loins'. From this we might think that Romeo and Juliet is an
unrelenting tragedy. Yet the first Act has many humorous moments.
Consider the balance of tragedy and comedy in Act one, concluding
whether it is on the whole humorous of tragic.
As defined by Aristotle, 'tragedy evokes pity and fear in the
audience.' On the other hand, comedy evokes pleasure and laughter. Act
One is highly comical with absurd characters, and humorous language.
However from the outset, the audience is on notice that the play is a
tragedy, not least because the play begins with a dark and tragic
Prologue. The Prologue contains dark imagery such as 'civil blood
makes civil hands unclean,' and,'from ancient grudge break to new
mutiny'. It also describes a 'pair of star crossed lovers' who, 'with
their death bury their parents strife'. This creates dramatic irony
amongst the audience, in that however amusing the comic aspects in the
rest of the play, ultimately the audience knows that tragedy will
Act One develops in the following way.
In Act One, many comic events are established to the reader. Many of
these events are ironic to the audience. One example of this, is in
Scene 4, when a servant to Capulet, invites Romeo, a Montague, to a
major party at the Capulet's house,
"Now I'll ...
... middle of paper ...
...d they are shown to be brainless
On the other hand, not all the characters in Romeo and Juliet are
comic. It is highly tragic, for example, that the two, 'star-crossed
lovers,' are from separate feuding households. As well as this, it is
vastly tragic that the audience knows the fate of Juliet, as this
makes the character of Lord Capulet very tragic, as we know that
Juliet is his last hope.
From the beginning of the first act, it is hard to determine whether
or not Shakespeare meant the play to be a comedy of tragedy. However,
it is my belief that the play is a clear tragedy, not least because of
the language, characters and events, but because from the outset, it
has been pre-empted that the play was meant to be a tragedy, not least
because the play is entitled the 'Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.
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