The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

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Aristotle defined a tragedy as “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude with incidents arousing pity and fear.” His model of a true tragedy was the basis for modern tragedies. Considered one of the greatest writers of all time, William Shakespeare wrote many tragedies that are still performed today. His most famous is the twisted love story of Romeo and Juliet. While their tale is the quintessential love story, Romeo and Juliet’s love eventually causes their own destruction. Sounds like a real tragedy. However, many critics argue that Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is merely tragic rather than a tragedy as defined by Aristotle. The play does not follow the Aristotelian model enough for it to be deemed a tragedy. Due to the many tragic flaws present in the characters, the moral clarification of the audience rather than the characters and the fact that the lovers’ ultimate demise is caused by fate, Romeo and Juliet is simply a tragic story rather a tragedy. A tragedy blames a character’s tragic flaw for their doom but, Romeo and Juliet have many flaws that contribute to their demise. Romeo’s belief in fate forces him to believe that he has no control over his own destiny. He feels that misfortune is inevitable and there is no way for him to prevent unfortunate events from occurring. There is evidence of this in the Act I. Before entering the Capulet party, Romeo pauses for a moment to explain how he feels that “some consequence yet hanging in the stars shall bitterly begin his fearful date” (I, i, 107) and that misfortune will soon enter is life “by some vile forfeit of untimely death. (I, i, 111). Romeo has this gut feeling that his death is approaching if he attends th... ... middle of paper ... ...ith either of them; Romeo and Juliet have no interest in the feud. They simply hate the other’s family to please their parents. Also, Juliet is unfortunately stuck in an engagement. However, she is married anyway. The abundance of tragic flaws, the lack of a true catharsis and the fact that the doom is due to fate makes Romeo and Juliet tragic rather than a tragedy. Romeo’s faith in fate, Juliet’s innocence and the perfection of their love are all problems that lead to their dooms. There is no one character flaw that the tragic end can be pinned upon. The moral, intellectual and emotional enlightenment in the audience rather than in the characters proves there is no catharsis present in the play. And finally, the double suicide of Juliet and Romeo is due to fate. Circumstances, accidents and events out of the lovers’ control contribute to their deaths.

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