he term “star-crossed
lovers” was first introduced by the British author William Shakespeare in his
famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet published
in the year 1597. Shakespeare first
establishes the theme of destiny in the prologue of said work where he describes
the play as a tale of two “star-crossed lovers”.
The term “star-crossed lovers” refers to the idea that those involved will be
impacted in a negative way or that they are doomed by destiny and no one can
prevent this from happening. This idea comes from the pseudoscience of astrology
that studies the movement and position of celestial bodies and the belief that
they have an impact on one’s life. Throughout history this pseudoscience has
been present in many cultures and in the Elizabethan era, astrology had a huge
place in people’s life. Most people in this era believed in fate and that they
had no way to control the stars’ influence in their life and to what happened
refers to a couple that because of some unfortunate circumstance or an uncontrollable
and predetermined fate, is destined to failure. This term doesn’t always have a
negative connotation, it also refers to fate and how the character’s
unavoidably will cross their paths but due to the influence of Romeo and Juliet it usually refers to
tragic or unfortunate endings.
In this archetype the couple falls in love with each other and want to be
together but is separated by fate, their love and relationship is destined to
fail by external forces and adverse circumstances. “Star-crossed” is a phrase
that implies fate. The stars are against the couple from the very beginning, as
if their astrology condemned them. The circumstances that doom them and causes
the couple’s separation could be society, family, distance, time or another
This kind of
love has a series of traits that characterize it. It’s a love that’s destined;
it’s inevitable and determined beforehand by fate. It’s a love that’s transgressive;
it violates and breaks the law or moral code of the moment, so it’s forbidden
by society. This trait makes the couple lead their love in secrecy.
“Star-crossed lovers” feel a love so passionate and deep that neither of them had
ever felt anything similar before. They wish and dream of creating a world for
themselves far from their everyday reality. And “star-crossed” love is
sacrificed, a part of the couple, or both, sacrifice for what is seen as the
greater good for their partner and beloved.
Now that the meaning,
origin and characteristics of this archetype have been established, I’ll
explain how the couple of Romeo and Juliet fit into this archetype.