Who was to blame for the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet? Two star-crossed lovers with a forbidden love and so many obstacles to overcome, but in the end it wasn’t enough. Was it the fault of the two families and their bitter feud, or perhaps the Friar and the Nurse, or was it all just destiny in the two young lover’s fate… From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life, Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife. (Prologue, 8-11)
Some people argue that it was the Nurse and Friar Laurence’s responsibility. They are after all the ones who encouraged the relationship to begin with, so technically the problem started with them. Friar Laurence, although sceptical about the union when Romeo first informs him of it, Is Rosaline, that thou didst love so dear, so soon forsaken? (II, 3, 70-71), quickly agrees to happily marry them, thinking that this might end the ongoing feud. For this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households’ fancour to pure love. II, 3, 98-99) The Nurse plays just as eminent a role as the Friar in the forbidden marriage of the couple, making all the arrangements in secret from the Capulet’s. She also changes her mind about Juliet and Romeo after he is banished from Verona, and then sides with Juliet’s parents, agreeing with them that she should marry Paris, only driving Juliet away even more so. I think it best you married with the County. O, he’s a lovely gentleman! Romeo’s a dishclout to him. (III, 5, 204-205)
Upon marrying them at the secret ceremony in his cell, Friar Laurence does advise them against unbridled passion which shows that he cared about the consequences of these actions about to be performed, however it also foretold the sense of doom of the situation which the Friar should have seen. These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, Which as they kiss consume. (II, 6, 8-11) The Friar’s actions in trying to help Romeo and Juliet was also wrong when he came up with the plan to fake Juliet’s death so that they could be together.
When Capulet, Juliet’s father, orders her to marry Count Paris within the week, she cannot bare the thought of it and needs to find a way to be with Romeo once more. And so seeks help from Friar Laurence, which is when he comes up with this genius yet lethal plan. Take thou this vial, being then in bed, And this distilling liquor drink thou off; When presently through all thy veins shall run A cold and drowsy humour. For no pulse Shall keep his native progress, but surcease. (IV, 1, 74-78) Despite all of these actions which ultimately ended in chaos, I don’t think that the Friar or the Nurse were to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.
On some level their actions did partake in what eventuated in the tragedy, but they came with the best intentions, with high hopes that they would be able to save a young couple’s love and end a bitter feud. Friar Laurence did bring the families together, but it was with death rather than marriage. O brother Montague, give me thy hand. (V, 3, 232) Tybalt could also be held accountable for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Tybalt’s nasty, hot-headed persona caused a lot of strife as he always started brawls and quarrelled with the Montagues.
When Tybalt gets in a fight with Mercutio, despite the Prince’s orders to avoid future brawls of any sort, Tybalt, Mercutio, the Prince expressly hath forbid this bandying in Verona streets. (III, 1, 76), Mercutio is slain by Tybalt, and with the death of his friend on Tybalt’s hands Romeo becomes infuriated with him and forgets all of his morals and only seeks vengeance. With his fury Romeo kills Tybalt, and when the Prince arrives at the scene he banishes Romeo from Verona, declaring a death sentence if he is to return. Therefore use none. Let Romeo hence in haste,
Else, when he is found, that hour is his last. (III, 1, 175-177) This whole debacle which leads to Romeo’s banishment puts even more distance and difficulty into the relationship between him and Juliet. The hatred between the families has grown stronger and Juliet can no longer see Romeo in Verona. All this because of Tybalt’s furious nature, which could not have been helped despite Romeo’s best efforts. The Prince of Verona causes problems leading to Romeo and Juliet’s death by exiling Romeo. Romeo cannot know of the Friar’s and Juliet’s plan, so he does not know that Juliet is really alive.
In my opinion it was unreasonable of the Prince to banish Romeo from Verona as a punishment for killing Mercutio when in actual fact it was Tybalt’s fault for starting the fight and killing Mercutio in the first place. The families feud however did have a large impact on the tragedy in my opinion. They were blinded by hatred and even when their two children fell madly in love, they didn’t have the sense to stop the feud and let them be together. Lord Capulet always ordered Juliet to do as told, including marrying Paris, a man whom she didn’t truly love and they knew it.
They should have paid more attention to Juliet’s wishes, as the Nurse says “You are to blame, my Lord, to rate her so. ” Their unreasonableness led Juliet to go to such lengths as to fake her own death to be with Romeo, and when Romeo thought she was actually dead he decided to kill himself rather than live without her. For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo. (V, 3, 245) It took numerous deaths throughout the families to end a pointless feud, which ultimately puts the deaths of Romeo and Juliet in their hands.