One of the most important issues in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is that of choice. Do the characters have the ability to choose what they want to do or are they simply destined to participate in death and destruction? There is ample evidence of both fate and free will in the play and the presence of both greatly affects the interpretation of the plot and the characters.
Fate, in the play, seems insurmountable. This underlying force in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet controls the lovers' lives and destiny. The feud, on the other hand, is a more obvious and transparent obstacle for the two lovers to overcome. This feud wreaks havoc and causes death and destruction throughout the play.
The environment and time in history both place great difficulty and pressure upon the continuation of Romeo and Juliet's relationship. The feud between their families, the Montagues and Capulets, has been handed down to generations -"From ancient grudge break to new mutiny..."
This vendetta is not considered a petty one. In fact, the families involved take it very seriously. Even at the slightest hint of disrespect, a bloody brawl in the streets is the result -"...quench the fire of your pernicious rage with purple fountains issuing from your veins!" Not once throughout the play does the audience witness any form of verbal resolution between the two families, despite the efforts of the Prince. Indeed, even at the end of the play, when the families finally call a truce, it is only after the most tragic outcome. The courting of Romeo and Juliet is dangerous because every conflict between heir families is resolved with violence. Both of their lives are immediately at stake. When Romeo scales the walls of the Capulet house, Juliet says: "If they do see thee,