A Sense Of Tragedy In The Final Scene Of Romeo And Juliet

2265 words - 9 pages

A Sense of Tragedy in the Final Scene of Romeo and Juliet

The Oxford English dictionary defines tragedy as

1) A play in which the main protagonist falls to disaster through the
combination of a personal failing and circumstances which they cannot

Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy because both characters kill themselves
to show how much they love each other, even though that love is
forbidden. Romeo and Juliet is different from other plays of
Elizabethan times as Shakespeare made the play about a type of love
that is positive as opposed to the type of love shown in the revenge
tragedy plays of the era. Revenge tragedies include 'The Duchess of
Malfi' by Webster, 'The Spanish Tragedy' by Kyd and 'Tamberlaine' by

The genre revenge tragedy is based on murder and revenge. The murders
are normally depicted in excruciating detail. Themes of this genre
include social, political and religious interests of the Elizabethan

In addition to this, the theme of parental control and the rebellion
of their children to an extent can and did determine the ending as
both Romeo and Juliet betrayed their parents which was, in the
Elizabethan era, a major crime which was comparable to treason.

If Shakespeare had written the play in such a way that the main
characters lived "happily ever after", it would have been censored as
it goes against the natural order of time. At the start of the play,
there is stability as both the children obey their parents. When they
meet, the equilibrium is disrupted and they start to disobey their
parents and their beliefs by breaking the "ancient grudge" set by the
two families Montague and Capulet. Worse still, the two children of
the warring families marry in secret. These events force Shakespeare
to kill both Romeo and Juliet, as Elizabethan audiences would not have
accepted anything else.

One way in which Shakespeare creates a sense of tragedy is by letting
the audience realises parts of the plot that the characters are
unaware of. This method of writing culminates in the final scene,
which makes it tragic as the audience hungers for the characters to
realise the full plot.

Firstly the audience is shown that Juliet is not dead but in a state
of comatose. This makes the audience apprehensive on how this
information will be shown to Romeo. Also this is ironic as Juliet is
led to believe that Romeo has died in Act 3 as oppose to Tybalt, "Hath
Romeo slain himself…is Romeo slaughtered? (Act3 sc2 p105)" The
audience know that Juliet is not dead as they witnessed her and Friar
Lawrence devise the plot. The audience also see the Friar write and
send the letter outlining the plan to Romeo, and see the Friar hand it
to his friend Friar John. This makes the play more tragic as the
audience know that Romeo will commit suicide, and...

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