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What makes Romeo & Juliet a Tragedy?

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Introduction

What makes Romeo & Juliet a Tragedy? "Romeo and Juliet" is considered by most people to be Shakespeare's most tragic work. Two young people die for their love for each other - what can be more purer, romantic and tragic than that. But is it as simple as that? What does actually make the play so tragic? Before we can discuss the tragic aspects of Romeo and Juliet, we must first understand the meaning of the term 'tragedy'. The Chambers Dictionary defines tragedy as " a type of drama dealing with tragic events and often involving the fall of an honourable, worthy and important protagonist, often with elevated action and language; a play of this type; the art of such drama; any piece of literature, music, etc ending with disaster for the protagonist; a disaster, any sad story or turn of events; any event involving killing". Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy by the definition in the dictionary. Both lead roles, Romeo and Juliet, die in the play, therefore making it tragic. However there are many more factors which are typical of Shakespeare' tragedies which occur, and some factors which make the play less tragic. ...read more.

Middle

He blames fate for what happens to him. At the very end, the Prince of Verona says 'see what a scourge is laid upon your hate, that heaven finds to kill your joys with love.' He tells the families that they were being punished by the death of their offspring for the long lasting dispute between the Capulet's and the Montague's. Aspects of Romeo and Juliets personalities also add to the tragedy. Romeo is passionate; his heart rules his head and he acts on his immediate feelings without stopping to think of the consequences. He is also fickle - first he's in love with Rosaline, then he suddenly falls in love with Juliet without a thought of his former 'love'. Romeo's vengeance for Mercutio's death overwhelms him. Minutes before, he had encouraged Mercutio to "put thy rapier up", but than he fights, killing Tybalt. Juliet threatens suicide believing it's the only way to escape her troubled surroundings. She cries, 'Do thou but all my resolution wise and with this knife I'll help it presently,' crying this in Act III, scene ii, wanting her life to end because she has no other route to get away. ...read more.

Conclusion

Juliet knows she cannot obey her father - she is already secretly married to Romeo, and she foretells the tragic outcome when she warns her mother that if the marriage to Paris is not delayed they will have to "make the bridal bed In that dim monument where Tybalt lies". Juliet now knows there will be no possibility of reconciliation with her father. Her union with Romeo has lost Juliet her family whatever the outcome. 'Romeo and Juliet' was written as a tragedy, and is still seen as such over four hundred years later. A modern day audience may react differently to some aspects of the play - the treatment of women and the age of Juliet, for example. In our society, Juliet would still be considered a child and Romeo would be in as much trouble for his marriage to underage Juliet as he would be for the murder of Tybalt. Yet, despite that, our sympathies are with the young couple who were not responsible for the feud between their parents but who had to suffer the consequences. The tragedy is inevitable from the beginning. From the moment Romeo first sees Juliet and they share their first kiss they hurtle headlong towards their death. Emma Miler English Course Work 1 ...read more.

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