There are many factors throughout the story of Romeo and Juliet that leads to their deaths. It is an unfortunate outcome of the story that we are even warned about in the prologue. Romeo and Juliet are described as a ‘pair of star-crossed lovers’ this asserts the fact they are ill-fated, also their connection between each other is described as ‘death-marked love’ which also suggests that their relationship will be connected with death. Their ‘death-marked love is a result of four factors: fate, the feud between the families, Romeo and Juliet themselves, and other characters such as Friar Lawrence and Capulet.
Most of their problems are just down to chance or according to the prologue, fate. The first of these events is Capulet’s servant accidentally meeting Romeo and Benvolio in Act1 Scene2. The servant is carrying an invitation to Capulet’s party but cannot read it, ‘I pray, sir, can you read?’ he asks Romeo. Romeo offers to read it for him, noticing that a girl named Rosaline will be there whom Romeo is currently in love with, he slyly adds himself and Mercutio to the list.
Once at the party in Act1 Scene5, Romeo is discovered by Tybalt (line 53) but Capulet intervenes by stopping him as he does not want any blood shed at his party. Tybalt leaves the party threatening vengeance, which will act as a complication to the young lovers later on. Romeo unaware of this then meets Juliet for the first time, their love blossoms quickly as if it was ‘love at first sight’. The nurse then intervenes and from her, Romeo finds out that Juliet is a Capulet, and he being a Montague is a big problem as they have been brought up to hate each other but Romeo looks past this feud and continues to love Juliet. Though Romeo is a Montague and an enemy to all Capulets, Juliet still loves him though regrets that she must ‘love a loathï¿½d enemy’. Though Romeo and Juliet are supposed to hate each other they cannot stop their blossoming love, and the day after the party they decide to have a secret marriage in Act2 Scene6.
Act3 Scene1 is possibly the most directional scene in ‘Romeo and Juliet’, here the vengeance sworn Tybalt, meets with Mercutio and Benvolio and they quarrel amongst each other threatening death. Romeo then enters and Tybalt says to Mercutio ‘Well, peace be with you sir, here comes my man.’ This indicates that Tybalt’s fight is with Romeo and not Mercutio. Romeo, now related to Tybalt through Juliet, wishes to keep the peace and says to Tybalt, ‘Villain am I none; Therefore farewell, I see thou knowest me not.’ Mercutio now thinks Romeo is a coward for backing away from the fight with Tybalt and exclaims, ‘O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!’ and draws his sword on Tybalt, a fight between Tybalt and Mercutio arises. Romeo steps between them to stop them and Tybalt stabs Mercutio from under Romeo’s arm. Mercutio, on the verge of death is angry at the Capulets and the Montagues, ‘A plague a’ both houses!’
He now hates the Montagues as well because Romeo is a Montague yet did not help him in his fatal duel with Tybalt. Enraged from Tybalt killing his best friend Mercutio, Romeo fights with Tybalt and kills him, suddenly realising what he has done he is angry at is behaviour, to Benvolio he says, ‘O, I am fortune’s fool.’ He says as he remembers what the prince had said in Act 1 Scene1 to the opposing houses, that ‘If ever you disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.’ Romeo is then caught but not executed as the Prince promised, he is exiled from Verona because he killed Tybalt for killing his friend Mercutio, which is seen as not as bad as killing him for an unjust reason.
In Act3 Scene5 witnesses the last meeting of Romeo and Juliet before he has to leave to Mantua. This is interrupted by Juliet’s father who insists that she marries Paris on Thursday, Juliet protests strongly as she is already married to Romeo, but her father does not know this and he gets angry and starts insulting her when she says she won’t marry Paris for apparently no reason. He gets so angry he threatens to disown her if she does not comply with his wishes, he says, ‘Graze where you will, you shall not house with me’; this quarrel also upsets Juliet’s mother and now she won’t talk to Juliet, Juliet then turns to the Nurse, who urges her to marry Paris also. Feeling betrayed she sends the Nurse away and then resolves to seek Friar Lawrence’s aid.
Act4 Scene2 sees a big problem in Friar Lawrence’s plan for Juliet to take the potion to make her seem dead and getting a letter to Romeo in time explaining what is going on. The hope given to Juliet that everything was going to turn out good is shattered when news from her father that the wedding is going to be tomorrow – a day earlier than planned, ‘I’ll have this knot knit up tomorrow morning.’ This means it won’t be easy to get a letter to Romeo in time.
Act5 Scene1, Romeo gets news from Balthasar about Juliet, but the news is inaccurate, Balthasar explains that Juliet is dead, ‘Her body sleeps in Capels’ monument’. Romeo, deeply upset from news of Juliet’s death decides to ride in to Verona to see Juliet one last time before dieing at his side, he uses all the money he has to hire a horse and buy a bottle of poison. The scene ends with him heading to Verona saying, ‘Come, cordial and not poison, go with me to Juliet’s grave, for there I must use thee.’ This is seen as a loving gesture from Romeo as the word cordial means a ‘healthy drink’, like when someone is making a toast the drink in their hand is described as a cordial.
In Act5 Scene2 Friar John – the person who was to deliver the message to Romeo – explains that he was quarantined in a house due to threat of plague and could not deliver the letter and gives it back to Friar Lawrence, ‘I could not send it – here it is again – Nor get a messenger to bring it thee, so fearful were they of infection’. So Friar Lawrence, knowing Romeo does not know that Juliet is not actually dead; tries to send another letter to Romeo in Mantua, unknown to him that he is already on his way to Verona to see Juliet.
Act5 Scene3 is the result of the consequences throughout the play; Romeo kills Paris whilst trying to gain entry to Juliet’s tomb, sees her and drinks the poison and dies at her side as he wished, ‘O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.’ Romeo’s body is found by Balthasar and Friar Lawrence next to Juliet. Juliet then wakes to find Romeo dead, and ignores Friar Lawrence’s advice to flee with him and she stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger, ‘O happy dagger, [Taking Romeo’s dagger] this is thy sheath; [Stabs herself.] there rust, and let me die.’ The pair of lovers are then discovered by Capulet and Montague, who because of Romeo and Juliet reconcile their differences and promise to set up a golden statue of the young lovers.
The feud between the Capulets and Montagues meant that Romeo and Juliet could never show their love openly. If there was no feud this would have stopped Capulet forcing Juliet to marry Paris in Act3 Scene5 and he would accept Romeo as his son-in-law, also Tybalt may not have fought Romeo as he would have realised they were related and have no reason to kill Mercutio as they wouldn’t be enemies.
Romeo and Juliet themselves can also be blamed for being married too quickly, they met on Sunday and married on Monday; it was too impatient and self-centred. Yet despite their hastiness to be married, their language and actions do suggest deep love for each other: Act2 Scene6 when they get married, Act3 Scene3 Romeo tries to stab himself when he hears Juliet is upset because he killed Tybalt and believes she no-longer loves him, and Act4 Scene1 when Juliet is talking with Friar Lawrence about killing herself to avoid being married with Paris.
Finally the other characters that contribute to Romeo and Juliet’s death are Friar Lawrence: He is the one who decided to agree with their secret marriage in the first-place, and came up with the plan to help Juliet not get married to Paris which ended in Romeo and Juliet dieing. Though if he hadn’t intervened then they would already be dead as he is the one who helped them over-come their want to die, and without him the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues would still exist as no-one would be their to explain what happened.
Capulet: He became a problem when he insisted that Paris was to marry Juliet, this was sorted out by Friar Lawrence but when he brought the wedding forward by a day it didn’t give Friar Lawrence enough time to send the message to Romeo.
Tybalt: He was a problem since he swore revenge on Romeo for coming to the Capulets party, when he caught up with Romeo, he killed Mercutio then was slain by Romeo which got Romeo banished from Verona, if this hadn’t happened, Romeo would know about Friar Lawrence’s plan.
Looking at the story of Romeo and Juliet, there are many factors surrounding the tragedy of the ‘star-crossed lovers’, it would seem that their love was destined to be doomed from the very beginning, yet their love and unity remains through the unity of the Capulets and Montagues at the end and by the gold statue that is put up in their honour.