The Student Room Group

Mark my lit essay

Question: How does Shakespeare present the inevitability of fate in Romeo and Juliet?
GCSE ENGLISH LITERATURE AQA ROMEO AND JULIET
Answer: Shakespeare presents the idea of the inevitability of fate throughout Romeo and Juliet. Firstly, the prologue describes Romeo and Juliet as “fatal loins” which suggests that the children of the Montague and Capulet households were destined to die, in order to bring the families together and end the everlasting family feud. The adjective “fatal” has connotations of death, which further emphasises the idea that Romeo and Juliet committing suicide could not have been avoided, in order to solve the constant deaths and violence the feud was bringing to Verona. This evokes the reader to understand how idiotic the feud was, seeing as nobody could even remember the root cause of it, and how it as well as fate did not allow two young lovers to spend their lives together. During Shakespeare’s time, the idea of fate heavily influenced the lives of the Elizabethan people. For example, they believed that the stars or the alignment of planets determined what would happen in their lives and that it was decided before you were born, and nothing could change it.

Secondly, the inevitability of fate is demonstrated when Romeo and Benvolio are asked by a Capulet servant to read the guest list. This guest list is for the Capulet’s ball, where Romeo will meet Juliet for the first time. Romeo only wants to go to the ball at this point in time to see the “fair Rosaline”, which illustrates how Romeo is quite immature and doesn’t understand true love. The adjective “fair” is referring to Rosaline’s beauty, which explains how men at this point only loved women for their appearances. This evokes the reader to feel that Romeo and Juliet were destined to meet, and everything that had happened before this event was so that they met and fell in love with each other. Romeo’s love for Rosaline clearly demonstrates the idea of courtly love, the idea of when a man tries to win over a woman perhaps by writing her sonnets or admiring her from afar.

Lastly, the inevitability of fate is presented when Romeo is going to drink the poison and kill himself to be with Juliet. His dying words are that he wants to “shake the yolk of inauspicious stars”, which suggests that Romeo knows that his love for Juliet was doomed from the start, and now all he wants to do is kill himself so he can be free from his fate and be with the love of his life. The mentioning of the noun “stars” is said to remind the audience of how he and Juliet are star-crossed lovers, their love is forbidden, and they can never be together. This evokes the reader to feel sympathy for the pair as they both clearly love each other, but because of their families they will not have a happy life with each other. The fact that Romeo and Juliet killed themselves to be with each other would’ve shocked the Elizabethan audience, seeing as Europe was Christian at the time. In Christianity, to take your own life is seen as a major sin.
Wasn't sure what exam board you are on, and can't 'mark' it but I've broken down the essay with some points that will hopefully be helpul!

Shakespeare presents the idea of the inevitability of fate throughout Romeo and Juliet. - this doesn't set up your essay! your first line should set out what it is about Shakespeares presentation of fate that you are going to talk about

Firstly, the prologue - you could consider that as the prologue pretty much tells you what is going to happen, it is not so much fate as it is dramatic irony

“fatal loins” which suggests that the children of the Montague and Capulet households were destined to die, in order to bring the families together and end the everlasting family feud. - this doesn't exactly work, although fatal suggests something doomed, the connection to the households is rather tenuous. You need to expand on this, maybe explain that as this is presented in the prologue alongside the main premise of the Play, the audience may be led to draw a connection between the idea of a decaying body and the body of the home (ie Montagues and Capulets)
- Keep asking yourself why and continuously tie yourself to the question - (eg. why could fatal loins suggest a destined death, and why would shakespeare do this, and how is this in keeping with the inevitability of fate)

in order to solve the constant deaths and violence the feud was bringing to Verona - not entirely sure where you are going with this? - this is a whole other point, this could suggest that it is not fate, but it is the feud and the actions of the families that is causing this disruption (WOULD BE A GOOD COUNTER ARGUMENT)

This evokes the reader to understand - Not sure this completely make sense, check the grammar over a bit, and if your using words your unsure about leave them out. Your examiners will want to see a good knowledge of the text and understanding of methods!!
- you could say, "this evokes the understanding..."

how idiotic the feud was - This is quite a casual word and strays from the formality of an exam, also you are discussing a point that you have not quite developed yet!

seeing as nobody could even remember the root cause of it, and how it as well as fate did not allow two young lovers to spend their lives together. - This again is quite muddled!

During Shakespeare’s time, the idea of fate heavily influenced the lives of the Elizabethan people. For example, they believed that the stars or the alignment of planets determined what would happen in their lives and that it was decided before you were born, and nothing could change it. - THIS IS A FAB POINT, DEVELOP IT!!!
- If this is what was going on at the time, tie it in! You can add a quick sentence to summarise, "Given the context that Shakespeare was writing in, it would be unsurprising that society influenced his writing. This could strengthen the notion that the inevitability of fate is something ever present within Shakespeares 'Romeo and Juliet'"

Secondly, the inevitability of fate is demonstrated when Romeo and Benvolio are asked by a Capulet servant to read the guest list. - This is good, shows a great knowledge of the text that your examiners will love!

“fair Rosaline”, which illustrates how Romeo is quite immature and doesn’t understand true love. - HOW??

which explains how men at this point only loved women for their appearances. - might need a different word here, probabaly 'relates to', and 'a this point' again isn't very clear, i think you need to reference Shakespears time!

everything that had happened before this event was so that they met and fell in love with each other - DEVELOP!
- Why could this be fate! - eg. Romeo does not show intention, infact he is going to see another woman, however it was on this night that he met Juliet.

Romeo’s love for Rosaline clearly demonstrates the idea of courtly love, the idea of when a man tries to win over a woman perhaps by writing her sonnets or admiring her from afar. - Excellent contextual knowledge! - But again make the obvious links!! - 'Courtly Love was a conception of love that dated back to before Shakespeares time, and something that monopolised society. This would mean that Shakespeare could have been influenced by this perception of romance'

which suggests that Romeo knows that his love for Juliet was doomed from the start - HOW!!

- You making amazing points, but you need the backing of context or other quotes, you need to support these fab ideas!!
- Delve into your chosen quotes, you don't necessarily need to add more, but explain how this could show Romeo believed he was doomed
- The mentioning of the noun “stars” is said to remind the audience of how he and Juliet are star-crossed lovers, their love is forbidden, and they can never be together. - Ahhhh I think this is your explaination, you've kind of writtten this point backwards - you need to develop before you summarise!

This evokes the reader to feel sympathy for the pair as they both clearly love each other - NEW WORD!!

The fact that Romeo and Juliet killed themselves to be with each other would’ve shocked the Elizabethan audience, seeing as Europe was Christian at the time. In Christianity, to take your own life is seen as a major sin. - Great context, but this is not a concluding sentence!!

Well, I hope that this breakdown of your essay was somewhat usefull to you!!
A few points, you have great ideas (don't doubt that), you just need some confidence to back them up by developing them, so you can truly smash the essay. Your use of context will wow your examiners, but you need to directly link them to the question, if it was like that at the time, then explain that it was more than likely that Shakespeare would have taken note and been influenced! If there is the idea of courtly love, which is medieval idea but still hanging around, then its probably very popular with the literary crowd, and Shakespeare is probably using it!!

Overall, I think its a good essay, good use of context, quotes, and textual knowledge. You just need to sew it all together by linking things, and having confidence in your ideas to develop them!

Hoping this was helpful and can be used to aid your future essay writing! Good Luck :smile:

Quick Reply