Differences in the Tragedies of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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Shakespeare is able to create new type of character that does not rely on the definition of hero in the classical tradition. He is able to create a multidimensional heroic disposition that allows his male characters to have intellect while also having physical strength. Shakespeare’s tragedies of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet illustrate two very different conceptions of tragedy. Hamlet is a story about revenge, with a need for the truth to be reveled at all costs. Romeo and Juliet centers around innocence, soiled by prejudice of family conflict. The story surrounds the main characters, but the minor foils of each play give a deeper meaning to the actions of Romeo, Juliet and Hamlet. Benvolio and Tybalt are each trying to serve and protect their families. Laertes and Horatio will act in the manner that will allow the truth to be reviled, as the truth is the ultimate goal. Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are tragedies that end in death. The foils of Laertes and Horatio compared to Benvolio and Tybalt are able to portray the fatal flaws of of the heroes while also defining the differences of each tragedy. Laertes is seen as a man of action that does not think about the consequences. When finding out about his father’s death he proves his spontaneity by declaring, “I dare damnation. To this point I stand/That both the worlds I give to negligence. Let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged. Most thoroughly for my father” (Hamlet. IV.i.107-109). At a moment’s thought he is willing to burn in hell forever. This old-style nobility allows him to become a pawn to King Claudius and in his plan to murder Hamlet. Horatio is Laertes’ foil because he thinks and weighs each situation. The scholar has a strong code of honor and ethics that pushes him ... ... middle of paper ... ...Shakespeare's Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are two of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. They are able to portray two very different types of tragedies. Hamlet is a revenge play, that focuses on the intricacy of action. Romeo and Juliet tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers that are unable to be together because of the poison that runs through Verona. Horatio and Benvolio are both honest men, who rely on thought and the truth to prevail. Laertes and Tybalt are quick tempered men of action, who eventually die. Each pair of foils is able to demonstrate that the lessons learned from those who have died should not be repeated. We must balance the irrational, quick decisions with logical, scholarly thought. Shakespeare ends his plays with a bleak future for the characters, but look into a hopefully better future if one can learn from the past’s mistakes.
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