Romeo and Juliet: Romeo – A Tragic HeroShakespeare is a well known author who wrote in the 1500’s. Many of hisplays are classified as tragedies. According to the Oxford dictionary ofcurrent English, a tragedy is described as a serious disaster or a sad event.
In Shakespeare plays, tragedy is identified as a story that ends unhappily dueto the fall of the protagonist, which is the tragic hero. For a play to be atragedy, there must be a tragic hero. In the play Romeo and Juliet, Romeo isthe tragic hero. The theme of tragedy plays a great role in the play Romeo andJuliet. By analyzing Romeo’s tragic flaw, his noble birth, his series of poordecisions, the suffering of Romeo that extends beyond himself, it is evidentthat Romeo and Juliet is classified as a tragedy.
A person must posses certain qualities that classify one as a tragichero. One of these qualities is the noble birth of a character. In the playRomeo and Juliet Romeo being the tragic hero, possesses that quality. Romeo isa Montague, and in the city of Verona the Montagues are a well known andrespected family. It is a known fact that the Montagues are of noble birth whenit is said by Benvolio in Act 1, Scene 1, Line 141: “My noble uncle.” Benvoliois referring to Lord Montague, who is the father of Romeo. The Montagues arealso a rich family, and that is one of the reasons for the respect for Romeo.
“Verona brags of him… a bears him like a partly gentleman.” This was said byLord Capulet in Act 1, Scene 5, Lines 65-66. This quote illustrates that evenRomeo’s enemies know well of him and know that he is respected and talked aboutby the citizens of Verona. Usually when a character is introduced as beingnoble, the audience is aware that in the end of the play, the character willhave a tragic fall.
Another necessary quality possessed by a tragic hero is the hero’stragic flaw, which in Romeo’s case is falling in love too quickly and deeply. “To seek a tragic flaw in either Romeo or Juliet is a foolish and futile.” -comments Harold Goddard, a critic from the book: ” Modern critical views,William Shakespeare the Tragedies.” Goddard supports the idea that having atragic flaw is a part of being a tragic hero. Another critic states that ” ifRomeo’s character does have a tragic flaw, it is youthful impetuosity; an olderor more deliberate man might somehow have managed to avoid the quarrel and wouldnot rush to kill himself as soon as he believed that Juliet was dead.” ( PhillisRackin, author of ” Shakespeare Tragedies.”)In the play Romeo and Juliet romeo’stragic fall being he falls in love too quickly and too deeply, brings him to anawful end. In the beginning of the play one is introduced to Romeo being deeplyand hopelessly in love with Rosaline. However Rosaline does not feel the sameway about Romeo. This is when Romeo is unhappy and says to Benvolio: “Nothaving that which makes having short.” ( Act 1, Scene 1, Line 162). This verywell illustrates how deeply Romeo was in love with Rosaline. In the next scenethe audience realize that Romeo ha fallen for another, which is Juliet. “For Ine’er saw true beauty till this night.” -Said by Romeo in Act 1, Scene 5, Line52.The audience can quickly identify Romeo’s flaw of falling in love too quicklyand deeply when he forgets about his feelings for Rosaline and concentrates onJuliet. Juliet too realizes that Romeo’s love for her was too fast when shesaid : “It is too rash, too undvis’d, too sudden.”( Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 117-118). Having a tragic flaw could be foreshadowing of the fall of the tragichero.
Rome being the play’s tragic hero makes a series of poor decisions. Thefirst decision of many was going to the Capulet’s party. ” Direct my sail! Ohlusty gentlemen.” Says Romeo in Act 1, Scene 4, Line 113. If Romeo did not goto the party he would not have met Juliet. It was unnecessary for Romeo to tryto stop the fight between Tybalt and Mercutio. If Romeo did not try to stop thefight, Mercutio would not have been killed, and the fight between Romeo andTybalt would not have existed. Romeo says in Act 3, Scene 1, Line 94 : “Courage, man; the hurt can not be much.”, when he tries to stop the fightbetween Tybalt and Mercutio. Romeo makes the wrong choice when he decides tofight Tybalt for the death of Mercutio. “Either thou, or I, or both, must gowith him.”( Act 3, Scene 1, Line 1290. This quote refers to Romeo’s challengefor Tybalt. If Romeo did not fight Tybalt he would not have been banished fromVerona. Another one of Romeo’s poor decisions was the decision to commitsuicide, which was also his last decision. “O true apothecary, thy drugs arequick, thus with a kiss I die.” Said Romeo in Act 5, Scene 3, Line 120, rightbefore he died. If only Romeo decided not to drink the poison he would havebeen alive to see Juliet wake. All these decisions caused Romeo, the tragichero, to end his life tragically.
The suffering of the tragic hero also extends beyond himself. Due tothe actions of Romeo, Mercutio and Tybalt died. “When he tries to make peacebetween them and Mercutio is fatally wounded, Romeo remarks pathetically ‘Ithought out for the best.’ “- Comments Phillis Rackin author of ShakespeareTragedies. “Mercutio’s soul is but a little way above our heads”, remarks Romeoafter Mercutio’s death, caused by Romeo. Tybalt’s death also results fromRomeo’s poor actions. After Romeo’s death Lady Montague dies of a heart attack.
Lord Montague says to the Prince in Act 5, Scene 3, Line 209: “Alas my leige, mywife is dead tonight.” Because of Romeo, Juliet decides upon her own death.
She argues with her father, drinks the potion, and later stabs herself, all forthe love for Romeo. Verona’s peace is disturbed by all the commotion of thefights between the Capulets and the Montagues, caused mainly by Romeo. There isstill no peace in the streets of Verona. The families of both Romeo and Julietsuffer over the loss of their children, and everyone is unhappy. Since Romeobrought suffering upon people rather than himself, he is truly the tragic heroand makes the play Romeo and Juliet a tragedy.
It is obvious that in the play Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is the tragichero. This is evident when the audience see Romeo’s noble birth, his tragicflaw, series of poor decisions he made and the fact that through his actions hebrought suffering upon other people. Most plays, stories or novels have a moral.
The moral of Romeo and Juliet is not to rush into things like love, hate andimportant decisions. All people should think twice about every decision theyare making. From all the evidence stated in this paragraph along with theparagraphs above it is said that Romeo and Juliet is classified as a tragedy.
WORKS CONSULTEDBloom, Nasold. Modern critical views. William shakespeare the Tragedies.1985Rackin, Phillis. Shakespeare’s Tragedies. 1978Brodley, A.C. Shakespearian Tragedy. 1986Oxford school Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet. 1982