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‘Tis better to have loved and lost than to never to have loved at all.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson. Romeo and Juliet is a tragic love story by William Shakespeare; this story is about two star-crossed lovers whose families’ long lasting disputes eventually caused the soulmates to end their forbidden love by taking their own lives. Shakespear develops Romeo as the tragic hero throughout the story, by starting with all of his misfortunes from the beginning, to his many conflicts throughout the story, and finally ending with his fatal flaw.
Shakespeare develops Romeo’s misfortunes from the very moment the play started, when Rosaline rejected him, to the death of Mercutio, and not knowing Juliet’s death was fake. When Rosaline rejected Romeo’s confession of his love for her, he had been talking to Benvolio about how it was “Out of her favour, where I am in love” (act 1.1 line 163). This explains that Rosaline does not express the same feelings as Romeo which leaves him hurt and in a pitiful state.
Also, when Tybalt and Mercutio fight and Mercutio gets stabbed, he states, “They have made worms’ meat of me.” (act 3.1 line 104) Leading up to Mercutio’s death, Romeo believes it is his fault that Mercutio is going to be buried with the worms, which is basically what Mercutio said when he said, “Damn your houses” (line 105 act 3.1). Additionally, when Romeo is talking to Juliet’s cold body he describes her death as being “writ with me in sour misfortune’s book” (act 5.
3 line 83) This shows how Romeo blames Juliet’s death on fortune and they were both written in its book tragically.
Shakespeare also develops Romeo’s conflict that can not be resolved by showing how he is torn between his love for Juliet and his loyalty to his family. One representation is when Romeo is trying to not harm Tybalt and says,”the reason I have to love thee doth much excuse the appertaining rage.” (act 3.1 lines 58-59) This shows that while Tybalt is trying to fight Romeo, Romeo explains that his reasons for loving Tybalt overcomes his hate for him. But, Romeo is torn when Mercutio is belittling him for his “calm, dishonorable,vile submission” to Tybalt’s insults (act 3.1 line 69). Mercutio is furious by the way Romeo is letting Tybalt disrespect him. At the end of the story after Romeo had been banished and then had taken his own life, the Prince ends the scene by stating “For never was a story of more woe” (act 5.3 line 316). This suggests that all the events leading up to the end made the story more depressing as it went on.
Romeo’s fatal flaw is his emotional over reactions, which Shakespeare develops when Romeo goes to the Capulet’s garden, when he kills Tybalt, and even when he commits suicide. After the party when Romeo saw Juliet he decided to climb the Capulet’s garden wall in hopes to see Juliet, Romeo says,”can I go forward when my heart is here?” (act 2.1 line 1) Knowing that entering the garden could get him killed, he still jumps the wall in spite of love. Also, after Mercutio dies, Romeo doesn’t take a second to think and rushes to kill Tybalt stating “this shall determine that.” (act 3.1 line 129) This shows that his emotions overwhelmed him and he didn’t think of the consequences, which led to his banishment. Another example of his fatal flaw is when he learns of Juliet’s “death” and swiftly drinks the poison, “Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.” (act 5.3 line 120) This proves that again he let his emotions get the best of him and didn’t think once before downing the poison killing him before Friar Laurence could get to him.
The reason Romeo is the tragic hero of the story is because of the way Shakespeare develops his several misfortunes, and many conflicts throughout the story, ending with his fatal flaw. These then all added up causing him to take his own life at the end of the play, making the story more lamentable due to the irony of him not knowing Juliet was alive.
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