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Sense Of Tragedy And Foreboding In Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet

2550 words - 10 pages

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 a sense of anxiety and
impatience for the audience, as they have heard him being talked about
but haven’t yet met him. Romeo is a very sensitive character as he
embodies love and youth. He portrays this sensitivity when he does
turns down a fight with Tyblat, instead he tells him that he loves his
name. ‘But love thee better than thou can’st devise.’ As Romeo loves
Juliet, Tybalt’s cousin Romeo uses this to tell Tybalt that he loves
his name. As he is a very young character, this makes an impact on the
play. His immature actions of his age are highlighted throughout the
play. Romeo’s actions add to the strong sense of rushing. In addition
he puts his fate into God’s hands. This shows that he is unreliable
and does not believe in himself. Romeo’s thoughts prove that he has a
strong instinct of his awaiting doom. Due to these thoughts, it makes
the audience feel extreme tension. For example, Romeo knew that
something bad would happen at the party, therefore he tried to stall
going, ‘And we mean well in going to this masque. But ‘T is no wit to
go.’ He tried to stall because he didn’t really want to go and he was
putting it off for as long as he could.


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