Sense of Tragedy and Foreboding in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

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Sense of Tragedy and Foreboding in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

In the play, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates an impending sense

of tragedy and foreboding. He uses a variety of devices to provoke

this, such as themes, language and tone. To begin the sense of tragedy

and foreboding he introduces characters caught in a sensitive

conflict. The audience of the performance are very aw are that the

genre of the play is a tragedy; therefore they have expectations for

something traumatic to happen, such as death, doom and a disaster.

Shakespeare succeeds in meeting these expectations by including

several parallels in his performance. Parallels are events that

foreshadow a later, more tragic incident of the play and are used to

add suspense even in act 1 to create a sense of foreboding and


In a classic, tragic tradition, Shakespeare highlights the main

characters by naming the play Romeo and Juliet. Therefore the audience

are aware of who the main characters are, who will lose their lives,

at the beginning of the play. Before these two characters are

introduced, the audience find themselves becoming impatient to meet


A traditional Elizabethan audience would have much higher expectations

of doom and disaster, as they had very strong beliefs in fate and

fortune. Elizabethans believed that the stars mapped out their lives

for them. It was, they felt, wrong to go against what your destiny

intended. Subsequently the audience would feel very anxious about

Romeo and Juliet’s references to malign fate.

Romeo is a very important character to the play. He is not introduced

until nearer the end of Act 1. This creates ...

... middle of paper ...

...nd foreboding

which has been created throughout the whole play is finally all pulled

together in a very intense ending, where the two lovers both commit

suicide because of a rushed mistake. The audience feel a great sense

of tragedy as the death of the lovers would not have happened if they

had an extra few minutes.

Shakespeare succeeds to create an impending sense of tragedy and

foreboding by using a variety of successful devices. For example, he

wrote in different moods within a scene, also he included a very

important prologue at the beginning of the play. Furthermore,

Shakespeare’s adds to his technique by writing parallels and echoes to

portray this important sense of foreboding. All of the contrasting

styles which Shakespeare adopts in his writing contribute to the

tension building in this outstanding play.
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