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What aspects contribute to the tragedy of 'Romeo and Juliet'?

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Introduction

What aspects contribute to the tragedy of 'Romeo and Juliet'? The play is introduced by a Prologue, describing two households "both alike in dignity". The first aspect that contributes to the tragedy of 'Romeo and Juliet' is the feud between the two families; the House of Montague and the House of Capulet. The quarrelling runs through the whole of the family from the top, the Lords and Ladies, down to the servants and the branches of the family, friends and cousins. The reason for the quarrelling is not known and it is referred to only as an "ancient grudge". This fighting also disturbs the peace in the quiet streets of Verona, "where civil blood makes civil hands unclean," which also indicates that the blood of civilians is being spilt. In the Prologue it speaks of the fate that has decreed to be unkind to Romeo and Juliet and will make their love end in death. This is shown through "a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life," and "death marked love". The Prologue states what will happen in the end, "with their death bury their parents' strife," which tells us that the death of Romeo and Juliet will stop the quarrelling between the two families. ...read more.

Middle

It is tragic that it is the first time she has loved someone when she dies. Juliet also tragically says, "my grave is like to be my wedding bed", which is predicting what will happen to her. We know that Juliet's love is very great and that she is embarrassed because Romeo has heard that she loves him, "Thou knowest the mark of night is on my face, else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek". The quick agreement to marriage and love contributes to the tragedy. Juliet recognises the hasty decision, "What I have spoke, but farewell compliment", and she would rather be wooed so she asks Romeo is he loves her, "If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully". Juliet again fears for the outcome of the marriage when she says, "Although I joy in thee, I have no joy of this contract tonight". She also re-emphasises the hastiness of their decisions by repeating that she thinks they are deciding too quickly. She ironically predicts, "It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden", she continues to say, "Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be", whereby she is foretelling her fate because lightning is quick, it burns and kills when it strikes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mercutio curses the houses because he is killed by fate. Romeo's determination to avenge the death of Mercutio leads to the tragic fears he expresses in the lines, "this day's black fate on moe days doth depend, this but begins the woe others must end." Romeo's fate is sealed. Tybalt's ignorance of the marriage of Romeo and Juliet is dramatically ironic. Romeo tempted fate at Friar Lawrence's cell with the words "love-devouring Death do what he dare." Fate spoils the hopeful expectations of the lovers when the Prince decrees that Romeo be banished from Verona for killing Tybalt. Friar Lawrence organises Juliet's sleeping potions so that she awakes in the vault and dispatches letters of explanation to Romeo. However, fate intervenes when Romeo does not receive the letters and he drinks poison. Juliet's fate is sealed when she discovers the dead body of Romeo and stabs herself. Thus, the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet seems unavoidable. The combination of: the quarrelling households, Romeo and Juliet's secret and passionate love, Friar Lawrence's well-intentioned yet mismanaged attempt to resolve the hatred between the warring families, the autocratic behaviour of Lord Capulet and the cruel hand of fate conspire to rob Romeo and Juliet of their happiness. Indeed, the final tragic irony is that after the death of the young lovers, Capulet and Montague make up their quarrel, but in the Prince's words, "All are punished". ...read more.

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