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Before you can explore the extent that Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet can be described as a tragedy, you have to know the definition of a tragedy is normally when a main character has a moral flaw, which leads to their downfall. Romeo and Juliet is very problematic, as a tragedy because Romeo and Juliet main flaw is their love for each other and love in its normal context is not described as a flaw. This leads me to believe that the flaw does not lie with Romeo or Juliet but lies with the families and their feud and with the haste and lying that their love was formed on but you also need to realise that the play was written over 400 years ago.
The play was set it ancient Verona so they culture and customs are very different from the traditions and behaviour in 21st century Verona.
In the prologue it tells us that Romeo and Juliet destiny was decided before they were even conceived in their parents "fatal loins".
From the wording of the quote fatal meaning deadly or doomed and always going to happen or it was fate and loins meaning their reproductive system putting them together leads us to think that Romeo and Juliet were helpless and this was planned by the gods to get back at their parents who arguments has caused lots of blood shed.
Another quote that suggest their love was doomed is "death marked love" this again shows that their love was tarnished, but I believe this quote deeper meaning is that their parents hatred "marked" their love and their death was the only way to finish the fighting and the perverse killing of not only the members of the two families but innocent civilians and Romeo and Juliet had no control.
In act 1 scene 3 Romeo was not in control of him self and kills tybalt but straight after he regrets it and says "O, I am fortune's fool!" which shows that he was not in control, he was a puppet under the control of the puppeteer. In this sense the gods are the puppeteer; the gods are referred to a lot through the play which carries my thought that the parents are to be blamed. Act 1 scene 3 is a turning point in this play up to this scene you would classify this as an Italian comedy but it unfolds into a tragedy. We know that the writer of the play William Shakespeare travelled to Italy and we assume he went to see a couple of plays while he was their at that time a lot of plays where being produced with the basic plot of a poor or unworthy man falls in love with a noble women to find out he has noble blood running through his veins, I think this inspired him with the idea of a Italian comedy with a fatal twist turning it into a dramatic tragedy.
The gods had control over everything and Romeo and Juliet was just mere pawns in a master plan to punish their families this is shown by "star crossed lovers" indicating by the words "star" something out of our world, something great and something that so far but so close and "crossed" meaning something was flawed, wrong and incurable about their love for each other. This gives us a clash between two of the flaws on one side something out this world the Gods on the other an incurable flaw in their love. So which theory is correct well love is not some thing from this world it comes down when we are born and leaves the world when we die so I think that the quotes meaning lies with the gods because they are the ones that bestow people with love.
So in my conclusion I believe that Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy to the extent that the two families were so against each other that the only way of stopping it was to kill two young prosperous children but by doing this many more lives have been saved and a very valuable lesson has been taught.
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