In Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, the two lovers die a tragic death, and bring several others down with them.  As Esculus puts it  , “For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo” 5.3.319.   What caused this to happen?  Was it fate, with no way to stop it?  Or could it have been avoided?  The fault must be placed on society.  Society deemed it unacceptable for the two lovers to be together, which forced them into secrecy, leading them to their deaths.  Three main factors in society led to the deaths, these factors are, the families of the lovers, the values of society, and authority, these groups are all to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

            The first group that had a role in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet was the families of the two lovers, the Capulets and the Montogues.  The families are the root of the problem that plagued the romance.  If they had simply gotten along, there would be nothing remarkable about the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, and they could have lived happily ever after.  Instead of letting things unfold this way, the two families upheld an ancient grudge, barring the romance.  “ Let him alone… it is my will… show a fair presence.” 1.5.75.  This grudge ran so deep that even when Capulet attempted to prevent a fight, he was only able to delay the fight to a later time.  “Though art a villain, there forth, turn and draw” 3.1.65.   By abhorring each other, the two families only managed to push their children to an early death.

            In the period that Romeo and Juliet took place; society had strict moral and ethical standards, which hindered the lovers from achieving a happy marriage.  At the time, it was customary for girls to have their husband chosen for them by their father, as Capulet chooses Paris for Juliet.  “Of my child’s love, I think she will be ruled”. 3.4.10.  This becomes an obstacle set by society that Juliet must face.  Another boundary placed by society is the inability for Romeo and Juliet to get divorced after their hasty decision, which also plays into Juliet being unable to marry Paris, even if she wanted to she couldn’t, as she is already married. ”He shall not make me there a joyful bride!” 3.5.120. It is society that deems it necessary for Juliet to do as her family says, and makes her unable to choose the life she wants.

            The final factor that leads to the deaths is that of authority. Authority figures are found throughout the book, and authority comes mainly in the forms of the Prince, and Capulete, who both hold the positions that most influence the life of the lovers.  Once again, Capulet must be blamed.  He is the one who held the most power over Juliet’s, life, thus he also held power over the relationship between her and Romeo.”  Get to church, or never look upon my face again”  3.5.150.  He used this power to oppress both of them, and made it impossible for them to have a relationship, he is still to blame even thought he might not have done all of this intentionally.  Other figures that influenced the actions of Juliet include the Nurse, Lady Capulet, and Esculus.  By not supporting her daughters wishes, Lady Capulet helped her husband to oppress Juliet.  Finally, Nurse is to blame because she simply went along with the plans, and didn’t do the right thing, and tell everyone before it got complicated.  It is these factors coming from authority that lead the lovers to death.

            The deaths of Romeo and Juliet are caused by a reason, but this reason is not predetermination.  It might have been impossible at the time to prevent the deaths, but it is clear that it was only human error that made the deaths impossible to stop.  Because of this, it is the fault of characters who remain alive fault, and no outside forces should be made the scapegoat.