William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet continues to be one of the most compelling tragedies ever written inspiring many adaptations, most notably Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adaptation Romeo + Juliet. Unlike most genres, tragedy is constricting, and a work must adhere to certain guidelines to be considered a true tragedy. Such is the case with Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, which, while it is fundamental with the text, ends up as a stylized attempt at tragedy thwarted by editorial choices. According to Aristotle’s Poetics, a tragedy is the fall of a great person due to a tragic flaw and the mistakes that come of it, which in turn encourages catharsis, or emotional purging in the audience. It is of epic scope and the downfall of the hero is…show more content… Tragedy is a strict genre with strict rules in place. However, whether these laws are totally uncompromising regarding Romeo and Juliet is still debatable. At what point, does Luhrmann’s rebellion against the genre of tragedy change the genre entirely?
Firstly, let us discuss the conventionalist approach to genre of the original Romeo and Juliet, namely the downfall of Romeo and Juliet due to their common tragic flaw of impulsivity. Romeo and Juliet are portrayed as innocent, good-hearted, youthful lovers deserving of the audience’s sympathy. However, the youthfulness of the couple by extension also is their major flaw: with youth comes impulsivity. Upon meeting each other not two hours ago, Romeo decides to climb into the Capulet’s courtyard to see Juliet, despite Juliet correctly noting that, ‘if they do see thee, they will murder thee’ (Act 2, Scene II, Line 70). But Romeo simply answers that, ‘My life were better ended by their hate, Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love.’ (Act 2, Scene II, Line 77-78). Romeo is near suicidal in the face of love. The impulsivity of Romeo’s actions here does not affect him negatively, however, towards the end of the play, upon hearing of Juliet’s death, his impulsivity becomes his downfall. Immediately after hearing the news, Romeo decides, ‘Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night’ (Act 5 Scene I Line 34). It appears that Romeo has not considered anything other