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The Tragic hero

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For my English coursework I have been asked to study the famous play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ it is about two star crossed lovers destined to die. Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s domestic tragedies not a political tragedy like ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Hamlet’, the difference is that a domestic tragedy affects only those involved or close family or friends, but a political tragedy affects a whole nation. An example of a political tragedy would be, Macbeth because he had to kill so many people to make sure he didn’t get caught killing the king that it leads to him being attacked by his own army.

A tragic hero should be of high but not perfect standing, Romeo acquires this characteristic, We know this because he is well thought of by his enemies as we see this in the party scene as Capulet tells Tybalt to leave him alone and also Capulet knows who he is but doesn’t tell him to leave ‘Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone’. His Family is wealthy and established. We know his friends and family clearly care for him as at the start of the play Romeos father is clearly concerned for him when he is depressed about Rosaline And private in his chamber pens himself, shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out’ Is Romeo perfect? No he’s not as a tragic hero has a tragic flaw also known as hamartia, or possesses ideas which connect to be fulfilled in this world.

We know he is not perfect because he is melodramatic, self pitying, immature and unwilling to take advice, An example of this would be at the start of the play when he is sulking about Rosaline, ‘Tut, I have lost myself; I am not here; This is not Romeo, he’s some other where’ When Benvolio tries to talk to him Romeo just ignores him. Be rul’d by me: forget to think of her’ Another example from a different play of Shakespeare’s would be Macbeth his most common flaw was excessive pride and determination to become king.

Romeo most tragic flaw would be unrealistic expectations, Can he really marry Juliet without any consequences? The flaw is partly responsible for his downfall because a tragic hero chooses one course of action over another, in Romeos case if he hadn’t killed Tybalt he wouldn’t have been banished and he and Juliet wouldn’t have died, also Romeo knew that the penalty for murder was execution ‘Romeo slew him; he slew Mercutio.

Who now the prince of his dear blood doth owe? ‘ Macbeth is another example of this because he has to commit further murders to cover up the ones he’s already committed. Romeo also ignores the premonition he has and attends the party, if he hadn’t Romeo and Juliet would have both had different outcomes. Romeo kills Tybalt aware of the penalty, and at the end of the play he commits suicide without waiting and if he had he would’ve been with Juliet. External influences also contribute to the downfall; Benvolio and Mercutio persuade Romeo to go to the party where he meets Juliet.

Both the teenagers’ families play a large part because if they hadn’t feuded then Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t have had to hide there love for each other. ‘O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? ‘ Fate also plays a big part as we see at the start of the play on the prologue, we find out the outcome of Romeo and Juliet’s future, also Romeo’s premonition with the stars, he ignores that if he goes to the party something bad will happen to him and his family. ‘I fear, too early; for my mind misgives Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars,

Shall bitterly begin his fearful date With this night’s revels and expire the term Of a despised life clos’d in my breast, By some vile forfeit of untimely death. But He that hath the steerage of my course Direct my sail! On, lusty gentlemen. ‘ Hamlet is another example he was influenced by the ghost of his father and his mother’s relationship with his uncle. Another Characteristic of a tragic hero is that the punishment exceeds the crime, the audience must not be left feeling that the tragic hero got what he deserved.

In Macbeth he is brave and valiant at the start of the play, but as he starts to murder more and more people knowing that his actions are wrong, yet he goes to battle knowing he will be defeated. As for Romeo when he kills Tybalt the punishment should be death, but he only got banishment which is a very lenient punishment, but ultimately he doesn’t deserve to die at the end of the play, and the audience must be not left feeling that he did deserve to die. There is a catharsis at the end of the play when Romeo and Juliet both die and the situation is finally resolved.

It is also tragic in Macbeth when he dies but Malcolm becomes king and the rightful bloodline is restored. In Romeo and Juliet the feud is ended but innocent victims are killed, and the bloodline is ended. So does Romeo possess all the characteristics of a tragic hero? Yes I think he does acquire most of them because his flaw is partly responsible for his downfall, but he doesn’t have a major flaw like Macbeth, just lots of minor ones. I don’t think Romeo possesses as many of the characteristics as Macbeth or Hamlet they both acquire all the characteristics.

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