Romeo and Juliet Themes & Symbolism

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Critics and readers have proposed three main ways to interpret Shakespeare's arrangement of the events and circumstances in Romeo and Juliet.

(The deliberate construction of the play so that its action seems to lead inevitably to the "catastrophe" of the young lovers' deaths, is known as Shakespeare's "tragic design.") One method is to regard Romeo and Juliet as helpless victims of the arbitrary operation of fate. Numerous tricks of chance in the play support this theory; for example, Romeo's failed attempt to stop the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt and Friar John's inability to leave Verona due to the plague. References to "fortune" and the "stars" throughout the play, particularly the description of Romeo and Juliet in the Prologue to Act I as "star-crossed lovers," also uphold this argument. This emphasis on fortune as a guiding force that determines one's destiny was probably not lost on Elizabethan audiences...

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This section contains 1,082 words
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Buy the Romeo and Juliet Study Guide
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Romeo and Juliet from Shakespeare for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.