Star-Crossed Lovers: Definition, Archetype & Role in Shakespeare

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  • 0:02 Definition and Archetypes
  • 0:58 Star-Crossed Lovers
  • 4:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

'Star-crossed lovers' is a term first coined by William Shakespeare in his popular play 'Romeo and Juliet.' When most people think of star-crossed lovers, they think of William Shakespeare. Learn more about the term and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition of Star-Crossed Lovers and Archetypes

Star-crossed lovers are two people who care deeply for each other; however, their love is doomed by the stars and they cannot be together. This couple is considered ill-fated. The term star-crossed lovers was first coined by William Shakespeare in the popular play The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

An archetype is the original form of a person or object; similar examples are created based on an archetype. Archetypes are expressed in dreams, literature, myths and fantasies.

Star-crossed lovers is an example of an archetype because two characters are in love and their relationship is unable to continue based on views by society, family or a tragic event. Romeo and Juliet are the archetypal star-crossed lovers; they were in love but they took their own lives after their families disagreed with their relationship.

Shakespearean Star-Crossed Lovers

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet was written and published by William Shakespeare in the 1500s. The play tells the story of forbidden love and is the first example of archetypal star-crossed lovers. Romeo and Juliet is considered to be one of the greatest love stories of all time.

The story begins with a fight between the servants of two noble families: the Capulets and Montagues, who do not like each other. Romeo, the son of a Montague, is in love with a woman named Rosaline who does not return his affection. His cousin Benvolio encourages him to fall in love with someone else. Meanwhile, Juliet's father, Capulet, holds a masquerade ball and hopes a man named Paris will start to win the affection of his daughter Juliet.

Romeo and Benvolio decide to go to the Capulet ball; Romeo wants to go because he sees Rosaline's name on the guest list. Benvolio suggests that Romeo go to try to meet other beautiful women of Verona.

Juliet is told Paris is interested in marrying her, and her mother suggests she try to decide at the ball if he would be someone she would like to marry. As soon as Romeo sees Juliet, he falls in love with her and forgets about Rosaline.

They talk and both feel an attraction to each other. When they learn they are from feuding families, they are distraught but can do nothing about the love they already feel for one another. Romeo goes to his friend Friar Lawrence and asks that he marries them in secret; Friar Lawrence agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet in hopes that it will help end the feud between the families.

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