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How Far is it Appropriate to describe Romeo and Juliet as a "Tragedy of Errors"?

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Introduction

How Far is it Appropriate to describe Romeo and Juliet as a "Tragedy of Errors"? At the end of Romeo and Juliet the audience is left wondering what the real cause of the tragedy is. Are the lovers foolish and rash, are they under the influence of bad advice from those whom they trusted, are they "writ...in sour misfortune's book" and ill-fated right from the start of the play, or is it really a "tragedy of errors". All through the play Shakespeare makes the audience feel that there are various factors which result in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. The play begins with a prologue which reveals to us the "ancient grudge". This first part of the sonnet leads us to believe that the double tragedy takes place because both Romeo and Juliet have come "from the fatal loins of these two foes" not because they make rash decisions. The feud seems to be the ultimate cause of the tragedy, as, if the feud did not exist, Juliet's "only love" would not have been "sprung from [her] only hate". The lovers' would have been openly accepted and the match would be a perfectly plausible for the time as both families are "alike in dignity". ...read more.

Middle

A very obvious "error" occurs in the very fact that the two meet and fall in love as they are both from families who are mortal enemies, as Juliet says he is her "only love, sprung from [her] only hate". Romeo should not really be at the ball, and his presence can be described as an "error" which has a very significant role in the tragedy. However, when Juliet learns of Romeo's true identity, she tries to blames fate for the fact that she falls in love with Romeo, describing her love for Romeo as "prodigious". She sees their love as doomed, because he ought to be her "loathed enemy" when in fact she has fallen in love with him. The most frustrating of these "errors" is the mistiming of Romeo's death and the waking of Juliet in "Capel's monument". Each of these happen at just the wrong moment, but only, it seems, by milliseconds. If Juliet wakes up minutes earlier, she would escape with Romeo to Mantua, and all would be well. The tragedy of the mistiming of the potions is emphasised by the arrival of Friar Lawrence with the words "how oft tonight/ Have my old feet stumbled at graves". He too, enters the scene a fraction too late, and so is unable to stall the calamity that occurs. ...read more.

Conclusion

If he had waited in Mantua for even fifteen minutes, the tragedy would have been easily averted. There are many bad decisions made during the course of the play, many are made by Romeo and Juliet, but some are made by other characters such as Friar Lawrence and Nurse. The plan that Friar Lawrence devises is extremely risky, and it is surprising that such a seemingly stupid plan is suggested by a character we have learnt to respect and think of as wise. His lack of knowledge about the real world is also a cause of the tragedy as he seems to think that the marriage between Romeo and Juliet will turn their "households rancour to pure love", which although it does happen, it is not due to their marriage, but their deaths. His acquiescence to their request to be married can in itself be seen as insanely irresponsible and also quite impulsive. There are many factors which contribute to the final culmination of the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, but it seems that it is quite appropriate to describe it as a "tragedy of errors". This is because many of the major causes of the tragedy seem to be sparked by the "errors" that occur throughout the play, such as Juliet's marriage to Paris, which could be fuelled by Romeo's intervention in the fight. ?? ?? ?? ?? 15/07/2008 PAGE 1/2 SHIVANI SINGHAL ENGLISH COURSEWORK MR. FORBES ...read more.

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