When it comes to the romance genre, the phrase “star-crossed lovers” is found in many plot descriptions and synopses. It originates from one of literature’s most famous tragic couples — Romeo and Juliet. In the prologue to Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare wrote, “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.” According to Dictionary.com, this was the first use of the phrase.
But what exactly does it mean to be star-crossed lovers, and is the term ever misused? A couple that is “star-crossed” is essentially doomed to fail. Star-crossed lovers believe that the stars, the heavens, or similar outside forces are in control of their destiny and are working against them (via Literary Devices).
In Romeo and Juliet, of course, the outside forces working against the lovers are their own families who won’t allow them to be together.
Romeo and Juliet aren't the only famous star-crossed lovers in pop culture
Star-crossed lovers aren’t ill-fated because they lack love for one another, so the term shouldn’t be used for two people who do love each other but just can’t make it work. Rather, it applies to couples whose fates are determined by things they can’t control.
A more recent example of star-crossed lovers is Jack Dawson (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (played by Kate Winslet) in the movie Titanic (via The Los Angeles Times). The first outside force working against them is Rose’s family — and the fact that she is engaged to someone else. While she ultimately decides to defy her family and fiancé and be with Jack, their relationship comes to an end as a result of another outside force that seals their fate — the ship hitting an iceberg and Jack dying in the icy waters. Couldn’t Rose have made room for him on the door, though? That’s a topic for a different day (via ScreenRant).
Another example of doomed lovers are Buffy and Angel from the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In fact, IGN describes Buffy and Angel as “the ultimate star-crossed lovers.” A moment of pure happiness with Buffy leads Angel to be returned to his incarnation Angelous, who is evil and has no soul. Although he’s able to get his soul back, the pair could never be together because it would cause the world to end — and that’s an intense outside force if we ever heard of one.
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