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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

How does Shakespeare create a sense of tragedy in the final scene of Romeo and Juliet? The Oxford English dictionary defines tragedy as 1) A play in which the main protagonist falls to disaster through the combination of a personal failing and circumstances which they cannot deal. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy because both characters kill themselves to show how much they love each other, even though that love is forbidden. Romeo and Juliet is different from other plays of Elizabethan times as Shakespeare made the play about a type of love that is positive as opposed to the type of love shown in the revenge tragedy plays of the era. Revenge tragedies include 'The Duchess of Malfi' by Webster, 'The Spanish Tragedy' by Kyd and 'Tamberlaine' by Marlowe. The genre revenge tragedy is based on murder and revenge. The murders are normally depicted in excruciating detail. Themes of this genre include social, political and religious interests of the Elizabethan people. In addition to this, the theme of parental control and the rebellion of their children to an extent can and did determine the ending as both Romeo and Juliet betrayed their parents which was, in the Elizabethan era, a major crime which was comparable to treason. If Shakespeare had written the play in such a way that the main characters lived "happily ever after", it would have been censored as it goes against the natural order of time. ...read more.

Middle

As Romeo enters the tomb, he is angry and grieving. He threatens to "...tear thee joint from joint, and strew this hungry churchyard with limbs". This is a stark contrast to the way Paris behaves in the tomb, strewing the tomb with flowers and stating that he will pour perfumed water all over Juliet's resting place. I believe that Paris is only saying this a he feels that he has to as he was almost married to her. There is no real passion to what he says as opposed to Romeo's much more aggressive and passionate speech which shows his complete devastation over his wife's' death. As Paris' speech opens, he puts out his light, bathing him in darkness. This says he is more artificial in his feelings as he says, "...put it out, for I would not be seen". This contrasts to Romeo, who asks for the light, which is relevant to what he says in regard to Paris. Romeo takes Juliet's wedding ring from her finger, " a precious ring, a ring that I must use in dear employment therefore hence, be gone" (Act5 sc3) He keeps her ring as his proof of their love and as a keepsake that reminds him of her. Romeo uses words of violence like 'savage', 'strew', 'tear' and 'fierce' to show his emotion. Romeo is obviously deeply distressed by the death of his wife and is abusive and angry over Juliet's death. ...read more.

Conclusion

Said he not so? Or did I dream it so? Or am I mad hearing him talk of Juliet?" (Act 5 sc 3) Romeo believes that he and Parris are victims of "sour misfortunes book" so he obeys Parris' final wish and lays him near Juliet's body in a mood of compassion. This refers to another theme, Fate V Freewill. As Romeo prepares himself for his suicide, Romeo personifies death and imagines that death wants Juliet for itself "that unsubstantial death is amorous". Romeo finishes getting ready and decides once and for all to join Juliet, "Here's to my love... thus I die with a kiss" Friar Lawrence and Balthasar appear at the churchyard and comment on what has happened which increases the tragedy as they emphasize the scale and enormity of what has happened. "And steeped in blood? Ah, what an unkind hour is guilty of this lamentable chance!" in addition to this, the Friar's opening uses references to stumbling "have my old feet stumbled at graves?" In Elizabethan times stumbling was seen as a bad omen. The audience would be aware of this and know that a dreadful event is coming. The Friar and Balthasar speak in short sentences and quick exchanges which add urgency and increase tension. Friar Lawrence brings the subject of fear into the mix and builds more tension when he says, "fear comes upon me". ...read more.

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