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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Document length: 2677 words

'Romeo and Juliet' - romance or tragedy?

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Introduction

'Romeo and Juliet' - romance or tragedy? 'Romeo and Juliet' was written by William Shakespeare in 1589. The tragedy and romance of the play has been performed many times in different ways, but is it really a romance or a tragedy? The prologue at the beginning of the play that is spoken by the chorus gives the audience a summarised story line so they know what to expect, "The fearful passage of their death marked love". From the prologue, the audience will know if it is of a high-quality or an appalling play and if it's a romance or a tragedy. The prologue in 'Romeo and Juliet' is written in a sonnet form - this means that the play is going to be about love in one way or another. The audience would recognize this but would also identify that the play being a tragedy by the way "death" is involved in the sonnet. In a typical romance the audience would expect to see two beautiful lovers fall for each other because of destiny and then they should live happily ever after. However 'Romeo and Juliet' is not like this, the audience is constantly reminded that they are destined to be with each other but the two different families are pulling them apart.

Middle

Romeo thinks Juliet is perfect and unreal. When seeing Juliet, Romeo fears because what is happening seems dream-like and out of this world "I am afeard....all of this is but a dream too flattering - sweet to be substantial". Romeo and Juliet have both fallen in love with each other very easily. Romeo also tells Juliet his "life were better ended by their hate, than death proguèd, wanting of thy love"; he would rather die in love with Juliet than to die not in love with her. Although this sounds very sweet, it is also very foolish of him to say this as he has only just met Juliet, but this could be the love speaking, not him. Juliet, just like Romeo has fallen in love very easily. But she is the most sensible one out of the two; she fears for his safety and him being seen by her guards "If they do see, they will murder thee." Juliet is a very young girl and she obeys her parents very much so loving Romeo and doing something on her own is a big step forward for her. Juliet is still quite unsure though; she asks Romeo straight out if he loves her "Dost thou love me?"

Conclusion

Although this sounds like a good idea, it is relying so much on other people that it does not work out, this is the marking point where there whole romantic end turns to a tragic death of two lovers. Juliet takes the potion after having much doubt when the time arose, she is filled with fearful thoughts; is the Friar honest? Will she awake in the tomb before Romeo comes? Will she go mad with dread? "How if, when I am laid into the tomb, I wake before the time that Romeo come to redeem me?" this is just one of many thoughts playing with her mind. Eventually she drinks the potion, this displays true love between Juliet and Romeo; she has risked her life to be with Romeo "Romeo, Romeo, Romeo! Here's drink - I drink to thee." Before this scene there has been lots of clues to what is going to happen to the two lovers at the end of the play this technique is called 'foreshadowing'; "some vile forfeit of untimely death", "my grave is like to be my wedding bed", "Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast", "These violent delights have violent ends". All of these are telling the audience that death is upon the two lovers even though they are meant for each other.

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