Romeo is More to Blame in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet


The two teenagers portray young lovers who are unable to overcome fate despite their best efforts. William Shakespeare’s tragic romance Romeo and Juliet is a story about a pair of star-crossed lovers, both from opposing families, who take their lives in honor of their love. Romeo and Juliet, both young and naive, are blinded by their love for one another and fail to think of the consequences of their actions. Romeo plays a tremendous role in the death of Juliet and himself due to his irrational decisions, clouded judgment, and reckless actions. 

When we choose to put our desires before our well-being, someone gets hurt. Romeo Montague’s selfish and irrational decisions drove both Juliet and himself to their death. When Benvolio and Mercutio approached Romeo to persuade him to attend the Capulet masquerade party, Romeo replies with:

“I fear too early, for my mind misgives/Some consequences yet hanging in the stars/Shall bitterly begin his fearful date/With this night revels, and expire the term/Of a despised life closed in my breast/By some vile forfeit of untimely death. . .” (1.4.106-111).

Romeo was hesitant about attending the party at first, but as Benvolio and Mercutio persuaded him, he decided to go. Although he knew deep down something bad was going to happen, something that will end with his own death, he ignored it anyway. When he arrived at the party, Romeo laid his eyes on Juliet, it was love at first sight. He solemnly fell in love with her based on her appearance and not her personality. He later realized that Juliet was the daughter of Capulet, his family’s rival. Withholding this information, he still pursued Juliet well aware of the consequences he was going to face. His selfish irrational decisions began the downfall of Juliet and himself because of his own desires. He does not think about Juliet’s well-being nor himself because of his selfish needs. In addition to his unreasonable actions, he angered Tybalt which caused problems further throughout the story.

Normally, before we act out, we should always think of our actions and the consequences that come along. The prominent reason for their untimely death was Romeo’s clouded judgment. After Tybalt had slain Mercutio, Romeo says:

“Again, in triumph, and Mercutio slain?/Away to heaven, respective lenity,/And fire-ey’d fury be my conduct now!/Now, Tybalt, take the ‘villain’ back again/That late thou gavest me, for Mercutio’s soul/Is but a little way above our heads,/Staying for thine to keep him company:/Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.” (3.1.118-125). 

He challenges Tybalt to a duel to avenge Mercutio’s death without thinking of the possible outcomes. “O, I am a fortune’s fool.”  (3.1.132). He said after he had realized the mess he had just caused, he killed Tybalt. Romeo quickly fled to Friar Lawrence’s cell where he later received the news of his punishment. He was exiled from Verona as demanded as justice for Tybalt from Lady Capulet. As a consequence of his exile, he was unable to see Juliet once again. Romeo immediately regrets his actions as he should have held in his anger. Instead, Romeo had acted out irrationally, clouding his judgment without thinking of the outcomes. Yet again, he failed to think about Juliet and her well-being. Furthermore, Friar Lawrence came up with a ridiculous plan so that Juliet and Romeo may reunite which caused the death of the two young lovers. 

When we do not justify our decisions, consequences follow whether they are good or bad. 

Romeo fails to justify his answers through reckless actions contributing to both his and Juliet’s death. As Romeo approaches the Capulet tomb he says, “Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death,/Gorg’d with the dearest morsel of the earth,/Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open/And in despite I’ll cram thee with more food.” (5.3.45-48). He hastily tries to get into the tomb without rationalizing his decisions. As he enters the tomb, he came across Juliet’s body and says:

“Shall I believe/That unsubstantial/Death is amorous,/And that the lean abhorred monster keeps/Thee here in dark to be his paramour?/For fear of that, I still will stay with thee,/And never from this palace of dim night/Depart again. Here, here will I remain/With worms that are thy chambermaids;/O here/Will I set up my everlasting rest,/And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars/From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace! And, lips,/O you/The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss. . .” (5.3.102-112). 

Romeo panicked looking at Juliet,  he was unable to overcome the fact that the love of his life was dead. So without a second thought, Romeo kisses Juliet and decides to take out his poison vial to drink it. He lays lifelessly next to his soon-to-be conscious lover. Juliet then wakes up moments later next to Romeo’s body in shock. She immediately takes his dagger and stabs herself ending their love story in a tragic double suicide. If Romeo had held in his anger and grief, maybe things could have ended differently, they would have had a chance to be alive together. He acted out for what he thought was in his best interest, he immediately bought the poison and did not hesitate to drink the poison. If Romeo had not been so reckless with his plan, he could have reevaluated which would not have resulted in their untimely death.

Therefore, Romeo is not only weak, immature, or impulsive but he is responsible for the death of himself and his own lover. He is blameworthy because of his unreasonable decisions, indecisiveness, and thoughtless actions. He attended the Capulet party, well knowing that something bad will result from it, he slew Tybalt without thinking ahead due to his clouded judgment, and his untimely death because he refused to rationalize his decisions. It is no wonder that Romeo’s impulsive decisions finally caught up with him. As in the beginning, he predicted his own death. 

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