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11. First, you'll want to find evidence that fate does play a part. In the Prologue, the lovers are called "star-crossed." On the way to the Capulets' ball, Romeo says, "My mind misgives / some consequence yet hanging in the stars / shall bitterly begin his fearful date with this night's revels" (I, vi, 104-6).
If you call "heaven" fate, Juliet acknowledges it (III, v, 211); so does Friar Lawrence (V, iii, 261), and Prince Escalus (V, iii, 293).
How does Fate cause the lovers downfall? One way is through "tragic accidents." This is how Romeo and Benvolio find out about the Capulets' ball, how Tybalt knows that Romeo is there, and how Romeo ends up under Juliet's window.
You can also examine how fate uses time against the lovers. A day, an hour-even several minutes-would have saved them, but fate takes that time away from them. Why must Romeo leave for Mantua so soon? Why is Juliet's wedding date reset? Why does Romeo get news of Juliet's death so quickly? Why does he get to the tomb so fast?
You'll need to decide for yourself how important is fate's role. Is it the only factor that does in the lovers? Or does it work with the lovers' characters to cause the tragedy? Is fate or character more important?
12. The section in this book on Juliet's character is a good place to start. Give proof that Juliet's innocent at the beginning of the play. We're told she's "not yet fourteen," and we see her with her mother and her childhood Nurse. She seems to have little experience of the world-she says that marriage is "an honour I dream not of" (I, iii, 66).
She's willingly obedient to her mother, and why not? She has no reason not to trust her Nurse and her mother completely. The world is full of hope to her, and she now has the promise of a good marriage with Paris. Then, we need to see how the "real world" affects Juliet. She isn't attracted to Paris, she falls in love with Romeo. Her innocence in love is replaced by the experience of marriage. Not only does she gain sexual experience, but she soon finds out that relationships are loaded with problems. Romeo's anger leads him to kill Tybalt, and Romeo is banished from Verona. Juliet also discovers that her parents aren't always reasonable, or on her side. They have their happiness, rather than hers, at heart. She finally discovers that she can't even depend on her Nurse.
Let's look at the end of the play to see how Juliet has changed. Her monologue before she drinks the potion is a good example (IV, iii).
Experience has taught her that she can't depend on her mother or her Nurse, and she wonders if she can trust Friar Lawrence. The future no longer seems rosy to her: she can envision insanity and death. Her understanding of the world and of evil is much fuller now, and experience has made it that way.
13. Again, you'll want to describe Romeo as he was at the beginning of the play, as he grows up, and as he is at the end of the play.
Three of the best indications of Romeo's growth are: his use of language, his ability to act, and the honesty of his feelings. Let's follow these through the play, and see what changes them.
At the beginning of the play, Romeo is mooning for Rosaline. His speech is simple and full of cliches, he shuts himself in his room and doesn't do anything, and from his talk we can tell that his feelings aren't deep.
Then he meets Juliet and all of that changes. This time his feelings are true and because of this, his language becomes mature and poetic. He's able to act: he professes his love, and plans their marriage. But this new maturity doesn't last.
When he kills Tybalt, he realizes that he's given in to hate, and that he might have lost Juliet. He sobs like a child. Again, his language is simple, and again he refuses to act. But word that Juliet still loves him and his wedding-night with her makes him more mature than ever. For the rest of the play, his language is full and honest; he never fails to act as he's planned to, and he's true to his feelings. For more specifics, look at the character section on Romeo in this book.
14. The Prince is the head of government in Verona, and that's what he represents: law and order. He comes in three times: in the beginning, at the climax, and at the end of the play. The first time he explains the situation, the second time he emphasizes how serious the feud has become, and the third time he states heaven's judgment on the families. For more notes, see the character section on Prince Escalus in this book.
15. We find out what the Nurse and Mercutio think about love by what they say. Twice in her first scene (I, iii), the Nurse turns the discussion of love and marriage to sex (lines 95 and 106). She sees the world in physical terms: to her, Juliet's greatest asset is her money (I, v, 119).
Mercutio also has nothing but disdain for romance. He mercilessly makes fun of Romeo for being in love (I, iv and II, i). Instead of talking about emotional love, he fills his speech with sexual references (II, iv, 118-19, for instance).
Both Romeo and Juliet add emotional and spiritual aspects to their love, as well as sexual passion. We see this as much by their actions as by what they say. Not only do they swear to be constant to each other emotionally and physically, they act on this promise. Juliet would rather die than be unfaithful to Romeo. We watch her give her loyalty completely to him rather than to her parents (III, ii, 121-24). Her nurse cannot understand these emotions at all.
Romeo, for his part, considers life without Juliet the same as death (III, iii, 10-51). When he finds that Juliet is "dead," his commitment to her is much stronger than his commitment to the world, and he kills himself.