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What makes Romeo and Juliet a tragedy, and who or what is responsible for it?

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Introduction

What makes Romeo and Juliet a tragedy, and who or what is responsible for it? By Michael Taubman The story of Romeo and Juliet has been around for many years. The earliest version of the story first appeared in 1476. In 1530 Luigi da Porto set the tragedy in Verona and Matteo added a few characters in 1554 along with the plot. Then in 1562 Arthur Brooke translated it into English, which became a long, narrative poem titled 'Romeo and Juliet' and is recognized as being Shakespeare's primary source of his play. The story has been and always will be classed as a tragedy, though some critics argue that Romeo and Juliet is not a true tragedy in the strictest definition of 'tragedy'. They believe tragedy comes from a flaw in the characters unlike Romeo and Juliet, which is more a tragedy of fate as it was the circumstances around them which caused the tragic ending, i.e the feud between the two houses. The beginning of the play 'the prologue' speaks directly to the audience by the chorus. The prologue reveals the essence of the plot in a fourteen-line sonnet. The tragedy we are told involves a pair of ill-fated lovers or 'star-crossed lovers' who will end the long and bitter feud raging between their families by their deaths. The prologue begins with the line 'two households, both alike in dignity' which shows that each of the two houses are equal in nobility and states that the feud rages between two families. Also on line 6 it refers to Romeo and Juliet as 'star-crossed lovers'. ...read more.

Middle

I believe the Nurse agrees to be Juliet's messenger because she sees how much Juliet loves Romeo and wants her to be happy. Although she wants Juliet to be happy (act 2 scene 5) the Nurse begins to tease Juliet not telling her what Romeo has said. This is probably only because she is excited as well and just wants to see the look on Juliet's face. Later on in the play, when Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished, the Nurse seems to take side with Tybalt most probably because he is part of the family and she raised him like she is with Juliet. Although she doesn't take Tybalt's side entirely, she still blames Romeo for what happened, and then men in general, 'no faith, no honesty in men all perjured'. In act 3 scene 5 the Nurse tells Juliet to marry the County Paris even though she knows Juliet is already married to Romeo. This would be because Juliet's father had told Juliet that she was to marry Paris and in those days girls often married their parents choice of husband. Although this would take suspicion off her and Romeo, during this scene the Nurse does protect Juliet from her father but this completely fools the Nurse, as Juliet has changed not even obeying her own father. In act 3 scene 5 line 239 it marks the end of the relationship between Juliet and the Nurse, as now she has to depend upon herself. The Nurse was a great help for Juliet and was always there for her during the play, but during some parts she could have behaved differently. ...read more.

Conclusion

It begins with the servants fighting which is remarkable as they aren't blood related but still fight for their name. Then Benvolio and Tybalt enter the 'next stage up' from the servants. And finally the 'big guns' of the feud enter Old Capulet and Old Montague each only wanting to fight one another. To me this seems similar to Roman war, the leaders of each army were only properly suited to fight the opposite leader, and anyone else would be too easy. I say this, as the feud appears to 'spark up' at the Capulet Ball between Romeo and Tybalt but Old Capulet doesn't really seem bothered of Romeos presence as he only wishes to fight with Old Montague. To conclude, it's in my eyes that the cause for the tragic end to Romeo and Juliet can be mostly put on the feud between the two houses. It's this feud that caused the death of Tybalt, Mercution, Paris, Romeo and Juliet, as had there been no controversy between these people none would have been slayed by one another. Romeo and Juliet has to be one of the most famous romantic tragedies of all times. But Shakespeare's play could not have been so tragic with the feud and characters action because of the feud, such as Friar Laurence's plan of Juliet faking her own death. This plot would have never come about had it not been because of the feud, the fight between Romeo and Tybalt, which resulted in Romeo's banishment. The feud didn't really affect Old Capulet's marriage arrangement for Juliet and Paris, but had there been no feud then Juliet could have told her parents of her love for Romeo earlier and with no fear of being told she could never see him. . ...read more.

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