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The Concept of Destiny in Romeo and Juliet

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In the tragedy Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare challenges the notions of destiny and its effect on the lives of two star-crossed lovers. However, Romeo and Juliet’s deaths were arguably based on sequential impulses and interference. Destiny’s conceptualization has been scrutinized over time, with its reliability combatted realistically and literature-wise. Despite the appearance that fate is out of our control, one determines their own destiny because the majority of people are able to manifest their own thoughts, produce their own decisions, and execute their own actions.

Primarily, people are capable of forming thoughts and opinions. A New York Times article, “Does Everything Happen For a Reason”, states “Fate can lead us to blame those who suffer from disease and who are victims of crimes, and it can motivate a reflexive bias in favor of the status quo…”. Without free will, people wouldn’t hold opinions on matters such as religion, politics, etc. as well as have opposing ideas. In addition, Romeo and Juliet elaborates on Romeo’s thoughts, doubting his affection for Rosaline when in Juliet’s presence. Romeo states “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night”. In the play, Romeo becomes lovestruck by Juliet and aims to impress her, proving we control our destiny.

Moreover, people can control their decisions. In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet contemplated the consequences of drinking Friar Lawrence’s potion, as is encompassed by her monologue. Despite considering the possibilities, Juliet autonomously drinks to her passion for Romeo, thereby determining her own destiny. Another point is made in the article “If Romeo and Juliet Had Cell Phones”, where sociology professor Barry Wellman states “The big problems were that they couldn’t coordinate with each other, they couldn’t find each other, and they had a lot of miscommunication about each other.” This quotation implies that Romeo and Juliet both made decisions that led to both of their eventual deaths.

Furthermore, people create outcomes for impending situations. As encapsulated by author Alyssa Rosenburg in the article “Romeo and Juliet is a Terrible Play, and David Leveaux Can’t Change That”, both Romeo and Juliet died due to continuously vacuous decisions. This details that their actions consequently caused their deaths, similarly expressed in the tragedy itself when Romeo purchased an apothecary’s poison upon hearing of Juliet’s ‘death’. In the play, he states “Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight. Let’s see for means…I do remember an apothecary — and hereabouts he dwells”. In defiance of destiny, Romeo determined that he would be by Juliet’s side, alive or dead.

One could argue that the unusual events approaching Romeo and Juliet’s deaths prove that destiny played some role in their tragedy, and therefore it must be potent in our everyday lives. On the contrary, destiny played no significance in their actions; with each naïve decision, they always had a choice, from Romeo going to the Capulet Ball to Juliet faking her death. They paved a way, slowly but surely, for their demise, meaning destiny wasn’t present.

In conclusion, the determination of destiny relies on the individual, as is proven by Romeo and Juliet and by the fact that people are within control of reasoning, intentions, and endeavors. Humans are very powerful, and the belief that we are demoted to the will of a higher power like destiny can be detrimental in fulfilling the future. If we can’t determine our own destiny, are our lives really our own?

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