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Why are Romeo and Juliet called "star-crossed lovers"?

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Quick Answer

Romeo and Juliet are called "star-crossed lovers" because their relationship is destined to end in tragedy. No matter what actions Romeo and Juliet take to overcome the divide between their warring families, they are fated to fail and suffer unpleasant consequences. This popular concept first appeared in William Shakespeare's play "The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet," in which the lovers die after a series of ironic miscommunications.

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Why are Romeo and Juliet called "star-crossed lovers"?
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Full Answer

Despite passionate affection, the fates of tragic lovers are "written in the stars," or predetermined by some divine force. In the play, Romeo and Juliet are from the rival Montague and Capulet families, who frequently engage in public conflicts. Juliet's parents hope to wed her to a suitor named Paris, but Juliet and Romeo fall in love shortly after meeting at a feast. When the young lovers decide to marry, they plot with Juliet's nurse and Friar Lawrence to perform the ceremony in secret.

Romeo is exiled after members of both families are killed in an untimely duel. Friar Lawrence tries to help the lovers by faking Juliet's death using a potion. Romeo fails to receive the letter informing him of the ruse and commits suicide by drinking poison. When Juliet finally awakes and finds her new husband dead, she takes her own life with a dagger. Signs of the lovers' unfortunate fate appear throughout the play, such as Romeo's dream of his own death. However, the characters continually behave in ways that bring about their own demise and prevent Romeo and Juliet from fulfilling their love.

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