The prologue introduces the theme of fate when the lovers are called
death-marked. This means that the events of their lives, and their deaths, are somehow already decided.
There are lots of incidences throughout the play when the main characters refer to omens that hint at their tragic ending. For example, before the Capulet party, Romeo feels worried that something bad is
hanging in the stars. Later when Juliet looks at Romeo from the balcony she is upset that she sees him
as one dead in the bottom of a tomb.
We know from the start of the play that the lovers will die, and the events all lead to this tragic end.
Did you know? The references to fate in Romeo and Juliet would have been well understood by audiences at the time. People were generally more superstitious and many believed that the events of life were already decided.
Is Juliet aware of the tragic fate that lies ahead of her?
Juliet seems to refer to her tragic ending when she first meets Romeo. Juliet sends the Nurse to find out who he is and she says that if he is already married she will die alone:
What are Friar Lawrence’s views on fate?
Friar Lawrence believes that fate cannot be challenged. He says:
He fears that there was nothing they could do to prevent the deaths of the lovers because
a greater power or fate had already decided what would happen.
How does Mercutio remind the audience of the fate that awaits the lovers?
As Mercutio dies, he curses the Montagues and Capulets. He says:
Their fighting has ended in his death. The dramatic irony for the audience is that they know the deaths of Romeo and Juliet are ahead.
You can find the theme of fate in other plays by Shakespeare: