Romeo and Juliet a tragedy?

Romeo and Juliet a tragedy?

5) Is Romeo and Juliet a tragedy? Discuss the genre elements.

Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, tells the story of two “star-crossed lovers” 1 (Prologue 6) who give their lives for love. Although this first limited presentation of the play may reveal its tragic essence, the feeling of tragedy may not be obvious from the beginning considering that there seems to be no apparent tragedy until Mercutio’s death. This is one of the aspects from the play that may cast doubt when classifying the play regarding its genre.

Taking as theoretical background Aristotle’s Poetics, where he defines tragedy as “the imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude…and which must have six parts namely, Plot, Character, Diction, Though, Spectacle and Song ”2 , Romeo and Juliet can be considered a tragedy. Even so, some influence from Seneca may led the audience to identify the play partly with a kind of melodrama.

On the one hand, Romeo and Juliet follows Aristotle’s principle of diction as it follows a metrical arrangement of words and of spectacle as there is an emotional attraction. Additionally, the mode of imitation is also followed as the action that is being imitated is serious, complete and certainly of a great magnitude because it involves the suicide of two adolescents who are involved in a mayor family conflict and that could be regarded as one cause of their suicide.

The play also creates the effect of pity from the beginning and throughout it, as the audience reaches the conclusion that a happy ending is not bound to happen as it is known the main characters life’s would be taken “By some vile forfeit of untimely death”3 (Romeo:I.IV.111) Premonitions can be found all over the script as they are permanent reminders of the main character’s final destiny. For instance Benvolio’s line that reads “Blind is his love and best fits the dark”(BenvolioII.I.32) is making clear reference to Romeo’s blind love and passion for Juliet and...

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