"A pair of star-crossed lovers", Romeo and Juliet. From the opening scenes of the play these two children of feuding families were destined to fall in love together and eventually die together. How does the reader see this? How do we know it was fate which triggered these events? Coincidence caused the death of these two lovers. For this reason Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's great tragedies. For coincidence to have caused the death of Romeo and Juliet it must have been evident in the events leading up to their deaths. These events include their meeting and falling in love, their separation, their reunion and finally their suicides. Solving the ancient feud between their families was the only real result of these untimely deaths. How did Romeo and Juliet meet? Was it by fate or could it have been avoided? Romeo and Juliet could not have avoided coming in contact with each other, they were brought together by uncontrollable circumstances. In Romeo and Juliet's time Verona (a city in Italy approximately 100 km west of Venice) was a fair sized city, and "bumping" into an acquaintance was unlikely. During the course of Act I, Scene II, the contrary had happened, and happened by chance. As Romeo and Benvolio were nearing a public area they were stopped by a Capulet servant. After Romeo had read the guest list to the Capulet party and the servant was on his way, Benvolio suggested that to relieve himself of his sadness for Rosaline, Romeo should go to the party and compare Rosaline to the other female guests. Romeo agreed Another example of coincidence is evident here. If Rosaline had not been attending, Benvolio would not have thought anything of the party. During the Capulet's ball Romeo and Juliet had seen each other, once this happened, there was no force that could have stopped them from falling in love. The encounter with the servant in the city set off an unlikely chain of events. Given the information following, none of these events could have been altered or avoided . "And for that offense immediately we do exile him hence," (Romeo and Juliet, III, II, 191-192). Romeo's banishment and the fate involved with it is a prime factor in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Why banishment? In Act I, Scene I the Prince's words were quite the contrary. Was it intentional that a man of such high standard would go back on his word? Perhaps. Romeo's exile poisons all possibility of happiness for himself and Juliet. His exile causes Juliet great sorrow, greater then if he had been executed, as stated by Juliet in Act III, Scene II, lines 130-131. Juliet's sorrow drives her to obtain a "knockout potion" from Friar Laurence which, in effect causes Romeo to make some important decisions regarding his well being. Romeo's banishment (brought about by the death of Tybalt) initiated the Friar's scheme which eventually leads the two lovers to their deaths. In reuniting the two lovers, timing played the largest role in deciding if they would live or die. Friar Laurence had two chances to deliver the message to Romeo regarding Juliet's present state. The first and most practical method of sending this message was through Romeo's "man", Balthasar. The second method was to send the message with Friar John. Timing was an important factor in both of these events. Friar Laurence had missed his opportunity to send the message with Balthasar and reverted to sending it with Friar John. As fate would have it, Friar John was locked up in a condemned house because of the plague. As a result Romeo received incorrect information. The only information he received from the unsuspecting Balthasar was that Juliet was dead. There are two important points to note in this area of the play. One being the reference to star-crossing made by Romeo when he heard of Juliet's death. "Is it even so? then I defy you, stars." (Romeo and Juliet, V, I, 24). The second being that when Romeo received the poison he states "Come cordial, and not poison, go with thee." (Romeo and Juliet, V, I, 85). This is coincidental to what Juliet had said earlier, in Act IV, Scene III, when she drinks to Romeo. Cordial means hearty, or sincere. When someone drinks to someone else it is usually in good health. The reuniting of the two lovers in such circumstances (Romeo's unawareness) could only have happened as it did by timing. One could ask what if the friar had left early?, or what if the friar had caught Balthasar and given him the message? Because of bad timing neither happened. Coincidence is a controlling element regarding the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, more so than in other areas of the play. The following examples also deal with "close-calls", which involve timing as well as coincidence After Romeo had slew Paris and entered the tomb and found Juliet's seemingly dead body, he uttered some interesting words. "Death that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, hath had no power yet upon thy beauty. Thou art not conquered; beauty's ensign yet is crimson in thy lips and cheeks." (Romeo and Juliet, V, III, 92-95.). Here Romeo is saying how alive Juliet looks. All he had to do was touch her and she may have been awakened and the play would have ended without a tragic closing. As Romeo drank the apothecaries mixture he drank to Juliet, as she had done before in Act IV, Scene III. This minor coincidence does not have much bearing on the course of the play, but changes the way we think of "toasting" to someone. Friar Laurence entered the tomb just less than half an hour after Romeo had killed himself. If the Friar had entered the tomb earlier he could have explained the situation to Romeo and no harm would have come to anyone. The Friar has proved himself to be a brave man. He married Romeo and Juliet without the consent of Juliet's father. Then why did the friar behave out of character and leave the tomb when he heard the call of the watch. This gave Juliet the opportunity to get hold of Romeo's well placed dagger (coincidence?) and kill herself. If the Friar had not fled he would have convinced Juliet not to kill herself as he did with Romeo in Act III, Scene III. To prove Romeo and Juliet to be a tragedy we must first prove that the death of the two lovers was caused by circumstances outside of their control or more simply, by destiny. The events which lead up to Romeo and Juliet's death are all inter-related. If any of the events were absent from the list, the following events could not of happened. The list, as mentioned before is as follows; meeting, separation, reunion, and their suicides. Romeo and Juliet's meeting has been proved to be by coincidence. If Romeo and Benvolio had not "bumped" into the Capulet servant the events would not have unfolded in the way they did. Romeo and Juliet had been separated because Prince Escalus had ordered it, what makes this unusual is that in Act I, Scene I, the Prince's warning indicated that further violent confrontations would result in death. Romeo did not receive the message from the Friar in Act V, Scene I, because of coincidence. If he had received the message, the Friar's scheme would have gone as planned. Coincidence is exceedingly evident when Romeo enters the tomb to die with Juliet as proven earlier. As the coincidences in the novel build up, the reader's idea of reality changes, and enables Shakespeare create one of his greatest tragedies, Romeo and Juliet.
Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in Romeo and Juliet and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Romeo and Juliet at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1 : The Use of Foreshadowing in Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare uses foreshadowing in Romeo and Juliet to warn the reader that danger or a perilous situation is near. As the play opens in the city of Verona, and the audience settles down to hear the tale of the star-crossed lovers, it is evident that things are not going to turn out well for the pair. The story of Romeo and Juliet progresses and the foreshadowing becomes heavier. The witty word play that Shakespeare so often employs serves as a double entendre for the impending events, such as Mercutio’s admittance that the next day will find him a “grave man". In what scenes of the play is the foreshadowing the strongest, and what is the event being foreshadowed? What does Shakespeare hope to accomplish with the foreshadowing, and what does use does foreshadowing deliver to the audience? For this essay on Romeo and Juliet, consider the overall importance and role of foreshadowing using the questions listed here as a guide.Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Power of Destiny in Romeo and Juliet
The powerful concept of fate and destiny has intrigued many writers, including William Shakespeare. Although Romeo and Juliet scheme up many ways to be together, it is almost certain that they have no hand in their fate; they are merely being pushed along by fate. As Juliet prepares to leave everything she loves, Romeo is caught up in the cosmic warfare between his family and the Capulet’s, fighting for his life against her cousins and is eventually banished by the King. Using these examples, as well as Shakespeare’s own textual hints, describe how destiny controls the end result Romeo and Juliet’s ill-fated union. Did they ever have a chance together? Why or why not?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3 : The Role of Religion in Romeo & Juliet
The theme of religion appears quite frequently throughout the text of Romeo and Juliet. In what ways does religion in Romeo and Juliet allude to the feelings that the lovers have for each other? Romeo compares Juliet to a saint as he kisses her hand, saying that he is unworthy to do so, and at several moments, the duo declare their love as divined by God. What is the connection between their affair and the heavens, and do they perhaps overestimate God’s favor? If God really approves of their love, why is it that the one religious figure in the play causes their deaths? Also, in what way does the language used between Romeo and Juliet add to the consecration of their relationship?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 : The Depiction of Romantic Love in Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is, at its core, a story about the undeniable power of love. Before Romeo and Juliet meet, both of them are involved with another. Romeo is infatuated with Rosaline, who does not return his feelings, and Juliet is betrothed to Paris by her father, but shows no true feelings towards him. However, once Romeo meets Juliet, their prospective romances fall apart as their feelings for one another eclipse their respective feelings towards Rosaline and Paris. In what instances is their love for one another different from their feelings towards Rosaline and Paris? How do their interactions vary, and in what ways do the people around them notice these changes?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5 : Romeo & Juliet and the Role of the Feuding Families
The role of the family in Romeo & Juliet is perhaps the most important, as the feuding families end up being the ultimate downfall for Romeo and Juliet. Were it not for the battle between the Capulets and Montagues, the ending of Romeo and Juliet would have turned out far differently. The feuding causes Romeo’s banishment, the death of Tybalt, and the ultimate suicide of the lovers. In what ways are Romeo and Juliet driven to destruction by the wars of their families? Do the lovers underestimate the hatred between their fathers and overestimate the power of their love to overcome the family feud?
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This list of important quotations from Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Romeo and Juliet listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes from Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." (I.v.52-53)
“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun! Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, Who is already sick and pale with grief That thou her maid are far more fair than she." (II.2. 2-6)
“O, find him! Give this ring to my true knight And bid him come to take his last farewell." (III.ii.142-143)
“I dreamt my lady came and found me dead” (V.i.6).
“Then I defy you, stars!" (V.i.24)
“Oh! I am fortune’s fool" (III.i.131)
“God joined my heart and Romeo's, thou our hands" (IV.i.55)
“Or if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,/Which is the god of my idolatry,/ And I'll believe thee." (II.ii.113-115)
“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet." (II.i.74–78)
“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life, Whose misadventured piteous overthrows, Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife" (Prologue. 5-8)