Shakespeare’s Romeo as a Tragic Hero Essay
What made an old story “of woe” about teen love and suicide the most filmed play to date and a cultural phenomenon with an impressive legacy that lives to that day? 1595 “Romeo and Juliet” became Shakespeare’s most famous play in his lifetime, and the complex characters that he carefully created have grown to become the archetypes of young, tragic lovers since then. Shakespeare showed his mastery through his depiction of tragic love capable of taking lives and wreaking havoc as well as the poetic structure. Mixing comedy and tragedy, the author employed every device at hand to showcase character development. This paper will discuss Romeo, her role in the play, and how the concepts of misfortune, conflict, and fatal flaw apply to her.
Romeo and Juliet’s love, no matter how strong, was not able to break the bounds of the rigid social order in the 13th-century Verona. The question arises as to whether the tragic end was preventable by any means and who was to blame for the characters’ misfortune. It is possible to explain the concept of misfortune in the play in a variety of ways. For instance, Friar Lawrence, who was in favor of young love, is unable to arrive at Capulet’s Monument in time and thus, inadvertently lets Romeo’s suicide happen. All in all, the events unfold in such a manner that it brings one to think that these were not coincidences but the manifestations of fate.
The analysis of the play exposes one major external and one internal conflicts, both of which have something to do with Romeo’s character. First, Romeo, a Montague, suffers from the consequences of the decades-long feud between Capulets and Montagues. As a direct offspring, he realizes that his love is of a forbidden kind but cannot resist the fatal attraction. The internal conflict is a bit deeper than the family quarrels. In Romeo and Juliet , a slim chance to live and to love opposes the almighty fate. The two conflicts are interconnected: it was not Romeo’s choice to be born a Montague, and he can only hope that his romance survives despite all odds.
What makes Shakespeare’s artistry so great is his ability to create believable characters: they are living breathing creatures not devoid of imperfections. However, in the play about impossible love, each of the main characters’ flaws becomes fatal and brings about the tragic end. Romeo’s fatal flaw is his impetuousness: the combination of immaturity, inability to consider others’ advice, and social grooming set him for an impending disaster. Romeo’s impatience and impulsiveness push him to commit suicide while ignoring other solutions. Unwillingly, he causes the death of the one he truly loved, Juliet.
In his world-famous play, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates a believable portrait of a teenager of a marriageable age living in 13th century Italy. Romeo meets Juliet at a tender age of fifteen and dives blindly, head-first in love. Their romance, no matter how promising and endearing, is not bound to happen as the young lovers belong to quarreling families who will not bury the hatchet even for the sake of their children’s happiness. The hostile environment that Romeo has to tolerate is unfortunate, and at a very young age, he is confronted with both an external conflict, the feud, and internal – overcoming the fate. His fatal flaw, impetuousness, does not help his case, for unable to handle the pressure, he commits suicide. The convergence of unwelcoming social conditions and poor timing on par with his imperfect personality make Romeo a true tragic hero.
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Exemplar Essay: Romeo as tragic hero
How does Shakespeare present Romeo as a tragic hero?
In this extract from Act V Scene I, Balthasar brings news of Juliet’s supposed death to Romeo.
News from Verona! How now, Balthasar?
Dost thou not bring me letters from the friar?
How doth my lady? Is my father well?
How doth my Juliet? That I ask again,
For nothing can be ill if she be well.
Then she is well and nothing can be ill:
Her body sleeps in Capel’s monument,
And her immortal part with angels lives.
I saw her laid low in her kindred’s vault,
And presently took post to tell it you.
O, pardon me for bringing these ill news,
Since you did leave it for my office, sir.
Is it e’en so? Then I defy you, stars!
Thou knowest my lodging, get me ink and paper,
And hire post-horses; I will hence tonight.
I do beseech you, sir, have patience.
Your looks are pale and wild, and do import
Tush, thou art deceiv’d.
Leave me, and do the thing I bid thee do.
Hast thou no letters to me from the friar?
No, my good lord.
No matter, get thee gone,
And hire those horses ; I’ll be with thee straight.
Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight.
Let’s see for means. O mischief, thou art swift
To enter in the thoughts of desperate men!
- Shakespeare presents Romeo as a tragic hero in this extract
- Shakespeare presents Romeo as a tragic hero in the play as a whole
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is about how strong emotions have tragic consequences. Romeo’s impulsive nature, and inability to regulate his emotions, result in him making rash decisions, which contribute to the deaths of multiple characters in the play. Arguably, Romeo’s impulsive decisions could be held responsible for the deaths of all of the characters in the play.
In the extract, Shakespeare makes clear that Romeo is impulsive and impatient. In the opening of the extract, Shakespeare has Romeo ask a series of rapid questions about Juliet, eager to hear news of her from Bathalsar. The use of several questions one after another indicates that Romeo is barely pausing for breath or to allow Balthasar to speak, which indicates that he is extremely patient. Upon hearing of her supposed death, Romeo immediately commands Balthasar to ‘get ink and paper’ and ‘hire those horses’. Shakespeare’s repeated use of commands convey the urgency in Romeo’s voice. It is clear that he is not taking the time to think, but is immediately ordering Balthasar to prepare what he needs to return to Verona. Shakespeare contrasts Romeo’s impulsiveness with Balthasar’s patience when he has Balthasar urge Romeo to ‘have patience’ because he fears that Romeo may have some ‘misadventure’ in mind. Moments later, after Balthasar leaves, Romeo states that he will ‘lie’ with Juliet, which implies that he is planning to kill himself in order to be with her in the tomb. Shakespeare seems to present Romeo in this way in order to emphasise how Romeo’s impulsive nature contributes to the play’s tragedy; if he were able to be patient, as Bathalsar advises, perhaps he would soon have received news from Friar Laurence of Juliet’s plan, and could have avoided the tragic end to both of their lives.
In the extract, Shakespeare also makes clear that Romeo is an extremely passionate character. When Romeo asks Balthasar for news of Juliet, Shakespeare has him say that ‘nothing is ill if she will well’. It is clear therefore that Romeo places all of his happiness in Juliet, and is far more interested in news of Juliet’s welfare than he is to hear news of other friends and family. He was similarly passionate earlier in the play, moments after he first met Juliet, when he described her as the ‘sun’, implying that his whole world revolves around her and that she is his source of warmth and life. The audience had previously seen Romeo passionately declaring his feelings towards Rosaline, so the audience is constantly reminded of the fact that Romeo is a deep-feeling character who often seems unable to manage his emotions; this is his tragic flaw. Shakespeare emphasises the passion and emotion in Romeo’s character in order to warn against acting impulsively upon these feelings. If Romeo were able to manage his emotions more effectively, perhaps he could have avoided placing all hopes in Juliet.
Early in the play, Shakespeare makes clear that Romeo and Juliet are fated to die. In the prologue, Shakespeare describes Romeo and Juliet as a ‘star-crossed lovers’ and their love as ‘death-marked’ in order to make clear to the audience that Romeo and Juliet’s love will meet a tragic end. Before Romeo goes to the Capulet ball, Shakespeare makes further references to fate by having Romeo declare a bad dream that he had and his fear that the ‘stars’ have a negative future planned for him. In inviting the audience to know Romeo’s fate even before the events of the play have begun, Shakespeare invites them to see Romeo as the tragic hero, who is destined for destruction and downfall.
In the play as a whole, Shakespeare demonstrates that Romeo’s impulsive and passionate nature contributes to the deaths of other characters. If Romeo had not been so quick to fall in love with Juliet, not considering the consequences of marrying the daughter of the enemy family, he may not have allowed Mercutio to fight in his place, thus could have avoided Mercutio’s death. If Mercutio had not died, Romeo would not have impulsively murdered Tybalt. Romeo’s impulsive decision to murder Tybalt without considering the consequence results in his banishment, which leads to Lady Montague dying of grief. Romeo’s impulsive decision to kill himself to be with Juliet leads him to murder Paris, who stands in his way at Juliet’s tomb. It also leads to Juliet killing herself. Had he waited, his and Juliet’s deaths could have been avoided. Shakespeare therefore presents Romeo as a tragic hero, whose character flaws lead not only to his own death but to the deaths of multiple other characters in the play.
At the end of the play, Shakespeare uses Romeo’s death to restore order in Verona. In the final moments of the play, Lord Montague and Capulet hold out a hand to one another and agree to end the feud that resulted in the deaths of their children. Both promise to raise a statue in honour of the other’s child. Shakespeare has Prince Escalus state that ‘all are punished’ perhaps because he wants to give a clear message to the audience, and to the characters, that all are responsible for the play’s tragic end. It is clear therefore that Romeo and Juliet have not died in vain. Although the play has a deeply tragic ending, there is hope that peace will be restored in Verona for the first time in years.
In conclusion, it is clear that many of Romeo’s actions make him the typical tragic hero, with a major character weakness that not only brings about his own destruction, but also the destruction of others. Shakespeare could be using Romeo’s character to challenge weaknesses in the human condition. At times our inability to regulate our emotions, our selfishness and our impulsiveness can have disastrous consequences. It seems we can all learn from the mistakes made by Romeo.
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Romeo as a Tragic Hero
In this activity, activity overview, template and class instructions, more storyboard that activities, this activity is part of many teacher guides.
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies. It is beneficial for students to understand why is considered so important. One reason is that it contains a tragic hero. This is a protagonist, typically of noble birth, destined for doom. In this play, Romeo clearly fits this description. The famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle, was the first to record the principle attributes of a tragic hero.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Create a storyboard that shows how Romeo can be considered a tragic hero.
- Click "Start Assignment".
- Identify events of the play or characteristics of Romeo that fit into Aristotelian attributes of a tragic hero.
- Illustrate examples for Hamartia, Hubris, Peripeteia, Anagnorisis, Nemesis, and Catharsis .
- Write a short description below each cell that specifically relates Romeo as a tragic hero.
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-10
Difficulty Level 4 (Difficult / Complex)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Type of Activity: Tragic Hero
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
- [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/1] Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric .)
How to Teach Tragic Hero Motifs and Archetypes
Introduction to tragic hero motifs and archetypes.
Begin by defining the terms "tragic hero," "motif," and "archetype." Provide an overview of the characteristics that define a tragic hero, such as noble birth, tragic flaw, and reversal of fortune. Explain how tragic hero motifs and archetypes appear in literature and drama.
Analyzing Romeo as a Tragic Hero
Focus on Romeo's character in "Romeo and Juliet" and guide students in analyzing how he embodies the characteristics of a tragic hero. Encourage students to reference specific scenes, actions, and decisions that highlight Romeo's tragic hero status. Discuss how Romeo's character aligns with the classical tragic hero archetype.
Comparative Analysis of Tragic Heroes
Present students with examples of tragic heroes from other literary works or drama. Engage students in a comparative analysis, exploring how these characters share or differ from the tragic hero archetype. Discuss the concept of universality in tragic hero motifs and archetypes.
Creative Writing and Presentation
Assign a creative writing project where students create a modern interpretation of a tragic hero. Provide guidelines for the project, including the incorporation of key tragic hero motifs and archetypes. Explain the presentation format for sharing their modern tragic hero stories.
Frequently Asked Questions about Romeo as a Tragic Hero
What are the defining characteristics of a tragic hero, and how does romeo exemplify these traits in the play.
A tragic hero typically possesses noble qualities, has a tragic flaw that leads to their downfall, experiences a reversal of fortune, recognizes their fate, and evokes feelings of pity and fear in the audience. Romeo exemplifies these traits in "Romeo and Juliet" as a character of noble birth who possesses a tragic flaw, his impulsiveness. His hasty decisions and impulsive actions, such as his quick love for Juliet and the duel with Tybalt, lead to tragic consequences. These actions result in a reversal of his fortune, as he is banished from Verona and separated from Juliet. Romeo is keenly aware of the role of fate in his life, often referring to being "star-crossed." His tragic journey evokes feelings of pity and fear in the audience, as they empathize with his character's impetuous nature.
The defining characteristics of a tragic hero include noble qualities, a tragic flaw, a reversal of fortune, a recognition of fate, and the evocation of pity and fear. In "Romeo and Juliet," Romeo, a member of the noble Montague family, possesses these qualities. His tragic flaw, impulsiveness, leads to his hasty decisions and impulsive actions, such as falling in love with Juliet quickly and engaging in a fatal duel with Tybalt. These actions result in a reversal of his fortune, leading to his banishment and separation from Juliet. Romeo is acutely aware of the role of fate in his life, often referring to being "star-crossed." His tragic journey evokes feelings of pity and fear in the audience, who empathize with his impetuous nature.
How can storyboards and worksheets be employed to help students understand and visually represent the traits of a tragic hero in the context of Romeo's character?
Storyboards and worksheets can help students understand and visually represent Romeo's characteristics as a tragic hero. Students can create visual representations of key scenes, such as Romeo's impulsive decisions, his nobility, the moment of reversal in his fortune, and his recognition of fate. Worksheets can guide students in summarizing and analyzing these characteristics in the context of the play, encouraging them to think critically about how Romeo embodies the traits of a tragic hero. This visual and analytical approach aids in a deeper comprehension of Romeo's character and his role in the tragic narrative.
Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
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Character Analysis of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet | Romeo as a Tragic Hero
Romeo Character Analysis
Table of Contents
Being the tragic protagonist in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet , Romeo is handsome, brave and gentle. He is trained in all manly accomplishments. Yet he is without a sufficient purpose in life. He is the slave of emotion. His soul quests for love. His character undergoes development. Romeo changes more than Juliet . He changes from love-sick callowness to steady maturity. There are three stages in which his character develops. In the beginning Romeo moons over Rosaline. In the second stage Romeo falls in love with Juliet , marries her, kills Tybalt and is exiled. In the final stage Romeo kills himself when he receives the false news of the death of Juliet.
Romeo’s First Stage
In the first few scenes Romeo is the Petrarchan lover in the Petrarchan situation. He creates poetical and pitiful phrases in honour of chaste and cold Rosaline . He thinks he loves irresponsive Rosaline. He appears to be in love with Rosaline, but in truth he is in love only with his own idea. He is really like the Duke is Twelfth Night , who sighs for Olivia. He speaks feelingly of love.
“Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs, Being purg’d, a fire sparkling in lovers eyes, Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers fears ; What is it else? a madness most discreet, A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.”
Romeo: A Very Favourite Character
But even in his first stage Romeo is something more than a vain, melancholy lover. He is noble, generous, virtuous and well-governed. He inspires the affection of his friends — Mercutio , Friar Laurence and Benvolio. He is everybody’s favourite with the single exception of fire-eating Tybalt. His friends and parents are devoted to him. Even Capulet , his enemy, speaks well of him and will not allow him to be molested.
“A bears him like a portly gentleman. And to say truth, Verona brags of him To be a virtuous and well-governed youth. I would not for the wealth of all this town Here in my house do him disparagement,”
Romeo’s Second Stage
Romeo’s passion for Rosaline was a faint shadow of reality. His real emotion of love comes to him when he sees Juliet. The sight of Juliet obliterates Rosaline from his mind. His love is now real, permanent, and complete. He no longer mopes and moons but chooses the course of action. He comes face to face with realities that demand exercise of will, contempt of danger and action. In Juliet’s company he is earnest without losing his gaiety and lightness.
Romeo is a naturally gay and loves pun and fun. Once he is freed from the melancholy of mooning for unresponsive, coldly chaste Rosaline, he becomes witty, as he really is. Once his ardent quest for love is consummated in Juliet, he finds his own. Then he becomes normal, and natural. There is now no rhapsodizing, no sighing. He can now quip merrily and shoot the arrows of wit. He reveals himself Mercutio’s equal in wit and quibbling. Romeo’s skill in verbal dueling is emphasized by comparison with the stodgy contributions made by loyal Benvolio. Mercutio speaks of Romeo, thinking him to be under the baneful influence of Rosaline.
“Alas, poor Romeo, he is already dead –stabbed with a white Wench’s black eye; run through the car with a love song ; the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bowboy’s butt-shaft. And is he a man to encounter Tybalt?”
But when Romeo , now that his love is realized, proves his worth in the sallies of wit, Mercutio admires him:
“Why is not this better now than groaning for love? Now art thou sociable. Now art thou Romeo. Now art thou what thou art, by art as well as by nature.”
He is now a transformed Romeo. He is in high spirits because he is accepted by his new un-Laura-like love.
Romeo’s Strength and Generosity
Romeo’s youthfulness is now turning to manliness. His refusal to fight when Tybalt challenges him is a sign of strength, not of weakness. To suffer calmly the hateful strutting of Tybalt, and to risk the contempt of Mercutio and Benvolio requires moral courage. It is, in fact, Romeo’s love that makes him refuse to fight Tybalt until Tybalt has killed Mercutio. Shakespeare, as Peter Alexander has pointed out, shows Romeo behaving with exemplary composure and forbearance, though insulted by a quarrelsome bully in the presence of his friends. Mercutio’s death affords Romeo the opportunity to reveal that he is no milk-and-water hero. He kills Tybalt , the expert duelist.
Romeo’s progress to the status of tragic hero is questioned when, after the sentence of banishment, he weeps bitterly. But this lasts only for a short while and later on Romeo rises to the occasion.
Romeo’s Third Stage
In the second stage he is transformed from youth to manhood by love and situations. But his transformation is not complete. Now after his banishment he achieves his full strength. When he is informed of the false death of Juliet, he shows greatest restraint and strength of character. He does not weep.
He speaks to Apothecary with authority “There is thy gold; worse poison to men’s’ souls.” At Juliet’s tomb he calls Paris ‘youth’. The feeling that he is now going to die gives him a maturity beyond his years. Romeo dies the master of his fate.
- Importance of Romeo and Juliet Balcony Scene
Romeo’s Rashness and Maturity
It has been pointed out that Romeo is rash in taking the poison. But his rashness is diminished when we compare him with other characters. T.J.B. Spencer says,
“Our impression of his rashness is to some extent diminished by contrast both with Tybalt and with Mercutio, neither of whom shows any restraint in the murderous pursuit of his ‘honour’.”
Moreover, though his impetuosity remains, there are many small indications of Romeo’s maturing in the fifth Act. Notably he has new concern for others. He feels for the Apothecary as a human being “Buy food and get thy self in flesh.” He arranges for a letter to his parents. He takes thought for his servant Balthasar : “Live, and be prosperous and farewell.” He feels for the plight of young Paris , one writ with him in the misfortune’s book. He begs pardon of Tybalt.
Inexpressible beautiful and moving is this gentleness of Romeo in his death hour. His yearning to be at peace with his foe, his beseeching pardon of him and calling him kinsman in taken of final atonement, his forbearance and even magnanimity towards Paris, his words of closing consideration and kindly farewell to his faithful Balthasar, all combine to crown Romeo as the prince of youthful gentleman and lovers.
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1 thought on “Character Analysis of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet | Romeo as a Tragic Hero”
As a former “English” major, I found this a rewarding read. I’ll have to check out your other posts. But not now. It’s way past my bedtime and I’m tired . . . but alas, not too tired to read about one of my favorite plays. Unfortunately, I lost my complete “writings of Shakespeare” during my last move — that and my Jane Austin complete works. Oh, well, just another excuse to buy a couple of books.
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Example Of How Is Romeo A Tragic Hero Essay
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Shakespeare , Love , Death , Poison , Hero , Romeo and Juliet , Literature , Theater
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1. Romeo is one of the tragic heroes of Shakespeare, who because of the various tragedies and circumstances committed suicide at the end of play. As we know that no human on the earth is perfect, every one is having some or other kind of flaws. Romeo is reflecting a personality who very quickly falls in love and who is having high pride and is not capable to take right decisions.
In the first act Romeo is in love with Rosaline, who rejected his proposal. When Romeo saw Juliet he instantly falls in love with her and decided to marry her on the same day. After their marriage Romeo murdered his enemy Tybalt. Because of the murder Romeo was driven out from Verona. After hearing news of death of Juliet he decided to come to Verona. On his way back to Verona he bought poison and After seeing dead Juliet Romeo consumed poison without knowing the fact that she was sleeping and her death was staged.
In the whole play, decisions taken by Romeo were without thinking about the consequences. Romeo’s wrong decisions got him into trouble and finally ended up with death of Romeo and Juliet.
2. Tragic hero represents a person who suffers a lot because of destiny and finally causes death of hero. Romeo was a tragic hero in the play. Throughout the play destiny played with Romeo and from falling in love with Juliet an enemy’s daughter to killing of Tybalt and finally poison consumption. In all these steps Romeo could have controlled himself but he did not think logically and without giving a thought of consequences he took all the decisions.
Romeo and Juliet could have been lived happier together if Romeo have not killed Tybalt and not consumed poison. His misfortune and irrational behavior took him and Juliet to the death.
Drama. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2011, from www.furman.weebly.com: http://furman.weebly.com/uploads/5/1/7/6/5176248/drama.pdf William Shakespeare and Janie B. Yates-Glandorf. (2004). Romeo and Juliet . Logan: Perfection Learning Corporation.
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Romeo: a tragic hero. Revision lesson with essay and full sample answer (AQA/OCR)
Age range: 14-16
Resource type: Assessment and revision
9 January 2024
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A super clear, colourful 50 slide powerpoint that covers the character of Romeo as a tragic hero in ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
There are plenty of opportunities for students to work individually, in pairs or small groups, depending on the class dynamics. There are sample answers for all tasks and engaging activities which help students improve their skills.
There is an essay question at the end with structured guidance to help the students annotate an extract and plan an answer. There are guided writing tasks as well to support students.
There is a full sample answer at the end.
This lesson takes 1-2 hours, depending on how much writing you ask the students to complete.
My students have found it engaging and really helpful. I hope yours do too!
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To what extent is Romeo a tragic hero?
“The fearful passage of their death-marked love” Even from the beginning of the play we know that the lovers are doomed to be struck by tragedy but to what extent is Romeo a tragic hero? Is he even one at all? In this essay I will explore the reasons why I do and why I do not think that Romeo is a complete tragic hero.
There are many things that make a tragic hero. He is an individual of some high rank or status. Romeo comes from a high status family, the Montagues who are at daggers drawn with a rival family the Capulets, the family that Juliet is from. The two families are both of equal status “Two households both alike in dignity”. We can tell that Romeo is from a high family because of a number of things. Firstly Romeo’s family have a number of servants, which suggests that they have money and power. You can also get clues from looking at Juliet’s family. Juliet is laid in the Capulet vault. A vault is something that only people of a high status would have to be the final resting place of the generations of the family. “The same ancient vault where all the kindred of the Capulets lie” It is therefore expected that Romeo’s family would have one too. Also Juliet has been raised by a nurse and it doesn’t seem like Lady Capulet has had much to do with it as she can’t cope with Juliet on her own “Nurse come back again”. Only people of high status could do this and as the two families are of equal status, Romeo must be an individual of high rank. He fits into this characteristic of a tragic hero. This makes him tragic, as it seemed that he could have anything, money, servants except a peaceful married life to Juliet. It is partly because of his status and family that it ends like it does. If he had been from another family would this have happened? It is his family name that helps cause the tragedy “Tis but thy name that is my enemy” You cannot help the family that you are born into and neither can Romeo alter the fact that he is a Montague but that name does not change who you are. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose would by any other word smell just as sweet.”
Romeo is still very young and so has not made a mark on Verona yet. This makes him more tragic because he has not had a chance to and will never get a chance to make his mark. His early death makes the audience feel more pity for Romeo. We can empathise with the characters because they are real people with good noble characteristics, but they are proved to be human as Romeo has a flaw in his character which is shown so many times in the play. For example he lets his emotions overcome him and does not think of the consequences. An example of this is when he kills Paris and Tybalt. Romeos’ flawed character and the tragedy in his life makes the audience feel sad for him, and feel his pain. It inspires us and we are moved by the hero’s plight as it feels like they can identify more with the characters pain. This is an example of catharsis, which is a characteristic of a tragic hero.
Throughout the play Romeo displays another trait of a tragic hero, he moves from happiness to disaster. The action moves towards catastrophe, all through the play we are given ominous signs that it will end in tragedy. The prologue tells you that the play will end with death “a pair of star-crossed lovers take their lives”. You also find out that the two families have been feuding for so many years, “from ancient grudge break new mutiny” that the love between the children of these families will find it hard to survive and it will end badly. This is tragic because even before the first page you know that the lovers are doomed and do not have a chance of it ending well. Everything is against them. Things seem to be going well as he has just married Juliet and is happy but then Tybalts death sparks off a chain of disasterous events.
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All throughout the play religious imagery is used especially when Romeo and Juliet speak to each other “this holy shrine the gentle sin is this”, “good pilgrim”, and “dear saint”, This religious imagery makes the two lovers seem innocent and also makes it much more serious and also is quite ominous as thinking about religion has a connotation with death. It is not a good sign that the language used throughout the play, particularly when they first meet, conjures images of death. Juliet also says “my grave is like to be my wedding bed”. This is ironic and tragic because she does die on her “ second wedding day” wearing her wedding dress. The imagery of death as her bridegroom keeps appearing throughout the play, “Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir, My daughter he hath wedded” this isn’t a good sign for them, as when the play was set marriage was for life, it was sealed and binding and once you were married that was it. So Juliet’s marriage to death makes it sound ominous because it sounds like there is no way that they can escape death. It is inevitable. There is lots of natural imagery of the universe and the elements “My bounty is as boundless as the sea” This shows that their love is very natural however Friar Lawrence uses a metaphor for the good and evil in the world which is ominous because he is saying that for everything good there is something evil to balance things out. The good of their love is set against the feud and out of the evil came good but out of their love there will be an evil to balance it out, as that is all part of nature. Because their love is so natural this makes you think that something bad will happen to it. There is also imagery of light and dark and good and evil. “So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows” and “what is her burying grave that is her tomb” Friar Lawrence is also referred to as “Ghostly sire” This is ominous as ghostly has a connotation with death. All of this language makes you feel everything is coming to this inevitable ending and that it is sealed so you can’t get away from it. Romeos’ fortune moves from good to disastrous the day after his wedding day. A fight starts between the two families Romeo tries to reach out the hand of peace to Tybalt, but Tybalt wants to keep fighting as he enjoys it. Tybalt kills Mecutio and Romeos kills Tybalt out of revenge. Romeo has now gone from the happiest day of his life, his wedding day, to being banished to Mantua, with lady Capulet wanting him dead. She is very vengeful and wants revenge for Tybalt’s death.
During the play Romeo ends up killing innocents. A good example of this is when Romeo kills Paris. Again this shows clearly the flaw in his character and proves him to be human.This is demonstraited again when he kills Tybalt out of revenge and because his emotions have got the better of him. It is a crime of passion. Paris seems particularly innocent because he knows nothing about Romeo and Juliet’s relationship. He has just been caught up and led along by Capulet to marry Juliet. Romeo kills Paris out of anger. The tragic hero isn’t completely virtuous and Romeo proves here that he fits into this characteristic of a tragic hero.
Romeo is definitely a victim of fate. He almost gives himself up to it, “but he that hath the steerage of my course direct my sail”, and surrenders himself to it. Right from the start Romeo is a tragic hero because he knows something bad will happen, he has predicted the future. He had a dream, which told him that something would begin the night of the party, that will have a very bad effect after it, “some consequence yet hanging in the stars shall bitterly begin this fearful date”. Romeo has misgivings but decides to let fate do whatever it wants and in that way he makes himself a victim of fate, as it seems that fate had tried to warn him. He trusts in fate but also tempts it. In Act 2 scene 6 Romeo shows that he believes he can overcome fate with his love, but he is being very arrogant in doing so This is ominous and he is tempting fate to test his happiness, He claims that no one can take it away from him as he has seen Juliet. “Then love-devouring Death do what he dare It is enough that I may call her mine” He has tempted fate and by the ending it is almost as though fate has answered him, and Tested his happiness as he asked it to. Again he has made himself the victim of fate. “ O I am fortunes fool”
Tragic heroes are involved in the struggle with fate, and as tragedy calls nothing accident it’s as though it’s all planned to end this way. It’s a moral story. This is what will happen if you are in this situation. All this makes him a tragic hero because after all he is still only human with flaws and he is struggling against an almighty force, which he could have no chance of beating. Fate can be blamed for their deaths. All throughout the play there are references of this “the yoke of inauspicious” Even the prologue suggests this “star-crossed lovers. The language used all points to this being a major influence in their deaths. Fate is such a big part in the play that when Juliet tempted it you knew that it was not a good sign. When Lady Capulet thinks that Juliet is crying over Tybalts' death Juliet and wishes Romeo dead Juliet not only agrees with her but she also makes a point of how she wants him dead too. “Indeed I never shall be satisfied With Romeo until I behold him-dead”. This is tempting fate and is not a wise thing to do. Again it is almost by the ending as though she got her wish of seeing him dead.
In some ways I think that Romeo is quite courageous and this is a quality demonstraited by tragic Heroes. He knows that the families are feuding, but when Tybalt tries to start a fight he stretches out the hand of peace to him. Mercutio, Romeos’ best friend really wants to fight Tybalt, “draw Benvolio and bid down their weapons” and Romeo shows courage by standing up to peer pressure by refusing to fight, even thought Mercutio will be disgusted by it, “O calm, dishonourable, vile submission” this is a very hard thing to do. He also shows the sort of courage when he kills himself. It is a very scary thing to do, but he overcomes his fear and does it. However you may feel about this, courage is about overcoming fear and showing bravery, and that is exactly what Romeo did. Particularly as Romeos always talks about his feelings and never does anything about them. An example of this is when he was in love with Rosaline he was always talking about love and dragging everybody else down. Romeo thinks he loves Rosaline but he speaks insincerely, which makes us think that he isn’t really in love.
Tragic Heros have some tragic flaw in their character and Romeo lets his feelings rule him, and this is the tragic flaw that kills him. He lets his emotions overtake him, and therefore rushes into things without thinking about them. He reacts too quickly. A good example of this is in Mantua when Balthasar tells him Juliet is dead and in half a page he goes from being happy to determining to kill himself. If he had had not rushed into this things might have been different, and Friar Lawrence might have been able to get word to Romeo about their plan. Romeo rushes into marriage to Juliet as well. Friar Lawrence thinks that he is going to fast and warns him to slow down, “Wisely and slow they stumble that run fast”. Romeo doesn’t listen and they get married anyway. This is part of the reason for his death and is another part of his flaw. He doesn’t listen to the warnings fate has given him either. He acts without thinking things through, without considering the consequences. When he kills Tybalt is a good example. Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin and a Capulet. He has just killed Mecutio Romeo’s best friend. When Romeo kills Tybalt he does it purely out of vengeance, it is a crime of passion. He has let his emotions control him, and doesn’t think. This leads to him being banished to Mantua, which leads to Juliet drinking the potion, which leads to their deaths. From here onwards everything goes wrong for the lovers. “This day’s black fate on moe days doth depend” Romeo did not want to kill Tybalt really as he offered the hand of peace. Romeo did not want to fight and doesn’t see the point in it. He didn’t set out intending to kill Tybalt; “And so good Capulet which name I tender as my own be satisfied” it was just his emotions that made him act that way. This shows Romeo isn’t completely virtuous, but not evil either. It also shows up his tragic flaw and the way he misjudges situations and reacts to quickly. This is the characteristic of a tragic hero. Romeo also believes love can so anything it wants to. He believes it won’t be found out or caught. This is what makes him sneak into the grounds to see Juliet. “With loves light wings did I o’erperch these walls for stony limits cannot hold love out” This is a metaphor for him being a bird, love is what got him here, and love is what makes him feel invincible. This is another part of his tragic flaw.
Romeo shows arrogance and hubris, he tempts fate a lot in the play.” Then I defy you stars” He takes Paris and Tybalts life, which isn’t appropriate for him to do. Romeo uses religious imagery, in religion life is regarded as sacred and should only be ended by the hand of God. It is not up to anybody else. Then for Romeo to commit two murders we feel like he is being very arrogant and tempting fate. He also marries Juliet without parental consent. This leads to her parents thinking she is free to marry Paris, which leads to her taking the potion ending in their death. Romeo also shows arrogance in taking his own life. He is doing what it isn’t natural to do,” thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open and in despite I’ll cram thee with more food”. Romeo personifies the vault saying it has stuffed its mouth with dead bodies, but he will force the doors open and add himself to the bodies. Cramming something with more food is not natural, and Romeo is doing this un- natural thing, he is being arrogant. This is a flaw in his character. If he was not arrogant he would not be able to kill himself and maybe things would have turned out differently.
Romeo by the end of the play has changed; he has grown up a lot. He seems older because he has found true love, and does not appear as young. He is also more understanding, as when Paris dies he asked to be placed with Juliet, and Romeo does this for him. He does not know about Paris’ marriage to Juliet so this action shows he has a heart and that he is capable of mercy and kindness, proving again that he is not completely virtuous nor evil. When he goes to see the apothecary he sees his need, paying his poverty, which proves he is caring. At the beginning when he talks about Rosaline it is hollow and not real love, “Thy love did read by rote, that could not spell” but by the end he knows what true love is and that real love acts it does not just speak. Romeo starts off innocent but by the end that has all changed as he has murdered two men.
Romeo talks in a grand poetic style as do most tragic heroes. Romeo and Juliet talk to each other in sonnets with rhyming couplets. If the characters speak in poetry they are usually high status characters. It makes them different and separates them out from the other characters like the servants and the nurse as they have a much lower status . When you read sonnets it sounds musical. Music is the food of love so it backs up the fact that Romeo and Juliet are in love and separates them out from the other characters who are not. Also when Romeo speaks in poetry it sounds as though all the words are just flowing and pouring out uncontrollably like all his emotions and feelings. This shows that Romeo is always letting his feelings run high and control him
As you can see, Romeo definitely is to some extent a tragic hero, but there are other factors to blame in the Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Tybalt can also be attributed some of the blame because of his love of fighting. He just finds any excuse to start a fight whereas Romeo tried to make peace with Tybalt and only ended up fighting because of his flawed character which makes him give in to emotion . This led to the death of Mercutio and then Tybalt. Romeos’ banishment, Friar Lawrence’s plan and then the Deaths of Romeo and Juliet then follow as a concequence of this. “I will withdraw but this intrusion shall now seemingly sweet convert to bitt’rest gall”
You could also say that it was chance. "Oh fortune, Fortune all men call thee fickle” Juliet personifies fortune saying that It is so fickle that no one knows what will happen to them in their lives so maybe no one can really be blamed for the events. There are lots of examples of this for example the accidental meeting of Peter with the invitation list to Capulet’s party and the non-delivery of Friar Lawrence’s letter “Unhappy fortune”
Adolescent passion could also be to blame. All throughout the play, things were rushed and hasty. They had only just met when they decide to get married. The opposition of youth and age demonstrates this. Romeos passion is evident “I stand on sudden haste” Romeo lets his passion control him as I stated earlier. Friar Lawrence even warns Romeo about he dangers of loving that passionately “These violent delights have violent ends” “Therefore love moderately, long love doth so too swift arrives as tardy as too slow” Romeo doesn’t listen to this advice and he is ruled by his passion for Juliet. Romeo’s hastiness and passion get the better of him when he kills Tybalt and that leads to their deaths
The feud could also be to blame. The two families struggle for power and the two families grow up hating each other. Tybalt feels that the “honour of my kin” has been insulted by Romeo’s presence at the feast. Because of this Mercutio dies and Romeo is provoked into "Fire-eyed fury” and enacts revenge upon Tybalt, which leads to their deaths. Also if the families were not feuding Romeo and Juliet would just have been able to share their love in the open and marry with the parental consent Apart from the feud they would probably Capulet and Lady Capulet would probably think Romeo a good match for Juliet as he was from a high status family just like the Capulets.
The two fathers also share a part in the blame. It seems that the fathers hold absolute sway over their daughters. They may give them to whomever they chose and are insulted if the daughters choose otherwise. Juliet makes that choice and incurs the wrath of Capulet “….go with Paris to Saint Peters church or I will drag thee on a hurdle hither!” He forces Juliet to marry Paris which makes her in desperation take the potion which leads to their deaths so in a way the male dominated society is to blame.
I believe that Romeo is a tragic hero as he displays throughout the play many characteristics of one. He is an individual of high status, the audience is moved by his plight, he has a tragic flaw in his character that leads to his death and shows arrogance. He also shows courage and is not completely virtuous nor evil and he is involved in a struggle with fate. However I also think that other factors like the male dominated society, the feud and fortune can be blamed for the death of Romeo and Juliet and that the other characters also played apart in this tragedy
Dawn grant 11s
- Word Count 3614
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- Subject English
Is Romeo a Tragic Hero?
To What Extent Were Romeo and Juliet to Blame for Their Tragic End?
Is Romeo a flawed hero?
Romeo as a Tragic Hero Essay Sample
A youthful innocence is sometimes plagued by the ignorance of others. Romeo has been subject to act through his life role of innocence backed by a poisonous conflict that ruled out his innocence for the sake of reputation. The William Shakesperan story of Romeo and Juliet is surely an agonizing play, where heroes and villains struggle for their own individuality and battle for their survival as well as honor. The tragic hero of the story is undoubtedly Romeo Montague, a young, naive teen who followed his heart. Romeo himself has shown how he can be a righteous person, where he has shown his courage, his innocence of intent in an oblivious, carefree world. Romeo demonstrates the qualities of a tragic hero through his hamartia known as his impulsiveness, catharsis; when families reconcile through a solution after death and display of an exceptional being through his good reputation.
Firstly, Romeo shows qualities of a tragic hero due to the particular reason of his hamartia, shown through his impulsive nature. One can interpret his impulsiveness not as a flaw but rather an attribute to his character. This flaw is a characteristic where he accumulates the strength and courage he needs to engage for the sake of another. The makeup of Romeo is further established by his courageousness when he uses his instincts to approach roles and rules set out by his society. It is his impulse to pursue his heart's desire in courting Juliet in favour of Rosaline. “What a change is here!/ is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,/ So soon forsaken? Young men's love then/lies/ Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.”(Shakespeare 2.3 66-69). Friar Lawrence says Romeo was able to get over Rosaline so fast because his “love” defaults on one's physical attractiveness; in other words the prettier the better. One can imagine, if Juliet was not to Romeo's liking, he would still be emotionally attached to Rosaline. This displays irony as although he claimed to be deeply in love with Rosaline, once he laid eyes on Juliet, his love for Rosaline was no more. It can be easily said that the affection Romeo possessed for Rosaline was no more than the ideal of love rather than true love itself. Romeo is a free spirit, he is able to overcome his remorse with undoubted confidence after seeing the beauty of Juliet.
Secondly, Romeo is a tragic hero due to his catharsis; the reconciliation of families through a solution after his death. When Romeo hears about the news of Juliet’s death through Benvolio, he is devastated. To cope with her death, he chooses to visit an apothecary and buy poison. Romeo returns to Verona, the place he is banished from and drinks the poison on Juliet's deathbed, unaware she will wake in a few hours. As a result, the moment Juliet wakes up and sees Romeo deceased, she uses his dagger to stab herself to death after attempting to drink poison off of his lips. They are later found resting together peacefully by Friar Lawrence. When news spreads and people begin to learn of this, the new information is brought to the attention of the prince. The remainder of the Capulet and Montague families decide to come together as one. After the death of their children, they came to a realization the constant arguing and conflict had caused the separation of two fated souls and the death of their children. “O brother Montague, give me thy hand./This is my daughter's jointure, for no more/Can I demand/But I can give thee more./For I will ray her statue in pure gold…”(5.3 313-318). In memory of Romeo and Juliet, Lord Montague and Lord Capulet rain a statue of pure gold in memory of the lovers. This describes as a catharsis because the characters experience purging emotions at the end of a tragedy.
Lastly, Romeo is a tragic hero because he is known throughout Verona as an exceptional being with a good reputation. Romeo was in love with Rosaline for quite some time but stopped pursuing her because she wishes to become a nun meaning she would keep her chastity. To his response, he believed it was a complete waste. In hopes to see Rosaline, Mercutio, Benvolio, and Romeo decide to attend the Capulet ball after seeing her name on the guest list. Tybalt, who was previously acquainted with Romeo noted his presence and immediately wished for him to be removed from the ball. Afterall, it is interpreted that Tybalt does not wish for peace amongst the feuding families, he feeds off of and supports the mutual hatred. Approaching the means for action, Tybalt complains of Romeo's presence to Lord Capulet. Lord Capulet responds, “Let him alone./He bears him like a portly gentleman/And, to say truth, Verona brags of him/To be a virtuous and well-governed/ youth.”(1.5 64-67). He tells Tybalt that Romeo shall not be forced out, this is because Lord Capulet does not want to be punished by the prince. This portrays irony as Romeo from the Montague family is not forced out as expected by Lord Capulet as the opposition. Instead, he is welcome because of his good behaviour and reputation. He wasn't causing any harm, therefore he was allowed to stay the while.
In conclusion, in the play “Romeo and Juliet” Romeo the protagonist is the perfect depiction of a tragic hero. He is able to possess many of the characteristics needed to define a traffic hero. As shown throughout the play, Romeo experiences a handful of ups and downs through his life's adventure. When it comes to losing his best friend, Mercutio, to marrying the love of his life, Juliet, he shows his capabilities in his ability to handle all situations courageously and with confidence. He proves this through his impulsiveness, reconciliation of families through a mutual solution and representation of an exceptional being amongst the city of Verona.
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Romeo and Juliet: Tragic Hero
Throughout the play, he tries his hardest to keep the peace. After his marriage to Juliet, Table tries to fight him and Romeo simply says, “l do protest never injured thee/But love thee better than thou cants devise/Till thou shall know the reason of my love. /And so, good Capulet, which name tender/As dearly as mine own, be satisfied,” (Shakespeare 3. 1 . 70-74). Romeo was trying to hint to Table about his marriage to Juliet. This shows that not even a threat of death could sadden Romeo on his day of happiness because of his marriage to his true love.
Secondly, Romeo may have good qualities but has many flaws. His biggest problem pertains to the way he looks at women, looking at their outer beauty and not inner worth. “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! ‘It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night/ As a rich jewel in an Ethiopia ear-,” (Shakespeare 1. 5. 51-53). Said Romeo speaking about Juliet he also comments, “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it sight, / For I newer saw true beauty till this night,” (Shakespeare 1. 5. 59-60). He falls in and out of love very fast. This tote shows his disparity and lack of depth.
Romeo’s thoughts of women only go skin deep, which is why he has a “player” status. His transgressions are widely known in the city of Verona. Romeos own Friar Lawrence says, “Is Rosalie, that thou didst love so dear, / So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies/ Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes,” (Shakespeare 2. 3. 70-72). The Friar is calling out Romeo as to the fact that he changes his love interest like the changing of the seasons. His falling in and out of love shows us his childish and irresponsible outlook on life.
Romeo also portrays himself as a complainer and as being self-centered. In a desperate attempt for his friend, Benevolent, to feel sorry for him he says, “Tutu, have lost myself. Am not here. / This is not Romeo. He is some other were,” (Shakespeare 1. 1. 205-206). Therefore, Romeo’s perfections, downfalls, and unfortunate death make him a mirror example of a tragic hero. William Shakespeare accurately illustrates the rushed and ill-advised ways of love. This young man went on a crusade to be with his one true love defines a young innocence and blind bravery.
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Essay: Juliet is the tragic hero of Shakespeare’s play
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Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo and Juliet , follows the two eponymous characters as they navigate the destruction and devastation true love can bring. Juliet begins as a wide-eyed, innocent young girl, merely 13 years old, yet throughout the course of the play, Shakespeare portrays the development of Juliet’s character indirectly through the language she uses, the language used about her and the relationships she forms with the other characters. Shakespeare often contradicts many of the accepted values of the Elizabethan era, such as the patriarchal society in which they live. Even from the very beginning of the play, it is clear that Juliet has a defiant, rebellious streak. Shakespeare presents this through the language and tone used in act 1, scene 3. When asked by her mother about marrying Paris, Juliet replies: ‘I’ll look to like, if looking liking move;’ meaning that she will obey her mother’s wishes and look out for Paris at the ball; however, she doesn’t expect to find true love and doesn’t intend to look for it. Shakespeare uses this language effectively, showing that she is forced to do what society expects of her; yet, she is becoming a strong, independent woman who can think and speak for herself. Juliet is shown to be a passionate, impulsive character at certain points in the play. Shakespeare uses soliloquies to allow us to see her thoughts and feelings. When she has been given the potion by Friar Lawrence that will send her to sleep, Juliet takes drastic action based on the strength and passion of her love for Romeo: ‘Romeo, Romeo, Romeo! Here’s drink – I drink to thee.’ Shakespeare’s repetition of Romeo’s name at an emphatic end position in the soliloquy shows that Juliet’s actions and impulsive, drastic decisions are for or about Romeo and their marriage. Additionally, where Romeo, before he commits suicide, has a long soliloquy in which he ponders how he has run out of options: ‘O, what more favour can I do to thee than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain to sunder that was thine enemy?’ Here, he asks what more he can do than kill himself. In contrast, Juliet says a few swift words before she fatally stabs herself: ‘O happy dagger, this is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die.’ Shakespeare uses this speech to highlight Juliet’s impulsive, passionate nature, showing that she didn’t take the time to consider every other action before death. This also emphasises the deep connection Romeo and Juliet had – the fact that there seemed no other option than for Juliet to die without Romeo. As well as being impulsive at points throughout the play, Juliet is intelligent and able to take a step back in order to think and evaluate her position. When talking to Romeo about her love for him, she describes her own feelings as: ‘too rash, too unadvised, too sudden.’ and their love as: ‘too like the lightning which doth cease to be’. This direct, concise language is a contrast to Romeo’s gushing, romantic vocabulary: ‘with love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold love out,’ and, whilst Romeo is ready to fall head-over-heels in love with Juliet, her use of the word ‘too’ shows that she is almost asking herself whether she has made the right decision, as she has had no experience with true love before. The comparison of their love to lightning shows her that as lightning is a force of nature, so is their love – they were meant to be together. Through the considerate language that is used, Shakespeare presents Juliet as an intelligent and self-aware character, but also someone who is caught up in a love affair that was always meant to happen, whether she wants it or not, as proven by the comparison of their love to a flash of lightning. Shakespeare also builds on the contrast between Romeo and Juliet , giving Juliet characteristics that in the Elizabethan era would typically be associated with men and masculinity. She says to Romeo, in talking about their love: ‘O swear not by the moon, th’inconstant moon,’ She tells him this as the moon is fickle and ever-changing, whilst Juliet wants to be sure that they will never hesitate to love one another. Here, Juliet is completely in control of the conversation, a position that would usually be held by a man. Moreover, at the time, the men were seen to be the ones who knew what to do and were able to take charge if something happened to go wrong. However, in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is the one who takes matters into her own hands by asking Friar Lawrence for the potion to send her into a deep sleep: ‘Give me, give me! O tell me not of fear.’ Finally, she kills herself in a violent, sudden manner – stabbing herself with a sword. This can be seen as the more ‘male’ of the two ways to commit suicide. As well as Juliet taking over the traditional masculine role, we also see Romeo adopting a more feminine attitude. In act 3, scene 3, Friar Lawrence makes a comment: ‘Art thou a man? … Thy tears are womanish,’ and in one of the final scenes, Romeo uses a softer, less brutal way to end his life: drinking poison. Shakespeare presents Juliet as a victim of the society in which she lives, meaning that her relationships with the people around her – Lord and Lady Capulet, and her Nurse, help to shape the person she becomes over the short four-day period of the play. Her impulsiveness and impatience are mirrored by her own father’s. Before the Juliet is due to get married to Paris, Capulet moves the wedding forward from a Thursday to a Wednesday: ‘Send for the county, go tell him of this. I’ll have the knot knit up tomorrow morning.’ This shows his impatience, and his impassioned outburst at Juliet, after she tells him she does not wish to marry Paris, shows his impulsive reaction upon hearing the news. Juliet may have been influenced by her father’s qualities, which could explain the impulsive, rash decisions she makes throughout the play. Shakespeare presents these character parallels to demonstrate the effect Juliet’s upbringing and surroundings have had on her future. Juliet’s nurse acts ‘in loco parentis’, having taken care of Juliet since she was a young child. It was very common in noble families at the time to have a distant, formal relationship between mother and daughter, so this situation would have been familiar and well recognised among a Shakespearean audience. However, Juliet and the nurse have conflicting views on love, and what it means to be in love. When talking about this, the nurse states: ‘A man, young lady! lady, such a man as all the world – Why, he’s a man of wax.’ This shows that the Nurse’s priority is that Juliet is married to a handsome gentleman, whether they are truly in love or not. She then goes on to make crude jokes and innuendos about love and sex: ‘No less! nay, bigger women grow by men.’ By this, the nurse is referring to pregnancy. Shakespeare here shows that the nurse thinks of love as mainly about sex and looks, so when Juliet fell deeply in love with Romeo, she was clueless as neither her nurse nor her parents had prepared her. This naivety and vulnerability in love shaped the actions and decisions she made later on in the play. Romeo compares Juliet to the sun; bright and brilliant: ‘Juliet is the sun.’ He commands Juliet to ‘kill the envious moon,’ implying that the Diana, the Goddess of virginity, who was always personified as a moon in ancient Roman mythology, is jealous of her, and that she should lose her virginity to him. In act 1, scene 1, Romeo describes Rosaline by saying: ‘she hath Dian’s wit;’ likening her to Diana. By saying that Juliet makes her jealous, we see how great Romeo’s love for Juliet is. Furthermore, Romeo describes Juliet’s eyes as: ‘Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven’ and goes on to say: ‘her eyes in heaven would through the airy region stream so bright’ Here, he is saying that Juliet has the ability to brighten even the darkest nights, and for Romeo, Juliet is a shining light in a world and society that is otherwise dark and dull. Shakespeare presents Juliet as captivating and life-changing to Romeo through the language and imagery he uses. Juliet is a character who defies the patriarchal values of Elizabethan society in the play. In Elizabethan England, the father had the right to decide whom his daughter would marry, and marriage at the time was seen as an act of business between the two families, rather than an act of love. It is suggested that Juliet marry Paris, a young nobleman of Verona: ‘The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.’ Later, Juliet begs her father for her not to marry Paris, to which he responds furiously: ‘Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!’ As he is the patriarch of the family, Lord Capulet believes that his daughter must obey his every command and is shocked when Juliet goes against his wishes. Furthermore, she is the one to initiate the idea of marriage between her and Romeo: ‘If that thy bent of love be honourable, Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow,’ Society then, and even society today, dictates that the man is the one in a relationship who proposes marriage. For an Elizabethan audience, especially women at this time, seeing a young woman defy the patriarchal society would have been refreshing and inspiring. Overall, it can be said that Juliet is the tragic hero of the play, with her tragic flaw being her loyalty to Romeo. Her love for him is so deep and great that when he died, she had to die too, in order to be with him. At only 13 years old, Juliet stands between adolescence and maturity. We see glimpses of her defiant and decisive attitude from the beginning of the play, and these traits develop and become a more prominent part of who she is. Ultimately, the events that take place over the four-day period in which the play is set propel her into adulthood, even if she is never truly ready to handle the pressure and responsibility that comes with such powerful destructive love. Shakespeare presents Juliet’s characteristics and builds them up throughout the play effectively, and an Elizabethan audience would have been inspired and interested by a unique young female character who defies the traditional patriarchal stereotypes of society at the time. However, even though there was a largely patriarchal society, the Monarch at the time was Elizabeth I, a strong woman who ruled successfully without a husband. 2019-3-10-1552207540
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