To What Extent Are Romeo and Juliet Responsible for Their Own Downfall? Do the Capulet and Montague Families Share the Blame?

Topics: Romeo and Juliet, Characters in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet Capulet Pages: 7 (2723 words) Published: November 4, 2012
Romeo and Juliet is the tragic story of two young lovers, longing to be together but kept apart by their families. They prove their love for each other by going behind their parents' backs to meet, to be together and to be married before meeting an untimely death. Deciding who is ultimately responsible for their tragic end can be difficult as there are so many people who play a significant role in their lives and who have an influence on how the play unfolds. Firstly, although Romeo and Juliet are the protagonists of the play that doesn't mean they do not share in some of the blame. Their courtship was very brief, the play spans less than a week, so it could be argued that they rushed into their marriage without properly planning anything or taking the time to think of the consequences. It doesn't appear they had any plans beyond their wedding night yet they certainly could not have remained in Verona without telling their families, They rushed into things without thinking, a decision that was bound to end in disaster, just as Friar Lawrence warns Romeo; "Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast." Act 2 Scene 3 Line 94 Rushing into marriage without planning or thinking of the future was never going to end well. In this sense, Romeo and Juliet can be held responsible for their own deaths. However, we must remember that Shakespeare needed the pay to move quickly in order to ensure that he did not lose the audience's attention. If he were to include extra scenes with Romeo and Juliet getting to know each other or making plans, he risked losing his audience due to the lack of action on stage and slow progression of the plot. This is the same reason that Shakespeare has strong, romantic scenes written directly either side of conflicts, the juxtaposition of scenes; it captured the audience's attention and kept them interested and watching. If people began to leave during a performance because things were moving too slowly, Shakespeare would have lost his credibility as a playwright. With this in mind we perhaps cannot blame Romeo and Juliet for rushing into things and so cannot hold them fully responsible for their own deaths. Secondly, some people will say that the parents are to blame for continuing to fuel the feud for so long and letting it impact their children's happiness, yet playing such a small part in their children's lives otherwise. Evidence of this is present in the Capulet family as it appears the Nurse is closer to Juliet than Lady Capulet and certainly knows her best; "Faith I can tell her age unto an hour." Act 1 Scene 3 Line 11 We can only assume that Romeo wasn't very close to his parents by noting that they appear very little throughout the play and that Romeo tends to look to Friar Lawrence for advice. Perhaps it is because of their distant relationship with their parents that they decide they know better and disregard all the hateful propaganda they have been fed about one another's families. This would mean the parents could be seen as ultimately responsible for their children's deaths by not being close enough to them to understand what it was they wanted and for seemingly not caring enough to let them find happiness with whomever they chose instead of filling their minds with hate and involving them in the feud. "And the place of death considering who thou art,

If any of my kinsmen find thee here." Act 2 Scene 2 Line 64-65 Romeo and Juliet were obviously aware of the feud between their families, hardly surprising if even the servants are brawling in the streets. Perhaps this knowledge also provoked them to take such risks with each other. We must remember that they are both still teenagers and teenagers are known to have a rebellious side. The fact their parents didn't approve perhaps only made them more determined to be together, as shown by Romeo in the garden; "And what love can do, that dares love attempt.

Therefore thy kinsmen are no stop to me." Act 2 Scene 2 Line 68-69 On the same point,...
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