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Romeo's Tragic Downfall Essay

914 words - 4 pages

On the surface, Romeo & Juliet is a simple tragic love story: boy meets girl, they fall in love, time elapses, things go wrong, and an end is met. But if you ask why was the end met, well there's where you get into the details of the story and the individual aspects of the mostly nondescript characters, in particular Romeo himself. Look into his ridiculously romantic lines, and you'll notice either the flaw in his character, the mistake he made, or the way fate plays with its toys.
From the text itself, you can glean all three ideas of how Romeo fell from atop his tower of happiness and love, but the prologue states crystal clear as crystal that:

Two households, both alike in dignity/
(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene),/
From ancient grudge breaks new mutiny,/
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean./
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes/
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;/
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows/
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife./
The fearful passage of their death-marked love/
And the continuance of their parents' rage,/
Which, but their children's end, naught could remove,/
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;/
The which, if you with patient ears attend,/
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.(Prologue)

It says in plain English that the children of the fighting foes will die to end the malice between the families. It also says that nothing else could have possibly brought the peace to the Montagues and the Capulets. Shakespeare makes it painfully obvious that fate is not looking down on the two kids with kindness. He blames nothing but fate for the death of the two young and delightfully naive lovers.
Despite Shakespeare's intentions, people have always had their own ideas about what exactly caused Romeo and Juliet's deaths. Two directors, Zeffirelli and Luhrman, were no exception. They created similar, although entirely different versions of the play in question.
Zeffirelli's version showed Romeo in a forgiving light, making it seem like he had simply made a hamartia. Zeffirelli handed Romeo the reigns on his and Juliet's relationship when he had the actress playing Juliet act naive and innocent. He then made Romeo confident and cocky in the balcony scene and played even more on her naivety, making it seem like ordinary hormonal teenage lust. When it came to the fight scene, the joking attitude during the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt suggests that if Romeo had not interfered, all would have turned out all right. This idea continued into the funeral of Juliet. The play up until there had a playful and joyous tone, but when it came to her lying there, supposedly dead, the whole play...

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