Romeo and Juliet

Whose fault is it?

ROMEO’S ROLE IN THE TRAGEDY OF ROMEO AND JULIET

While many characters played a role in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is most at fault for the problems that happened. Romeo makes poor decisions, acts impulsively and cannot control his temper. Romeo’s impulsive choices caused a chain of events resulting in tragedy. He is most at fault for these problems.

ROMEO’S POOR DECISION-MAKING ABILITY LEADS TO TRAGEDY

Romeo lacks good decision-making abilities. He bases many of his decision on his emotions and not logic. These decisions put him at fault for many of the play’s problems. When we meet Romeo, he is up in his room totally depressed because Rosaline does not love him. As Romeo explains, “She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow / Do I live dead that live to tell it now” (1.1.214-15). Romeo refuses to do anything other than mope around. To help cheer him up, his friend suggests that they attend a masquerade party and look for other beautiful women. The problem is that the party is being thrown by their enemy. Knowing that Rosaline is on the guest list, Romeo follows his desire to see her and agrees to attend. Had Romeo rationally considered the consequences of attending his rival’s party, he probably would not have gone. By following his emotions instead of logic, he is responsible for starting a chain of events resulting in tragedy.


At the masquerade party, Romeo acts without logic when he spontaneously decides that he is in love with Juliet. Upon seeing Juliet, Romeo declares, “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! / For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night” (1.5.50-51). Instantaneously, Romeo’s broken heart over Rosaline is filled with love for Juliet. It is his overwhelming love for Juliet that causes Romeo to make choice resulting in many of the play’s problems.

ROMEO’S IMPULSIVE NATURE LEADS TO TRAGEDY

In addition to following his heart, Romeo also acts impulsively throughout the play, thereby causing many of the play’s problems. An example of this is when Romeo asks Friar Laurence to quickly marry him and Juliet. Shakespeare writes, “I'll tell thee as we pass; but this I pray, / That thou consent to marry us today” (2.3.64-65). Rather than wait for parental permission (which was the custom), Romeo urges Friar to marry them immediately. Romeo knows that he will never get parental consent for marriage. Rather than try and speak with Juliet’s family rationally, Romeo chooses to quickly marry her in secret. Had Romeo waited to marry his love after speaking rationally with her parents, many of the tragedies in this play could have been avoided.


Even Friar Laurence warns Romeo of his impulsive nature: “Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast" (2.3.94). Romeo should have listened to the Friar because Romeo’s impulsive nature leads to further tragedy when Romeo hears that Juliet is dead. Romeo’s immediate reaction is to return to his dead lover so that he can kill himself in her tomb. He does not question her death or the circumstances of her dying. Instead, he buys poison and drinks it saying, “Here’s to my love! / [Drinks.] O true apothecary. / Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die” (5.3.129-131). Again, Romeo makes a rash decision and acts impulsively without thinking of the consequences. Had Romeo been more patient and rational, the outcome of this play would have been different. Romeo’s pattern of impulsive decision-making played a significant role this play’s tragedy.

ROMEO’S TEMPER LEADS TO TRAGEDY

While Romeo is not a violent person, his inability to control his temper is also at fault for many of the problems in the play. An example of this is when Romeo retaliates and kills Tybalt out of grief and revenge. Tybalt doesn't like Romeo and tries to get Romeo to fight saying, “Therefore turn and draw” (3.1.38). Romeo does not want to fight, but his friend Mercutio does. Romeo tries to stop their fight, telling Mercutio “Gentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up” (3.1.50). Romeo goes so far as to step between the two men whose swords are drawn. Romeo’s actions show that he is not a violent person. Then, Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm. Upon hearing of his friend’s death, Romeo says “Away to heaven, respective lenity, / And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now” (3.1.85-86). With these words, Romeo says that rage will now guide his actions. Romeo is consumed with anger and seeks revenge. He kills Tybalt. It isn't until Tybalt is dead that Romeo realizes how his temper wrecked his future saying, “Oh, I am fortune’s fool!” (3.1.98). Romeo’s anger and hot-headedness resulted in Tybalt’s death and Romeo’s banishment from Verona. This in turn, causes problems for Juliet.


Again, we see Romeo lose his temper when he sees Paris at Juliet’s tomb. Romeo warns Paris, “Good gentle youth, tempt not a desperate man; / ….Put not another sin upon my head, / By urging me to fury: O, be gone!” (5.3.67, 70-71). Romeo is aware that he is likely to lose his temper, so he warns Paris to run away. Paris refuses Romeo’s warning. The two men fight, and Romeo kills Paris. Again, Romeo’s temper is at fault for another man’s death.

COUNTER ARGUMENT

Some may argue that Friar Laurence is really to blame for the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. This is not correct. Friar Laurence generally tried to the right thing. For example, Romeo and Juliet convinced the Friar to marry them, and he believed that their marriage would end the family feud. As he explained, “For this alliance may so happy prove, / To turn your households’ rancor to pure love” (2.3.91-92). He married the lovers to unite a city and end a feud. Little did he know the feud would not end until their deaths.


While it is true that Friar Laurence had a big impact on the outcome of the play, he is not responsible for the death of any characters. Friar Laurence gave Juliet the sleeping potion, but it was Juliet who chose to drink it. The Friar never wanted Romeo or Juliet to die. In fact, he tried to notify Romeo of his plan to reunite the lovers. It is not the Friar’s fault that his notice never reached Romeo. Upon seeing the sleeping Juliet, Romeo impulsively and irrationally chose to kill himself. The Friar did not actively kill anyone. And, he even took steps to avoid Romeo coming to the wrong conclusion. On the other hand, Romeo actively killed three people in this story: Tybalt, Paris and himself. Romeo is much more at fault for the problems that happened in this play than Friar Laurence.

Summary

Romeo chose to attend his rival’s party. Romeo chose to fall in love with Juliet. Romeo convinced Friar Laurence to marry him and Juliet. And, Romeo murdered two people, then he killed himself. Romeo is most at fault for the problems that happened in this play. If Romeo had made better decisions and been more patient and calm, many of the problems in this play would not have occurred.