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Tragedy In The End
Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare is a fascinating piece that has a lot for the readers to desire and learn from, in regards to the way different themes and other stylistic devices are used in it. Many readers have appreciated the play in regards to the way it portrays the theme of love, which many readers identify with (Nevo 248). However, this study seeks to examine the theme of pride and how the characters fill with pride contribute to the tragedy experienced at the end. It is important to note that pride has always been linked to a positive facet of human life, but on the other hand, it can so dangerous when it is too much. The Shakespearean society as depicted in the play reflects what happens today, and this means that the contemporary audience can learn a lot from it.
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To begin with, one of the forms of pride indicated in the play is familial as different people that belong to a family fight each other. For example, Tybalt seems to be rude to Benvolio as depicted in his words saying, “What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee: Have at thee, coward!” (Shakespeare 12). In fact, as the play progresses, Tybalt is not only seen to be of great pride but a hot-tempered individual who is very weak in managing his emotions. The readers see him die at the end following his fight with Romeo, and his parents are moved by emotions as a result (Soens122). It is an outright indication that pride leads to fighting and other disasters, which can really be tragic. On the same pedestal, Lord Capulet is an angry father that feels hot belied when he feels something is not right. He is seen angry shouting to his daughter saying, “Hang thee, young baggage! disobedient wretch! I tell thee what: get thee to church o’ Thursday, Or never after look me in the face: Speak not, reply not, do not answer me; My fingers itch. Wife, we scarce thought us blest That God had lent us but this only child; But now I see this one is one too much, And that we have a curse in having her: Out on her, hilding!” (Shakespeare 200). Sometimes, he becomes overemotional that he does not even mind his words as he communicates to the nurse harshly saying, “Peace, you mumbling fool! Utter your gravity o’er a gossip’s bowl; For here we need it not” (Shakespeare 201). In other words, he is full of pride and is not worried about the feelings of the others, such as the nurse. He is even ready to disown his real daughter if she cannot follow his commands. This, too, proves that pride can be a greater cause of the tragedy.
Romeo and Juliet are in a rush to make certain decisions that also contribute to their ruin at the end. Their romance is hasty and rushed, which others would think to be as a result of their age which makes them flawed, but in another sense, it is because of pride (Law 91). They at times do not critically think before arriving at certain decisions but are moved with the feelings spurred with pride. From the play, it is evident that Romeo is not ready to be challenged nor to be adviced. When Paris tries to challenge him, he responds by saying that “Wilt thou provoke me? then have at thee, boy!” (Shakespeare 208). He fights Paris, not on any ground, but because he feels his position is unchallengeable and should not be questioned. At the end of their fight, Paris dies, saying that “If thou be merciful, Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet” (Shakespeare 208). This is a sign that pride is disastrous and tragic.
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Romeo and Juliet are on different occasions found in compromising situations due to pride and lack of proper thinking. Romeo fights Tybalt and sees him die, something that leads to him been burnished from the community. Juliet is disturbed and anticipates death than to see her separated from him. If he would have controlled his pride and anger, he would not have faced Tybalt and the tragedy of separation would be overcome. When Romeo tells her that they would not see each other for some time, Juliet is perturbed and says “O God, I have an ill-divining soul! Methinks I see thee, now thou art below, As one dead in the bottom of a tomb: Either my eyesight fails, or thou look’st pale” (Shakespeare 178). Juliet confirms that it is indeed a loss. The loss of a cousin, but she cannot comprehend that Romeo is the one responsible for his death. She loves as she states that “Feeling so the loss, Cannot choose but ever weep the friend” Shakespeare 181). In other words, is a double loss to her due to the death of a cousin and the separation with the man.
In conclusion, pride is a major cause of the tragedies seen in the play. For instance, Tybalt is full of pride and poor emotions, while on the other hand, Romeo does not hesitate to attack anyone that he feels tries to challenge him. On the other hand, Lord Capulet is moved with emotions and pride if he feels things are not working his ways. Therefore, the readers can openly see the effects of pride and weigh between avoiding it and the consequences that follow when allowed to ensue.
- Law, Robert Adger. “On Shakespeare’s Changes Of His Source Material In” Romeo And Juliet”.” Studies in English 9 (1929): 86-102.
- Nevo, Ruth. “Tragic form in Romeo and Juliet.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 (1969): 241-258.
- Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Vol. 1. Lippincott, 1913.
- Soens, Adolph L. “Tybalt’s Spanish Fencing in Romeo and Juliet.” Shakespeare Quarterly 20.2 (1969): 121-127.