Romeo & Juliet

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is widely known to be a tragedy, but what caused the atrocity for which it is so renowned? Some may argue fate was to blame for Romeo’s and Juliet’s deaths, that the situations these young lovers faced were depicted as being out of their control. Could Romeo have refused to attend the Capulet masque? Was Romeo destined to duel the raging Tybalt? Did Romeo and Juliet truly have to kill themselves? If one considers the specific circumstances and causes of these situations, the fact that all scenarios are the result of choice rather than chance, and the notion that the characters were never left without options, only one conclusion can be determined. It was unarguably the decisions made by characters, not those made by fate, that were responsible for the tragedy in Romeo and Juliet.
The play is set in Verona where two families and bitter enemies are feuding: the Capulets and the Montagues. Romeo, the son of Montague and Juliet, the daughter of Capulet first met at a feast in Capulet’s house. Romeo attended the masquerade with his cousin Benvolio and friend Mercutio after noticing the name of his crush, Rosaline, inscribed on the list of attendees. When Romeo first met Juliet, he was immediately infatuated with her. At first sight he proclaims, “Did my heart ever love till now? Forswear it, sight, / For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night” (Act I, scene 5, 50) In this quote, Romeo is saying that he never truly loved before this moment; Juliet was the most beautiful female he had ever seen. Following the masquerade, Romeo decides that he cannot go home; he must instead try to find Juliet. And so sought her despite the dangers such action entailed. He chose to re-enter the Capulet’s domain, abandoning this friends, in order to find Juliet. With Romeo arriving at her balcony, Juliet made a choice that was severely against her best interests, increasing the likeliness of a terrible end: the two professed their love for…