Romeo and Juliet

who is it to blame for the the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

Act 5.

Scene 3

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The events of Act 5 do not provide a clear answer to the question of whether Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy of fate. Instead, one could continue to argue that the tragic ending is the result of individual decisions - most notably, Friar Laurence's complicated plan. The success of this plan is highly contingent on timing and circumstance. What if Friar John had not been waylaid? What if Romeo had arrived at the Capulet tomb two hours later, or if Friar Laurence had arrived one hour earlier? Fate is not typically so contingent on human actions, which suggests that the most powerful force at work in Romeo and Juliet is actually the psychology of the characters. The uncertainty in these final scenes makes the play less classically tragic and yet more unique for not being fully aligned any one form.

Friar Laurence continues to advocate for moderation in the final scenes of Romeo and Juliet. Many scholars believe that Shakespeare meant for his audience to take away the message that a lack of moderation is the reason for Romeo and Juliet's demise. Some believe that Romeo and Juliet acted too quickly and intensely on their youthful passion, and allowed it to consume them. However, this moral reading feels like an oversimplification, and ignores the complexities of their love. Instead, the idea of caution is arguably more applicable to Romeo and Juliet's families, who have allowed their feud to get out of control.

Shakespeare also uses the recurring motif of gold and silver to criticize the childishness of the feuding adults. Gold continues to represent wealth and jealousy, the vices that keep Romeo and Juliet apart. When Romeo pays the Apothecary in gold, he remarks, "There is thy gold - worse poison to men's souls" (5.1.79). Gold, as a symbol, underlies the family feuding. Even after Romeo and Juliet are dead and their families supposedly agree to peace, they still try to outdo one another by creating commemorative gold statues. Romeo recognizes the power of gold and yet repudiates it, allowing Shakespeare to create a distinction between the kinds of people who value money and those who value true love.