In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the combination of irrational and incautious decisions, supposedly for the greater good, ultimately brings about the tragic end of the star-crossed lovers. The erroneous and hasty decisions made by Capulet, although made from the love and compassion of his heart, essentially complicates matters between the pair. The Nurse’s betrayal and inconstancy strips Juliet of the last speck of faith she has and provokes her into making a careless and hurried decision. Friar Laurence’s misjudgement of situations and negligent decisions subsequently bring the lovers closer to their doom rather than their freedom.
Ultimately, the works of fate, the destructive Capulet-Montague feud, and the poor choices made by secondary characters are what gives rise to Romeo and Juliet’s cataclysmic end. Capulet’s reckless decisions essentially ignites the string of consequences that lead to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Capulet gives Paris his blessing to marry Juliet without taking into account her feelings on the matter and is very naive to thinking she will agree. Capulet highlights his ignorant manner and decision:Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tenderOf my child’s love. I think she will be ruled In all respects by me, nay more, I doubt it not. (Shakespeare 3. 4.
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12-14)Capulet does this more for his benefit of having an heir rather than to lift Juliet from her grief and his self-centeredness makes the barrier between Romeo and Juliet even more difficult to overcome. Secondly, when Juliet refuses to marry Paris, Capulet, in his fury, rejects her and threatens her banishment. Capulet’s ill-advised decisions isolates Juliet in time of affliction: Thursday is near; lay hand on heart, advice. An you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend An you be not, hang, beg, starve die in the streets,For, by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge theeNor what is mine shall never do thee good. (3. 5. 192-196)Although at first, Capulet’s intentions are for Juliet to be happy, his views quickly change after the deaths and he is not quite as accepting of Juliet’s contradictory decisions, thus adding more anguish onto her fragile mind. Thirdly, Capulet moves the wedding date one day up, therefore rushing Friar Laurence’s escape plan even more.
Amidst Capulet’s excitement he, although without his knowledge, complicates matters even further, “Send for the County; go tell him of this:/I’ll have this knot knit up to-morrow morning,” (4. 2. 23-24). In turn, Friar Laurence’s plan is forced to speed up and be carried out sooner than originally planned, opening a door to lots of possible mistakes and errors. Capulet’s inconsistent and negligent actions ultimately lead Juliet to her last hope, The Nurse. The Nurse, who once was quite fond of Romeo and Juliet’s love, betrays Juliet and gets her into a situation that she cannot get out of. At first, The Nurse is very encouraging and hopeful of the new found love and their rendez-vous, however she never bothers to inform her superiors about the relationship thus deceives Lord and Lady Capulet. The Nurse essentially sets up their date: “Hie to your chamber.
I’ll find Romeo/To comfort you; I wot well where he is./Hark ye, your Romeo will be here at night,” (3. 2.
138- 140). The Nurse has constantly been supportive of the love and therefore gains her trust, failing to take into account the consequences that will be faced from withholding information from the Capulet’s. Furthermore, The Nurse is also responsible for instilling a feeling of shame and guilt within Juliet when she complains about how irresponsible and awful Romeo is, and blaming his actions solely on him rather than his circumstances. The Nurse tests Juliet’s trust and faith she has in her by contradicting her opinion, “There’s no trust,/No faith, no honesty in men; all perjured,/All forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers/…Shame come to Romeo!” (3.
2. 85-87). Juliet is left feeling guilty, embarrassed, and upset both at The Nurse for pushing her boundaries and for leaving her second guessing if Romeo truly is the man for her.
Lastly, The Nurse goes against and betrays Juliet when she is pleading for help getting out of the marriage and rather pressures her into marrying Paris. The Nurse’s view on the matter is abruptly reversed and she decides to pursue another idea, “Then, since the case so stands that now it doth,/ I think it best you marry with the County./O, he’s a lovely gentlemen!/Romeo’s a dishclout to him,” (3. 5. 219-221). Being betrayed by the person she has the most faith and confidence in is what truly breaks Juliet. The Nurse, thinking their love is merely nothing but an infatuation, goes against Juliet’s plees and thus loses what she has protected most. Conclusively, The Nurse’s push to keep Juliet content and out of harm’s way are nothing but failed attempts which, in desperation, leads her to Friar Laurence.
Friar Laurence is the last person part of the series of flawed events leading up to the deaths, and his collection of thoughtless and impetuous decisions ultimately bring Romeo and Juliet to their tragic end. Friar Laurence agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet in hopes of ending the feud, not even bothering to consider the consequences that result from this decision. He does this more for the benefit of the families’ and the towns, rather than theirs, “In one respect I’ll thy assist be,/For this alliance may so happy prove,/To turn your households’ rancour to pure love,”(2. 3. 90-92). If Friar Laurence had never agreed to marry the two in the first place then the tragedy could have been prevented since the two had not officially espoused, freeing room for change. However, being wed ties them to each other, making them even more so in love. Moreover, Friar Laurence should not have given Juliet the sleeping potion because he rushes this decision, but still does it, knowing there is a high chance something may go wrong.
He gives her the potion when she arrives at his cell, flustered and desperate, “Let not thy Nurse lie with thee i thy chamber./Take thou this vial, being then in bed,/And this distilled liquor drink thou off…” (4. 1.
94-95). This potion that is given to Juliet to be with Romeo, in turn, makes Romeo misjudge the situation and results in fatalities, ones that could have been prevented. Finally, Friar Laurence’s final and most disastrous mistake is his failure to deliver the message of his plan to Romeo, causing Romeo to misread the situation, just how Laurence misjudges the intensity of it. He realizes his mistake, however, when it is far too late: Friar John: The searches of the town,Suspecting that we both were in a houseWhere the infectious pestilence did reign, Seal’d up my doors, and would not let us forth;Alas that my speed to Mantua there was stayed.
Friar Laurence: Who bare my letter, then, to Romeo?Friar John: I could not send it,- here it is again-… (5.2.
1-14) This, alternatively, delivers misinformation to Romeo and provides him with not the slightest idea of the real truth, leading to Romeo’s suicide. Ultimately, Friar Laurence’s plan ended up doing more harm than good, and Romeo and Juliet’s new beginning is coincidentally their violent end. Ultimately, the erroneous and impetuous decisions made by main and secondary characters, the disastrous feud, and fate’s work is what leads to the downfall of the lovers.
Capulet’s irresponsible decisions, accompanied by his blinding love for Juliet, sets Romeo and Juliet up for the disasters ahead. The Nurse’s deception and unfaithfulness in people and true love ruins far more than just a mere marriage. Friar Laurence’s ingenious, although malevolent, plan is in vain, for his interference is so calamitous it, climatically, obliterates Romeo and Juliet.
To conclude, Romeo and Juliet, before all else, is a love story. In his play, Shakespeare managed to convey how the forcefulness of love go hand-in-hand with the power of fate and its tragic ends. The story of Romeo and Juliet shows us that falling in love is inevitable, its learning how to cope with the pain of it that can destroy us. After all, these violent delights have violent ends.