Romeo And Juliet A True Aristotelean Tragedy

1161 words - 5 pages

Romeo and Juliet a True Aristotelean Tragedy
Aristotle defines a tragedy as “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude”. However, it is his claim that a story must contain six parts in order to be a tragedy that causes much controversy. Many critics argue that William Shakespeare does not follow the guidelines for a tragic story in his famous piece Romeo and Juliet. Their main argument is with the way he presents his tragic elements. But as Lois Kerschen says, “Shakespeare may have altered the classic form of the Greek tragedy, but that does not mean he totally ignored the Greek formula”(261). It is his strong emphasis on certain elements that prove ...view middle of the document...

As stated by Lois Kerschen: “Killing Tybalt is a rash act that needed not have happened if Romeo had been better able to control himself” (261). Romeo’s rash attitude leads to the death of Tybalt and his banishment from Verona. His banishment from Verona essentially leads to the death of both him and Juliet because he is uninformed about Juliet’s fake sleep. Had Romeo and Juliet not exhibited their flaws, they would without a doubt still be alive.
Pity and fear rise in the play as a direct result of the flaws of Romeo and Juliet. As stated by Douglas Waters: “We pity the lovers when Romeo is banished, when Juliet drinks the sleeping potion, and when Romeo gets the false message about her death” (70). The multiple counts of catharsis in the play engage the audience’s interest. It is Juliet’s extreme love for Romeo that leads to her many downfalls in the play. As the story progresses, it seems as if Juliet’s life keeps getting worse. Her family is against her and she is left all alone: “add a different quote”. The audience is overwhelmed with pity when Juliet is sitting all alone on her bedroom floor begging for mercy from her parents. To make matters worse, the Nurse sides with Lord and Lady Capulet leaving Juliet without any support. Fear is developed by the audience while they wonder what Juliet will decide to do next. In fact, fear becomes reality when Juliet decides to fake her death so that she can be with Romeo. The faking of her own death leads to the actual death of Romeo and herself. The audience pities the two teens that die at such a young age. Yet, the audience’s pity and fear for Romeo is a direct result of his impetuousness. One of the main times the audience is pitiful and fearful towards Romeo is when he kills Tybalt: “O, I am fortune’s fool!”(III, i, 130). Romeo realizes that had he not shown such rashness after the fight, Tybalt would still be alive. Therefore, the audience pities Romeo for his impetuousness that was not meant to cause any harm. In addition, the audience is fearful of what consequences will come next.
Shakespeare’s contribution of anagnorisis foreshadows the series of events that lead to the downfall of the play. As emphasized by Aristotle: “The anagnorisis is the gaining of the essential knowledge that was...

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