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A tragedy is a play in which the main character or characters die at the end. What were the causes of the tragedy in Romeo and Juliet and how does Shakespeare dramatise them?

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Introduction

A tragedy is a play in which the main character or characters die at the end. What were the causes of the tragedy in Romeo and Juliet and how does Shakespeare dramatise them? There are two main types of tragedy, Modern tragedy and Greek tragedy. Greek tragedy is down to the idea of fate and the gods. A hero defies the gods, often due to fatal flaws and this causes his downfall. Romeo and Juliet is very much linked with Greek tragedy with the characters having many fatal flaws such as youth and rivalry as well as cultural and social flaws. Shakespeare uses tragedy to resolve and end the rivalry between the Capulets and Montagues as well as bringing the play to an end. There are many tragedies in the play including Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris and the death of Romeo, Juliet and Lady Montague. These all lead on to each other, each one creating and provoking the next death or tragedy. There are many causes for each tragedy. The causes include fate, ambition, adolescent rebellion, conflict and rivalry, codes of honour, patriarchy and authority. Shakespeare constantly refers to fate in the play from the very beginning, starting with the prologue. "A pair of star crossed lovers take their life" Shakespeare tells us that their fate was mapped out in the stars so their death was inevitable. Shakespeare wanted the audience to believe that the events that occur were down to fate. ...read more.

Middle

Romeo and Juliet both disobey their parents with their association with each other. Juliet not only disobeys her parents but also urges Romeo to rebel against his identity "deny thy father and refuse thy name". Juliet is attempting to persuade Romeo to forget about his family name and his need to follow codes of honour so they can be together. However this would be hard for Romeo to do as the Elizabethan society he was apart of would have put a lot of pressure on him to follow the codes of honour and respect his families wishes not to associate with their enemy; the Capulets. This adolescent rebellion causes Romeo and Juliet to be secretive and hasty with their decisions which leads to them marrying so quickly which leads to many other events which ultimately results in their death. The conflict and rivalry force Romeo and Juliet to keep their relationship a secret. The conflict and rivalry is a big part of the play and leads to violence and death. The prologue shows the audience exactly how the conflict and rivalry between the families will play big part in the play. "the fearful passage of their death marked love and the continuance of their parents rage, which but their children end, naught could remove, is now the two hours traffic of our stage". This shows that the play relates to the progress of Romeo and Juliet's love and the families on going feud. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shakespeare uses the literacy technique of foreshadowing, where there is a use of symbols to show what will happen in the future. Everyone can figure out what is going to happen to Romeo and Juliet. The prologue states that the "star crossed lovers take their life" as the play progresses there are many subtle clues that confirms that Romeo and Juliet will eventually die. Although the audience is aware of the outcome of the play they are still interested this is because Shakespeare includes very action packed scenes, for example when Mercutio is killed. This scene is the first instance of tragedy for the young lovers. Romeo is forced to deal with the reality of his marriage. He chooses to avenge a friends death rather than spare Juliet's sorrow. A dying Mercutio sets up the action for the rest of the play "a plague o both your houses". This reminds the audience of the tragedy that will occur. Tybalts untimely return drives Romeo to kill him. Romeo contrasts his earlier efforts to avoid confrontation increasing the dramatic tension in the scene. Shakespeare successfully dramatises the play, presenting the audience with a number of ideas on who or what is to blame for the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. I believe that all of the factors I have written about play a part in the out come of the play, but I think Shakespeare's aim was to get his Elizabethan audience to put the events down to fate. ...read more.

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