Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, follows the story of two young lovers that fell in love from the moment they laid eyes on each other. Romeo and Juliet’s families, the Montague and Capulets, had been in a continuous feud for several generations. This resulted in the two teenagers not being able to publicly express their love for each other. Not only was this feud restraining on their love, but it was dangerous in the sense that several characters had been killed. Romeo and Juliet secretly got married, but soon after, Lord Capulet put pressure on his daughter to marry another man, Paris. Juliet developed a plan with Friar Lawrence to fake her death and then run away with Romeo. Romeo was not informed of this aspect of the plan in which Juliet was faking her death, so he killed himself out of sorrow. He felt as though he could not live his life without her. When Juliet awoke, she saw Romeo dead, and stabbed herself so she could be with him. This tragedy led to the two families reflecting on the horrid impact they had made on their children. The ultimate cause of the death of the two young lovers was the fact that their families were in a feud and had not allowed them to be together. However, there were many decisions that impacted the overall fate of the two. Romeo’s choice to go to the Capulet’s costume party was the most critical decision that led to the development of the play. It would alter the future series of events that would take place.
Prior to going to the party, Romeo had been heartbroken by a girl named Rosaline. When a servant publicly encountered Romeo and his cousin Benvolio, he asked them to read the list of guests invited to his master’s costume party. Romeo saw Rosaline’s name on the list and immediately was desperate to get into the party. After Romeo had hinted that he would appreciate an invitation, the servant invited Romeo and Benvolio to come to the event. He did not know that they were part of the Montague family. Benvolio hoped to get his cousin’s mind off of Rosaline, and instead find him a new girl at the party. As the servant exited, Benvolio stated, “At this same ancient feast of Capulet’s. / Sups the fair Rosaline whom thou so loves, / With all the admired beauties of Verona. / Go thither, and with unattainted eye / Compare her face with some that I shall show, / And I will make thee think thy swan a crow.” (1.2. 89-94) In this quote, Benvolio discussed how many beautiful women would be at this feast. He was telling Romeo that the best thing he could do for himself would be to go to that party and keep his eyes open for another girl. Benvolio was clearly pushing him towards going to the event, which had an impact on Romeo’s decision making. Romeo responded to Benvolio, “Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars. / One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun / Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun.” (1.3.98-100) Romeo had become defensive and argued that there was not a more beautiful girl than Rosaline. The ultimate decision was shown in Romeo’s lines when he stated with passion, “I’ll go along, no such sight to be shown, / But to rejoice in splendor of mine own.” (1.3.107-108) He was expressing to his cousin that he would attend the party to see the woman he loved, not because he believed Benvolio would show him a better girl than Rosaline. Romeo felt as if he had something to prove. He wanted to show his cousin that his love for Rosaline was serious. Both Benvolio and Romeo’s reasoning for why he should go to the party was crucial when deciding the fate of the two young lovers and it was important to the development of the play.
The effects of Romeo’s decision began to play out when he encountered Juliet at the party. Romeo laid eyes on his future love and referred to how beautiful Juliet was when he stated, “Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear. / So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows / As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.” (1.5.54-56) He believed that her beauty outshined all other girls in the world. The costume party had a profound impact in shifting Romeo’s love from Rosaline to Juliet, for now he had fallen in love with Juliet. He then approached her and the two began talking flirtatiously. Romeo remarked, “Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take. / [He kisses her.] / Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged.” (1.5.120-121) In this scene, Romeo and Juliet shared their first kiss. This physical affection can be interpreted as one of the first moments in which their love developed. If Romeo had not made the decision to go to the party in the first place, he would not have encountered Juliet. In turn, they would never have kissed and fallen in love.
Despite the fact that Romeo was now aware of Juliet’s true identity as a Capulet, he went to find her the night of the party. He took the risk of visiting Juliet’s house, where he saw Juliet alone on her balcony. Romeo and Juliet talked and confirmed their love for one another which led them to form a plan to get married in secret. As the story progressed, their hopes of marriage quickly became problematic when Romeo received inaccurate information that Juliet was dead. This lack of knowledge would later contribute to the death of the two lovers because as Romeo interpreted Juliet’s death to be true, he killed himself, which led her to commit suicide as well. All of this chaos and reasoning for why they died can be traced back to one simple decision of Romeo’s, which was to go to the Capulet’s party. A ripple effect was created due to this decision. As mentioned previously, if it were not for Romeo’s decision to go to the party, then Romeo and Juliet would have never fallen in love with each other. Their love led to marriage which resulted in miscommunication, and later death. Although this decision was crucial for the development of the play, it was the reason why the two did not survive.
Overall, the most crucial decision that led to the development of the play was Romeo’s choice to go to the Capulet’s costume party. It impacted the events in the storyline that followed. Romeo chose to attend the party because he wanted to reconnect with his previous lover, Rosaline, but instead fell in love with Juliet. Through the series of events that took place, his decision eventually resulted in the demise of the star crossed lovers who tragically ended their lives out of love for one another.