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As a result of this, the playwright made fate play a major role in his performance because his audience would be able to relate and compare themselves to the fact that Romeo and Juliet were ruled by fate and destiny — just as the audience themselves thought they were. Not only are there literary devices cleverly incorporated to convey fate, but the line also refers to the lives of his Elizabethan audience.

Although the prologues of his plays generally intended to reveal the story, they should still be considered as containing heavy foreboding. This specific line surpasses the strength of the other multiple forewarning lines he used in this prologue. They believed that their lives and fate were predestined by astronomy; especially by the stars and planets. Many wealthy Englishmen would even visit and pay astrologers for horoscopes to tell them if the stars favored the important decision they were about to make.

Superstition, Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Day

The line also actually displays the conflict within the characters related to the storyline that link with their fate. As seen later throughout the story, Romeo and Juliet constantly find themselves being torn apart between pleasing and making their friends, family or their love happy. It manages to affect a lot of the decisions they make which end up of course affecting their relationship. Not far from the prologue, William Shakespeare makes another distinct reference to astrology and therefore destiny.

This quote located in Act 1 Scene 4 was spoken by Romeo who was trying to persuade his friends that sneaking into the Capulet party was not wise based on a dream he had in which he saw that their actions would subsequently lead to something bad. This specific literary device is one often used in poetry and helps to effectively convey the idea of fate throughout the Elizabethan period. The euphonical side to this line allows it to sound well to the ear when spoken by the actors and for this reason makes it more likely for it to stick in their minds, but also for it to appeal to them.

It can also be deduced that as it is a Capulet party — Romeo and Juliet have the likely chance of meeting which is the starting point to their relationship and key to their ultimate deaths. Also seeing as the prologue reveals that Romeo and Juliet both die; going to the party will ultimately lead to his death because he will almost certainly meet her there. As mentioned previously, the Elizabethans had close beliefs in predetermined fate.

It continues to build up throughout the play as Shakespeare skillfully continues to add more indications to the public life.

Romeo And Juliet Time Period — Elizabethan Era

All of the details concerning whether the three friends attend the party and their hesitations heavily enrich his representation of fate. It is the east, and Juliet is the sun! This line has a large link to fate because it discusses a planet to be specific the sun - that is not only the center and largest star of our solar system but is important symbolically in astronomy. The public back then relied on astronomical views, and the belief that the stars and planets especially were involved in the predetermination of their destinies. By calling Juliet his sun, Romeo is conveying just how important she is to him, like theological determinism to the Elizabethans, and that she is part of or is his fate and that they are meant to be together.

Although calling Juliet his sun is a positive metaphor a deeper meaning can be interpreted nowadays; that the galaxy including the sun could be gone in a matter of hours or a matter of millenniums therefore it will never be there for eternity just like their love could last for a while or crumble quite fast. This also hints at their love being short-lasting which does in the end in fact happen to be their fortune. However, the people of the 16 th century were not aware of this and had different views then we have now on the matter therefore Shakespeare did in fact metaphorically mean to say that their love is eternal.

He is complimenting her appearance and conveying her importance to him. The sun and moon can be perceived as symbols of light and darkness both of which are two very contrasting notions that represent antithesis as Romeo is asking for Juliet to bring herself, his light, and block out the darkness around and to be the light in his life. It is a likely and possible implication that he does not want to be separated from her and wants her there with him for the rest of his journey through life to continue being his sun and light. Shakespeare creates a lovely contrasting set of lines that refer to the solar opposites of the sun and moon and light and dark, all undeniably significant cosmological concepts, that both include a metaphor personification, and antithesis.

These set of heavily meaningful yet poetic lines blend the literary devices, and astrological antithesis together to produce magnificent language and in depth interpretations all to do with destiny. After the iconic balcony scene Romeo does not meet another Capulet other than Juliet until Act 3, Scene 1 when Romeo refuses to fight Tybalt and so Mercutio takes his place falling to his death. Also, Romeo does not want to believe that his feelings have brought him to commit a murder and on top of it all kill a relative of his precious Juliet.


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This mixture of feelings and emotions he finds himself in after his actions, make him attempt to rid himself of the blame and reassure himself that the actions were not his. The issue with this is that he is not reassuring himself that it was not him that did it and that it was fate; he is downright fooling himself and just trying to throw this massive consequential load off his back.

Shakespeare knew that if he made Romeo blame the situation on fate, that it would not only be a natural step and easy rid of the blame for the upset Romeo to do, but his Elizabethan audience would agree that it indeed was fate and everything that happened was preordained and meant to be.

They would agree due to their beliefs in theological determinism and their immense dependence on fate and destiny. Due to their beliefs in fatalism many would agree with Romeo and his thoughts would appeal to them. This at the same time links to fate because that emotional turmoil is as mentioned previously blamed on theological determinism. The clever choice to make this symbolic dialogue an illustration of alliteration was indeed a good one because it adds some euphony therefore gives it a ring when said aloud.

There were and still are plenty of word alternatives that the author could have selected to use; but he chose to make this crucial scene and moment in the plot truly special.


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  • Understanding Astrology in the Elizabethan Era.

The combination of alliteration and oxymoron stand out amongst several others in sound, but also in the buildup and effective impact Shakespeare was aiming at his audience to try and make the story seem arranged and ruled by exactly the same as what their lives are; fortune.

These techniques are used to increase this effect as they are a more perceptible and poetically appealing way to link his talents and the ongoing relevant theme. The friar means by this, that something bigger and more powerful than they can imagine had foiled their plans. The friar had come up with a smart but risky plan to get Romeo and Juliet together but he had never intended for the messenger to not reach Romeo — or in this unlikely case for Romeo to return and commit suicide!

Matters got out of hand very quickly and went down one of the darkest paths possible which is why the friar referred to what caused it all as bigger and more powerful that can be imagined because of the catastrophe the situation turned out to be! The people watching already know about everything that has happened whilst Juliet was unconscious and so as she is about to discover this herself, Shakespeare has to build the suspense using the dramatic irony and the right terminology that leads to how Juliet reacts when she discovers her losses. The choice of diction allows this specific line to have this effect on people and encourages people to notice this constant motif throughout the play hinting at a disaster to occur.

After several scenes of repeated forewarnings it is finally brought together after the dramatic build up into one major calamity of events and consequences. The fateful story of two lovers who were never meant to fall for each other, and thus shared a world-famous forbidden love written by the well-known William Shakespeare displays the constant theme of fate, that helped bring it to its current fame. A wide diversity of language, and the inclusion of the very popular belief in theological determinism of the era helped the playwright to portray fate far more effectively and easily, but also allowed him to write with the style in which he truly excelled — poetry.

For instance the metaphors and personification of the balcony scene, or the forewarnings in the prologue all effectively contribute to the exquisite poetry and ongoing theme of destiny. For this reason, he made sure to make fate one of his most prevalent themes in the story as he saw each day just how much the notion managed to control his fellow citizens. Not only was he choosing a dominant theme that was so relevant, but it also gave the public an opportunity to relate with the characters; especially Romeo and Juliet themselves as they struggle to maintain their relationship amongst the surrounding family feud, and at the same time deal with their conflicting inner selves.

The Elizabethan commoners could see themselves in their shoes, being ruled over by their predetermined fate as they watched the lives of the couple play out in front of them only increasing their liking in the performance, but also personal feelings and interest. Although they might have found it hard to imagine themselves committing suicide due to a large-scale misunderstanding they still understood how that misunderstanding and crescendo downfall occurred and though odd, Romeo and Juliet were meant to end this way. Their ends managed to impact their families and brought their multiple decade long strife to an end and realize their foolishness.

The Elizabethan audience could only wonder, if all of what happened would have been different if astrology or religion had no impact on their lives? If the couple's fate had not been predetermined and if they had not been getting constantly torn apart between pleasing their friends and family- their doleful ends may not have been so fatal after all.

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A Changing View of the Universe: Philosophy and Science in the Elizabethan Era

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Elizabethan Beliefs

Star Wars Uncharted 6: End of the Empire. I Stastny. Drag a picture from your file manager into this box, or click to select. Insert Cancel. In the same manner as the physical world was geocentric, the mental world was theocentric: it had God at the centre, or at the top of the pyramid.

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Shakespeare and the stars

It was an extremely well ordered world in which everything was classified and assigned by God himself a particular place on a huge, hierarchically ordered ladder of importance, also referred to as the Great Chain of Being. A crude representation of the Chain of Being would be something like this imagine a ladder with each line representing a rung of the ladder :. Each rung on the ladder represents a category which can in turn be subdivided with the most important element at the top, and the least important at the bottom. The most important element was called the primate: among humans, the primate is the king, among animals the lion, among trees the oak, among flowers the rose, and so forth.

Position in the chain was defined by intellect, mobility and capability: the more the merrier, so to speak -- and being high in the chain meant natural or God-given authority to rule over those being low. The important thing to understand about this is the hierarchical system, and the fact that each single element, i. As long as all elements remain in place, the hierarchy is intact, and order rules.

If, however, an element attempts to progress to a better place, i. So, in the Chain of Being, everything and everybody must stay in place; otherwise the Chain is broken, order is disturbed, and chaos is imminent. I n this great Chain of Being, all systems are alike and reflect each other in structure. This correlation between levels is reflected in the notion of macrocosm and microcosm: that the lower levels mirror — on a smaller scale — the upper levels. In other words, each link of the chain is a microcosm of the whole chain. Today, some will compare the structure of the atom to the structure of the solar system, or the workings of society to the workings of nature — both, basically.