Romeo and Juliet: A True Tragedy

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A tragedy imitates the emotional events of life by showing instead of telling. It does not have to be an exact replication of life, but instead have some realistic aspects to it. This type of play is special because an event in the plot is caused by a preceding choice or action performed by the character. Therefore, unlike a story where occurrences are caused by coincidences, a tragedy must have events that inescapably connect to one another as a result of the characters’ choices. Consequently, this idea of cause and effect must direct the plot of the play until the protagonists have an unfortunate end. Thus, the audience watching the tragedy will experience fear and pity for the characters since their actions will lead to their dramatic downfall. Similarily, William Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet, conveys these fundamental ideas, but it mainly emphasizes on certain tragic concepts. These components, explained by Aristotle, certainly make this play a quintessence of tragedy. They support the chain of events in Romeo and Juliet by using character traits and majors events to connect the plot and illustrate how the characters create their own ending. For this reason, Romeo and Juliet is a genuine tragedy because of its use of significant, tragic elements; tragically-flawed protagonists; and inevitable fate.

Throughout the play there are many, highlighted tragic elements used to show how Romeo and Juliet’s lives are dramatically shaped into a tragedy. One important element is the anagnorisis: the point of time when a main character finally realizes that one of his decisions went too far, yet he is unable to fix it. For instance, when Romeo kills Tybalt out of pure abhorrence he responds regretfully, “O, I am fortune’s fool!” (III, ...

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...s that could be present in daily life. Hence, Romeo and Juliet may have some fictional components, but it still has the ability to mimic life, as explained by Aristotle.

Works Cited

Kerschen, Lois. “Critical Essay on Romeo and Juliet.” Drama for Students. Vol. 21. Ed. Anne Hacht. Detroit: Gale, 2005. 258-261.

McManus, Barbara. “Outline of Aristotle’s Theory of Tragedy in the POETICS.” CLS267: Greek Tragedy. November 1999. College of New Rochelle. 20 May 2010. < http://www.>.

Moulton, Richard. "Innocence and Pathos: The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet." Drama for Students. Vol. 21. Ed. Anne Hacht. Detroit: Gale, 2005. 271-273.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Prentice Hall Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. Ed. Kate Kinsella, et al. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2002. 770-874.