The story of the “star crossed lovers” is a true tragedy as there was so much potential for the relationship to work. The feelings that the couple from “two houses alike in dignity” were so immense that they ended up dying for each other. If it wasn’t for fate, their dedication would have allowed them to grow old together, and not end up dying at such a young age.
Fate is a continuous factor throughout the play and leads to much of the tragedy. A good example of this is the Capulet party. It is quite ironic that Peter, the Capulets servant can’t read the list of people invited to the Capulets party. So he approaches Benvolio. This leads to Mercutio asking Romeo to come with them the party, which happens to be a masked ball, so they would not be identified as Montagues.
In Act 1, Scene 4, Romeo says “some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, shall bitterly begin this fearful date” Even before he had met Juliet, Romeo has predicted that something will start that night of the party but would lead to disaster and heartache- which it eventually does.
Perhaps the largest part of that fate plays in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is in Act 2, Scene 3, where friar Lawrence is established as a herbalist. This gives him the knowledge to make the concoction that makes Juliet appear dead. If Juliet had not appeared dead, then Romeo would have not have committed suicide. Thus ending with them still alive, but by chance they both had visited Friar Lawrence and not a different religious representative.
The relationship between the parents and children makes the suicides truly sad, as Romeo and Juliet were two children who would be missed.
Montague and Lady Montague were both concerned for Romeo when he is acting differently because of Rosalyn’s rejection. Lady Montague asks Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin, “O where is Romeo?” because she is concerned. Montague then goes on to say “Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow, we would as willingly give cure as know.” He is basically saying – I would give anything to know what troubles my son, and to make it right.
Capulet only wants the best for his daughter and at the beginning of the story Capulet tells Paris, Juliet is too young to marry. “Earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she.” Meaning, Juliet is Capulets only surviving child. “She is the hopeful lady of my earth.” He wants things to go right for his much loved daughter.
The death of Tybalt causes Capulet to realise life is short and that Juliet should marry Paris to make her secure in life. Juliet refuses Paris as a husband so Capulet threatens to throw Juliet out because she is disgracing Capulet. He says, “You shall not house with me.” “And you be not hang, beg, starve, die in the streets!” Although he did not do this to be horrible, he just wanted the best for his daughter and he considered the best to be Paris; a “lovely gentleman”
Juliet appears to have a formal relationship with her mother, Lady Capulet. Juliet has not been raised by her Mother, but by her nurse. There is a lack of emotion between the mother and daughter. Throughout the play there is very little conversation between the two, and Lady Capulet only seems to deliver messages, and do as Capulet tells her. She seems to have no power or place in Juliet’s life. The nurse has raised Juliet and Capulet makes all the important decisions.
Juliet’s nurse takes messages between Romeo and Juliet making the relationship easier for them. “As I told you, my lady bade me inquire you out.” -The nurse speaking to Romeo. When Romeo tells the nurse of the marriage, the nurse replies “This afternoon sir? Well, she shall be there.” The nurse can travel freely around Verona and suspicions are not raised when she speaks to Romeo, unlike Juliet, who would rarely be allowed out of the Capulets mansion, let alone to speak to a male and a family enemy.
Friar Lawrence’s plan to “Turn your households rancour to pure love.” was a good idea but misguided. If he had refused to marry the couple then perhaps their dedication to each other would not have been so strong. If Benvolio had not persuaded Romeo to come to the party then he would never have seen Juliet and a relationship would not have started. Juliet would probably have ended up marrying Paris and would have found another lover to idolise.
Courtly love is a part of both Romeo and Juliet’s lives, although not involved in their relationship together. Romeo at first wishes to court Rosalyn but she is not interested. The love Paris had got for Juliet is courtly. When Paris speaks to Capulet he says, “Now my lord, what say you to my suit.” and “Younger than she are happy mothers made.” There is no reference to how much he loves Juliet but that he wants to make Juliet a happy mother. There is no romance between the two. Paris arranged the marriage through Capulet. Juliet appears to have no affection towards Paris, as she barely knows him. After Tybalts Death, the marriage to Paris is forced upon Juliet.
When Romeo and Juliet first met there was a fascination between them that continues throughout the entire play, although it is far more obvious at the beginning of the story. When they first met there was lots of flirting and Romeo plays words and refers to “blushing pilgrims” (his lips) and “a shrine” (her hands).
After this meeting the feelings that they have for each other becomes deeper. “Juliet is the sun, arise fair sun and kill the envious moon.” Romeo is so in love with Juliet, he is comparing her to the goddess of the moon and saying that Juliet is far more beautiful. “Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, having some business, do entreat her eyes.” Again Romeo is comparing her spiritual representations. He is almost saying she is more than human. Juliet is what all mankind look up to with the urge to explore, and yet not quite understanding what is attracting them to her.
Romeo’s love soon turns to lust – “O whilt though leave me so unsatisfied?” (Act 2, Scene 2). Romeo is basically asking Juliet if she is going to make love to him. Her reply is that she will only make love to him if they are married. At this point their relationship enters a new level of commitment, and once married, a more mature relationship is established.
Once Romeo is banished foe killing Tybalt, it becomes clear how dedicated Juliet really is. If the plan had gone right, Juliet would have given up her family and security to live with Romeo and to be his wife forever. Upon hearing about Romeo being banished for her cousin’s death, Juliet says, “I’ll go to my wedding bed, and death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead.” (Act 3, Scene 2) – She would rather die a virgin that night, than live without Romeo. But because the plan went wrong, we see Juliet has all consuming feelings of love for Romeo and their relationship.
When discovering Juliet’s “death”, Romeo asks Balthasar “Hast thou no letters to me from the friar?” the Friar’s letter had not been delivered to Romeo and so he is unaware that Juliet is just under the Friar’s concoction. However, unaware of the circumstances, Romeo heads back to Juliet. On seeing her body he swears they will live forever and he swallows the poison. “Seal with a righteous kiss a dateless bargain to engrossing death.” Meaning that he and Juliet will be together forever in death (Act 5, Scene 3).
When Juliet awakes she is shocked to see Romeo’s dead body lying next to her. She cannot live without Romeo so she stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger and as she does so she says, “O happy dagger! This is thy sheath; there rest and let me die!” She would rather be dead than live without her one true love.
The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet could still happen in today’s society as the amount of control that Capulet had over Juliet still exists today although perhaps not to such a high degree. It could cause a teenager to rebel against their parents and go with the person their parents would disapprove of most. Juliet has quite a remote and emotionless relationship with her mother and a girl today may well seek the attention and “love” of an older male to replace the affection that she doesn’t receive at home.
People today still have arranged marriages, either as a part of religion or tradition. If they could not support themselves without their parents, then they may marry so they don’t end up on the streets. There are still people committing suicide because of “love”. Some people can be so deeply in love that they are willing to die if their partner died because they see no point in living without them.
Friends loyalties are, generally, to their friends and not to their parents. This could lead to messages and rumours being passed between the two partners form their friends. Also Love at first sight is not a common occurrence but it does happen.
There are factors though, that makes the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet happening in today very unrealistic. In today’s society, children would not necessarily have to marry someone they don’t want to. Most parents don’t want their children to rush into marriage at that age.
Parents today are more comfortable with their children “dating” and family feuds still occur but are far less common.
Marriage is no longer a lifetime commitment. Divorce is a common practise between couples who no longer want to be together for whatever reason. This means there is no real reason to commit suicide to escape a relationship you don’t want to be in.
Several of the key events, which make Romeo and Juliet a true tragedy, come back down to fate. It would be extremely difficult, or nearly impossible to find a drug that would make you appear dead. Even if you could, communication is much easier now than it was in Shakespeare’s time and an e-mail, phone call or text message could have been sent instead. Also it is now quite rare to find someone who can’t read. This would mean that the party would not have been known. But this is today so the news of someone having a party would not stay a secret for long and the word would spread quickly.
I personally believe that the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet could still happen in today’s society but it would not be on the same scale as the story of Romeo and Juliet.