Who is to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet

A number of events led up to Romeo and Juliet’s tragic deaths, some caused by people, others caused by fate. One such event was Romeo not receiving the letter in which details of Juliet’s fake death were written. Friar John’s words “ I could not send it, nor send a messenger to bring it thee” could have been a case of bad luck or it could show Friar John’s incompetence. If he couldn’t find a messenger he should have perhaps taken it himself. So in a small part Friar John might have been to blame. Another event that led up to their deaths was Romeo being banished to Mantua because he killed Tybalt.

Romeo would not have killed Tybalt if the latter hadn’t murdered his best friend Mercutio. “Why the dev’l came you between us, I was hurt under your arm” spoken by Mercutio, illustrates that Romeo hadn’t been trying to start a fight and was in fact trying to break one up between Mercutio and Tybalt. So if Tybalt hadn’t come seeking a fight, Romeo wouldn’t have been banished. Therefore Tybalt is also partly to blame. Montague is similarly slightly liable, if he had not tried to force Juliet into marrying Paris she would not have had to turn to such a desperate measure as pretending to kill herself.

The play is set in a patriarchal society, which gave Montague the power to do this without being questioned. However as a loving father he shouldn’t have forced this decision on Juliet without consulting her first. He gave her the horrible ultimatum of either marrying Paris or being estranged from her family, as indicated by his command to “Go with Paris to Saint Peter’s church or I will drag thee on a hurdle hither” The Nurse is also partially responsible for what occurred. She had known about Romeo and Juliet from the beginning of their relationship and had assisted them in keeping it going.

She carried messages to and fro, as shown by the lines “My young lady bid me enquire you out” and “I ‘faith I will tell her as much. Perhaps if she had come forward sooner and told Lady Capulet, then Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t have had to kill themselves. Of course they might not still have been together, but they wouldn’t be dead. I think a major player in the game was Friar Lawrence, he was the one who married them in the first place, kept it a secret and it was also his idea for Juliet to pretend to be dead.

As a man of the church he should have been more responsible, he had his reasons of course, he thought that “this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households’ rancour to pure love”. However that is not an excuse for marrying two former enemies without their parents’ consent or knowledge. Moreover he invented the plan in which Juliet pretended to die and encouraged Juliet to drink the sleeping potion when he said “This distilling liquor drink thou off”. A part of him obviously knew what he was doing was wrong, his guilt comes through when he tells Juliet “I’ll dispose of thee among a sisterhood of holy nuns”.

He was obviously trying to disassociate himself from the event; since Juliet was the only one who knew all he’d done, he had to get her away. For these reasons a lot of the blame should be placed on Friar Lawrence’s shoulders. Last but not least Romeo and Juliet themselves are to blame for their own deaths. Firstly they should have been more cautious about falling in love with each other, a fact adequately demonstrated from Juliet’s line “My only love sprung from my only hate”. Their families had had an on going feud with much bitterness and hatred on either side.

So it was slightly unethical for Romeo and Juliet to forget all of that and marry without thinking of the consequences. Romeo’s character is shown to be quite impetuous- as soon as he saw Juliet he forgot all about Rosalind (his previous love who he had been pining for till that moment) and stated” I ne’er saw true beauty till this night”. Another instance of his impetuous nature is revealed when as soon as he heard a rumour from one person that Juliet was dead, he became a “man who did need a poison now”.

He didn’t confirm it or investigate exactly what happened. Juliet, although not introduced as a particularly impetuous character, is shown to rush into things as well. After she knew Romeo for just a few hours she stated that since they loved each other, they should do the honourable thing and marry as soon as possible. She just asked him “ Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite” and promised to come. An interesting fact to be noted is that the entire story took place over less than a week.

In the entire play Romeo and Juliet only met each other four times when they were both alive and they had known each other for less than a day when they got married. Perhaps if they had taken time to know each other better, the story would not have ended as such. Friar Lawrence tried to warn them of this as well when he told Romeo “Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast”. In conclusion, no single person or event contributed towards the untimely deaths of Romeo and Juliet, a number of small yet significant events all added up to this tragic ending.

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