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Romeo and Juliet: A True Tragedy

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Romeo and Juliet: A True Tragedy

An Aristotelian tragedy consists of several different aspects. In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the main characters contain a tragic flaw, or hamartia, that contributes to their fall from esteem or regal status. Additionally, the audience experiences pity and fear evoked by Shakespeare for the duration of the play. Furthermore, the two star-crossed lovers undergo a catastrophe at the end of the tragedy, where the characters meet a tragic and horrendous death. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a true Aristotelian tragedy because both Romeo and Juliet possess a tragic flaw, a catastrophe takes place in which both characters meet a tragic death, and the audience is aroused with pity and fear.

Romeo’s tragic flaw impetuousness causes him to make decisions quickly, which contributes to his tragic death. Romeo acts with haste when he marries Juliet, even though he does not even know her for twenty-four hours. Juliet tells Romeo, “It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden, / Too like the lightning” (II, ii, 118-119). One can see that even Juliet recognizes Romeo’s impetuousness and questions if they are moving their relationship forward too quickly and hastily. Romeo allows his anger to guide his actions and this gets him into trouble many times throughout the play. One example of this is immediately after Tybalt kills Mercutio. Romeo is so devastated by his friend’s death that he does not think clearly and acts impulsively. Normally, Romeo does not attack Tybalt, but in this situation, Mercutio’s death angers him and is ravenous for revenge. Romeo regrets killing Tybalt and even discerns his flaw when he says, “Oh, I am fortune’s fool!” (III, i, 130). Romeo realizes that he should not have...

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...re causes the audience to feel pity and fear for Romeo and Juliet throughout the play. Undoubtedly, Romeo and Juliet is a bona fide Aristotelian tragedy because it contains hamartia, catharsis, and a tragic catastrophe.

Works Cited

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Cowen Orlin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. 115-125.

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CLS267: Greek Tragedy. November 1999. College of New Rochelle. 19 May

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Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Prentice Hall Literature:

Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. Ed. Kate Kinsella, et al. Upper Saddle River:

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Thrasher, Thomas. Understanding Romeo and Juliet. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2001.
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