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"Romeo and Juliet" - A tragedy?

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Introduction

"Romeo and Juliet" - A tragedy? William Shakespeare was a playwright and an actor in the sixteenth century. He wrote a series of sonnets and plays that have become increasingly popular. Many of his ideas were taken from other writers, and he transformed them brilliantly. His plays were of many genres, including a series of tragedies. "Romeo and Juliet" was part of this series along side other well-known titles such as "Othello" and "Macbeth". It was based on Arthur Brooke's poem, "The tragicall historye of Romeus and Juliet". Brooke's version was long and insipid, but Shakespeare's genius as a language craftsman made it powerfully vivid. What makes "Romeo and Juliet" a great tragedy? To know this we must review the definition of what a tragedy is. The Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary identifies it as "A species of drama in which action and language are elevated and the catastrophe is usually sad." On a more basic level, I would define a tragedy as a literary work that has a serious or sorrowful content, often a combination of events leads to a disastrous conclusion. Aristotle was a Greek philosopher; he too made his own study of what constitutes a tragedy. ...read more.

Middle

The "greater power" that Friar Lawrence refers to is, of course, fate. Shakespeare again chooses to place the blame on a higher power rather than an individual, signifying his desire to make the audience believe that no one person or thing was responsible for the deaths of the young couple but fate. These previous quotations seem to prove that Fate was responsible for the death of the destined couple. However, is it true to say that Fate was the sole contributor to the deaths of the young couple, or was their demise brought about by the mistakes of others? I think it would be truer to say that although fate played a major role in the conclusion, the part of the other characters is also important. The Friar, Romeo's friend and assistant of Juliet in her final plan, changed the course of events by helping the young couple in their plans to marry and assisting Juliet in her scheme to be with Romeo once again. If the Friar had not agreed to marry Romeo and Juliet, it is possible that the couple would have given up on the idea of being together. On the other hand, Romeo and Juliet may have been fated to marry and would have partaken in the ceremony one way or another no matter what the Friar's decision. ...read more.

Conclusion

Romeo says "O let us hence, I stand on sudden haste" He is in a hurry; he cares not for detail but only for action. Friar Lawrence is far more sensible and considerate of the consequences. "Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast" Here it becomes apparent how immature Romeo is, he has not considered what will happen after the marriage, or the fact that their families are great enemies, they are living for the moment, and they pay the consequences. Friar Lawrence is wise, he realises that they are moving too fast, but in his wish to do good is unable to prevent them. Throughout the whole play there is evidence of their haste, and there is no consideration for the future, only that they must get married now. For instance Romeo kills Tybalt in haste, it is his immediate instinct on the death of his good friend Mercutio, he yet again does not consider the consequences. And when Romeo hears that he is banished, he very nearly kills himself without thought of anything else. There are only a couple of instances when either part of the couple stop to consider their actions, they are too blinded by love to care. This tragic flaw is, alongside the sequence of preceding events, the main cause of their tragic death. Nicola Vousden 11Ol ...read more.

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