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How does Shakespeare create a sense of tragedy in the final scene of 'Romeo and Juliet'?

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Introduction

English Coursework: How does Shakespeare create a sense of tragedy in the final scene of 'Romeo and Juliet'? Four hundred years ago, late in the sixteenth century, William Shakespeare wrote 'The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet'; a play that tells the tale of the love between the children of two feuding families, and the tragedy that becomes their love. Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet fall in love, then further dishonour, and in this course disobey, their parents by secretly getting married. When Romeo's best friend Mercutio is killed in a brawl Romeo takes revenge (death) on his killer, Tybalt, Juliet's cousin. Romeo is here by banished and has to leave Juliet to marry her father's choice of groom: Parris. Juliet will not marry him and again disobeys her father. She takes a sleeping potion to make her appear dead. Romeo doesn't get this message and, on hearing the news of her death, goes to her tomb to take his own life. Juliet wakes up to find her love dead and in her pain takes also her life. 'Romeo and Juliet', is, by definition, a tragedy: 1) A play in which the protagonist falls to disaster through the combination of a personal failing and circumstances with which he cannot deal 2) Any dramatic or literary composition dealing with such themes. Defined by the Oxford Dictionary In this play Romeo and Juliet are the protagonists that fall to disaster. The disaster is their death and it's surrounding circumstances. Both Romeo and Juliet also committed numerous personal failings during the play. For example, they both disobeyed their parents and brought dishonour to their families, which in Elizabethan times (when the play was written and first performed) were considered very serious personal failings. They both lied and deceived people. Romeo had also committed murder and probably misused several young women before he met Juliet. Although the text suggests this several times it does not actually state it. ...read more.

Middle

Then the peacefulness is restored as Romeo grants Paris's dying wish, to be laid with Juliet. The passion, anger, and ultimately the compromise and forgiveness on Romeo's part increase the tragic element, and restores Romeo as the noble hero after his ferocious madness. Romeo and Juliet are alone during Romeo's final soliloquy, which therefore shows that he is telling the truth in what he says. This stagecraft means that when Romeo starts to describe his love for Juliet and addresses her "my love, my wife" the audience know that his feelings are true, and that the emotions which drove him to such previous madness where based on pure love. This final build up of emotion and outpour of Romeo's true feelings is the tragic climax at the end of Romeo's life. In Romeo's final soliloquy he refers to his soul as "betossed" which means that as he dies he is disturbed so that his soul will not be able to rest. This would make the ending of the play extraordinarily tragic for an Elizabethan audience, because many of them believed that a soul couldn't go to heaven or hell until it had found it's resolution. They believed it would wonder, aimlessly, and many of them thought that that would be a worse fate than hell itself. Romeo talks of Paris to Juliet, which increases tragedy because it affirms the tragic events in the audience's mind, and in Romeo's mind, directly before he dies. Romeo believes himself and Paris to be the victims of "sour misfortune's book", so he grants Paris's final request in a mood of compassion for his rival. This brings back the theme of fate V freewill, one of the themes that makes the whole play a tragedy because Romeo and Paris have no control over there fate in this series of situations. In Romeo's final lines he admires Juliet for her beauty ("beauty's ensign"). ...read more.

Conclusion

The Capulets and Lord Montague, united in their guilty grief, shake hands and heed the Prince's words. They decide to make a pure gold statue of the lovers. This is ironic as in act 4, scene 1 Romeo says, "There is thy gold - worse poison to men's souls, Doing more murder in this loathsome world, Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell" (Line 80-83). He is talking to the apothecary and saying that the apothecary's poison is good compared to gold, and the corruption that it brings. This heightens the tragedy of the ultimate reason behind the play because it suggests that although the Capulets and Montegues have put their abhorrence behind them, the true problem still underlies. The corruption of money, which had a lot to do with the feud between the families in the first place, still, and probably always will, live on. A theme that runs through most Elizabethan plays is the use of weather to create a mood within the play, and on the stage. For example, in Macbeth the very first scene (where evil first emerges) is set on a foggy, miserable, heath. Throughout 'Romeo and Juliet' the weather is used to symbolise chaos, usually in morbid scenes. For example, when Romeo goes to the tomb. Elizabethans would have been aware that chaos in the heavens meant disorder on earth. It was a common idea at the time that has links with many of their beliefs. A good example of how the weather is used is right at the end of the play. In the Prince's last speech he says, " The sun for sorrow will not show his head". This shows that the tragedy is so great that even the weather is affected. In the passages of the play that lead up to tragedy, there are usually references to stumbling. For example, there is stumbling before Mercutio's death, and Friar Lawrence is in the Capulet's tomb. Elizabethans believed stumbling was an ill omen, which therefore would enhance the tragedy because the tragedy has been foretold to the audience. ...read more.

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