Dramatic Irony in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

800 Words4 Pages
Shakespeare uses irony to great effect in his many plays, specifically dramatic irony, and some cosmic irony, in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. But why does he use it? What is he trying to achieve or portray? It varies throughout the play, but there are general trends as the story develops. In the beginning we see that it is almost comical uses. The irony then develops into more interesting and intriguing uses meant to keep the audience, especially the groundlings, interested and wanting more. And then finally, he uses dramatic irony to point out some of the reasons why this is a tragedy during and before the climax.

In the beginning you see irony without much apparent consequence, which can be seen as amusing in some views and helped to draw people in. Some examples of this would be Romeo and Juliet talks to each other and fall in ?love? before realizing that their parents apparently hate each other. Another example is when Juliet?s nurse comes to talk to Romeo about Juliet, and the friends of Romeo mock her thinking her another stranger. Both of these and other ironies in the opening acts are meant to be entertaining and to keep the groundlings happy, along with other factors, while at the same time setting the stage for the play to become a tragedy, and slowly starting to shift to a more depth as the play progresses.

In the center, specifically act three you see the use of irony to be more serious, often trying to lightly foreshadow and keep the audience interested. From Tybalt aggravating Mercutio and then Romeo with his death, after Romeo seemingly feels and professes ?love? for him due to his very recent secret marriage to Tybalt?s cousin, Juliet. Shortly after Tybalt?s death Romeo is banished due to his, a...

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...e party, to Romeo killing Tybalt right after marrying his cousin and talking about his love for Tybalt, to Laurence?s message about the plan being delayed due to a cruel twist of fate. Not only does Shakespeare use cosmic irony in this play, he makes the characters, especially Romeo again, put their faith in the gods who then appear to betray him with a list of unlucky coincidences that help lead to his downfall.

The use of irony has a great effect on the plot and characters in Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare managed to use dramatic irony for various purposes throughout the play that drastically help the build up of conflict, tension, and emotions. His use of cosmic irony after the protagonists put faith in fate adds a cruel twist into the story that helps to enrich the play and develop the characters. It is amazing how he manages to merge it all into the play.
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