Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

818 Words3 Pages
Throughout history, Shakespeare has been given credit for the popularizing of tragedies, causing a tragic hero to be seen as a reputable character. In Shakespeare’s story “Romeo and Juliet,” two ill-fated lovers are caught between the bitter hatred of their two families. Knowing their parents would never approve, Romeo and Juliet struggle to keep their love a secret. Though the story ends in what most people would view as a tragedy, Romeo fails to meet the characteristics of a tragic hero established by Aristotle, who first created the literary term. There are five distinguishing characteristics of a tragic hero identified by Aristotle: noble birth, a flaw resulting in the character’s eventual downfall, a reversal of fate caused by the flaw, an increase in self awareness, and withdrawing a feeling of pity from the audience. Romeo is born of a noble birth and has a major flaw that will cause his eventual unfortunate fate, but he never achieves a greater sense of self awareness. In conjunction with not enhancing his own self awareness, he also does not inspire the audience to feel sympathy for him. When Shakespeare introduces the story of “Romeo and Juliet,” he gives the impression that Romeo will develope into a perfect tragic hero. In the opening line of the prologue, the Montagues are described as a wealthy and powerful family, “Two households, both alike in dignity” (1.Prologue.1). Romeo’s noble birth remains unknown until the Capulets’ bawl, at which Capulet explains to
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