Sample Paper on Romeo and Juliet: Romance and tragedy

Sample Paper on Romeo and Juliet: Romance and tragedy

Romance is an emotional attraction often based on chivalric love and usually leads to a love affair. On the other hand, a tragedy refers to an event causing severe suffering and distress. The play, Romeo and Juliet, vividly brings out the two themes of romance and tragedy through the actions of its characters. The play, which revolves around the lives of two love-birds, begins with brawls between the servants from the feuding families. Later on, Romeo and Juliet meet, and it is a case of love at first sight but ends tragically in the death of the two lovers.

To start with, romance emerges when Romeo falls in love with Rosaline, but the lady does not reciprocate his love hence his melancholic state. The other instance of romance is seen when Capulet, Juliet’s father organizes a ball that would see his daughter betrothed to the prince. Romeo and his friend Benvolio in their youthful playfulness also attend the party hiding behind masks. As fate had planned it, Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time and fall hopelessly in love.

Romance is further seen in the play as Romeo climbs into Capulet’s orchard to see Juliet for the last time before leaving the party. The lady he’s smitten with appears on the balcony, and the two affirm their love towards each other promising to get married the next day. True to their word, they are united in marriage by Friar Laurence who does it with the hope of uniting the warring families.

Moreover, the play is a romance as evident when Juliet mourns the banishment of Romeo more than she cried for Tybalt’s death. Lady Capulet and the nurse were both convinced that Juliet was affected by the death of the beloved cousin. The family agrees to postpone the wedding of Juliet to Paris so that she could finish the grieving (Hodgdon and William 751). In a bid to affirm that Romeo was alive, Juliet sent her nurse with a ring to give to Romeo at Friar Lawrence’s cell. In Scene Two, Act Three, Juliet says “O find him! Give him this ring to my true knight, and bid him come to take his last farewell” (Shakespeare 28). True to her word, the nurse delivers the ring to Romeo. A few days later, Juliet visits Friar Lawrence and bears out her heart that she could not marry Paris-her parent’s chosen suitor. She tells the Friar that her heart was with Romeo, that in as much that he had been banished from Verona, he was quite alive in her heart. After they recede to the priest’s private chambers, Friar Lawrence tells Juliet that he had a solution. He could give her a sleeping drug that would make her sleep for three days till Romeo arrived from Mantua (Culpeper 1338). The drug was supposed to deceive people that she was dead. These events happened to show how much Romeo and Juliet loved each other to the point of death, which shows why the play is a romance.

Romeo and Juliet can be considered a tragedy, and this is evident when Romeo and Juliet come from two feuding families. The feud is seen in Chapter one when Romeo says “O dear account! My life is my foe’s debt” (Shakespeare 14). This meant that he had made himself vulnerable to the enemy by falling in love with Capulet’s daughter.

The other instance of tragedy occurs when Romeo is challenged to a duel by Tybalt who is Juliet’s cousin. Tybalt is turned down by Romeo who considers him a relative. Tybalt is enraged and tries to taunt Romeo so that they fight. He tells him, “Romeo, the hate that I bear thee can afford no better term than this-thou art a villain” (William Shakespeare 25). Scene five, Act three.  Mercutio, Romeo’s friend, is enraged by the accusations and seeks to fight on behalf of Romeo. He draws his sword and in a swift haze but Tybalt kills him and runs away together with his friends. Romeo successfully executes a plan to avenge Mercutio’s death and kills Tybalt then he flees (Robert 111). Romeo is later banished by the Prince for Tybalt’s murder. This scene clearly brings out the theme of tragedy in the play Romeo and Juliet.

Further, in the play, tragedy strikes again when Romeo coincidentally meets Paris at the tomb where Juliet was laid. Paris addresses him as a villain, asking him why he was taking revenge further than death. Juliet had been placed in the family tomb where his late cousin Tybalt had also been laid. Paris, therefore, assumed that Romeo still wanted to do worse and swears to kill him. Romeo tells Paris not to add a sin to his head as he had already murdered Tybalt and did not want to do the same by killing him also. He tells Paris “Put not another sin upon my head… For heaven, I love thee better than myself, for I come hither armed against myself…” (Shakespeare 43). Paris defies Romeo, and a fight ensues. Paris is tragically murdered at the tomb by Romeo during the confrontation. Before leaving Mantua, Romeo had received the wrong information about Juliet’s death as the Friar’s messenger had not left Verona due to a plague. Desperate, angry and frustrated, Romeo had earlier on bought poison from the apothecary (Lehman 75). Having seen the dead body of his lover, and unaware that she was alive, he proceeds to drink the poison and dies. The death of Romeo yet again brings out the theme of tragedy in the play.

Juliet, her sleeping potion having worn out, stirs and wakes up from the sleep. She sees the Friar, still confused about the tragic deaths in the tomb. Juliet asks about Romeo and turns to see him dead and his cup of poison still in his hand. She says “Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end… To help me after, I will kiss thy lips… To make die with a restorative” (Shakespeare 44. She contemplates drinking the same poison, but there is no single drop. Juliet draws Romeo’s dragger and stabs herself to death. All this happens quite fast as the watchman and Romeo’s servant were almost in the Capulet’s tomb. Apparently, the above deaths that occur throughout the play highlight how it is a tragedy.

To sum up, the play Romeo and Juliet is both romance and tragedy as it brings out the theme in equal measure. The innocent romance between the two lovers leads to a tragic end due to hatred, rivalry, pretense and intolerance (Byron 168). The two families, Capulet’s and the Montague could not see each other eye to eye and the hatred trickled to their descendants. Historical differences among families led to the death of young people who had only loved each other. Love has been known to conquer all, even during wars. The death of Romeo and Juliet finally brought the feud to an end as the two families joined hands and worked together (Sigal and Afton 1344).  The enmity among characters in the play played a role in the deaths, and this should serve as a lesson to future generations on why they should do away with enmity among one another.



Works Cited

Byron, Glennis. “‘As one dead’: Romeo and Juliet in the ‘Twilight’zone.” Gothic Shakespeares (2008): 167-85.

Culpeper, Jonathan. “Keyness: Words, parts-of-speech and semantic categories in the character talk of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.” International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 14.1 (2009): 29-59.

Hodgdon, Barbara, and William B. Worthen, eds. A Companion to Shakespeare and Performance. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

Lehmann, Courtney. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: A Close Study of the Relationship between Text and Film. 2010.

Roberts, Sasha. “Reading Shakespeare’s Tragedies of Love: Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and Antony and Cleopatra in Early Modern England.” A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works, Volume 1: The Tragedies (2003): 108-133.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Sigal, Leonard H., and Afton L. Hassett. “Commentary: ‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’Shakespeare W. Romeo and Juliet, II, ii (47–48).” International Journal of Epidemiology 34.6 (2005): 1345-1347.