurence in the third act. The Nurse begins Act III: Scene 2 by introducing the fight between Romeo and Tybalt to Juliet. As their conversation continues, the pace becomes increasingly frenzied. The Nurse continually gives Juliet reason to believe that Romeo is dead, making Juliet nearly hysteric at the end of their discussion . The Friars speech to Romeo is equally passionate. The Friar begins by trying to convince Romeo to stop being so pessimistic about his banishment, but the speech ends with the Friar directing Romeo out of the cell and to Juliets side . These dialogues keep hurdling forward, until they finally reach their end, an ending predestined by Fate, but enticed forward by Love.
As the play goes along, the line between Fate and Love become fuzzier. The Chorus says in the beginning of the play that Romeo and Juliet are star-crossed lovers ; they are destined to be together. Upon first seeing Juliet, Romeo proclaims, Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight, / For I neer saw beauty till this night. Juliet returns Romeos love instantly, saying, If he be married /My grave is like to be my wedding bed. The inability to distinguish between Fate and Love being the driving influence is next apparent at their death. We are told that pair was destined to die, but had their love not been present, there would not have been cause to commit suicide. Romeos final words (Heres to my love! ) show Loves power in the story.
Even so, I am reluctant to say that Love is more powerful than Fate. Love can be ignored, but Fate is always present. Romeo ignores Fate when Mercutio speaks of it. Nonetheless, Romeo becomes ultimately a subject of Fate, but being led by Love. Fate and Love seem to work almost simultaneously in places, and together, bring about the tragic ending of the play.