“Were she better, or you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves’” (111).
The reference of crossed stars alludes to the familiar prologue of Romeo and Juliet:
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is not the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
The term “star crossed” means “fated” or “destined” for people’s stars to cross and their lives to intersect. Van Houten illustrates the contradiction between the idea of star crossed lovers, or, people completely at the whim of a greater power (such as fate), and faults being not in our stars, “but in ourselves.” He argues that Shakespeare was wrong and declares that the injustices of life are not merely human faults but the product of an indifferent universe. The great irony Van Houten emphasizes is the magnitude of Hazel’s illness against Augustus’s health, but rather than express anger or sorrow, he acknowledges that “it is the nature of stars to cross,” and it is as inevitable as oblivion.