Historical Events and Their Effect on Romeo and Juliet
There are many historical events around and before Shakespeare’s time had an effect or influenced the writing of the play. While many things were going on in not only England but in Italy as well, Romeo and Juliet was written. There could be thousands of things that had an influence on the story, but three stick out. The plot and characters were affected by the bubonic plague, the study of astrology, and the history of violence in Verona.
In 1348, the bubonic plague swept through Europe, killing about one third of the population in Italy. It comes up multiple times in Romeo and Juliet, one example being that it was a big reason families would marry off their younger daughters, including the Capulets, before the plague could kill them. Another example was when Mercutio was stabbed by Tybalt. Just before he died, he cursed both the Montagues and the Capulets for fighting, saying “a plague o’ both your houses!” in Scene I of Act III. The last major effect the plague had on the plot was when Friar Lawrence sent a letter to Romeo explaining Juliet’s fake death and his plan via Friar John. On his way to Romeo, Friar John had to be quarantined after meeting with people who were infected with the plague. This meant that the letter never got to Romeo, who instead heard the inaccurate news of Juliet’s death through someone else, which ultimately led to his and Juliet’s death.
In the 1300s, people believed that the positions of stars and planets affected their lives. This was also known as fate. Fate has a constant presence throughout Romeo and Juliet. Before Romeo enters the party with Benvolio and Mercutio, he tells them he feels that by attending, it will eventually lead to his death. Later on, when Mercutio and Tybalt die because of Romeo, he claims that he is at the unfortunate whim of fate because he met Juliet. The last example is after Romeo finds out about Juliet’s “death” and says...