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Is Romeo a tragic hero?

Posted by ktrigilio on May 30, 2014 at 1:45 PM

George Orwell wrote "A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler that the forces which destroy him."  Do Romeo and Juliet prove to be nobler than the forces that bring about their downfall?

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14 Comments

Reply Mohit Aspal
4:52 PM on May 30, 2014 
According to Orwell?s definition of a tragic situation, the story of Romeo and Juliet should not be considered a tragedy; neither Romeo nor Juliet proves to be nobler than the forces that bring about their downfall. The most significant of these forces was the constant bickering nature between the Montagues and the Capulets. Although these two families? rivalry cannot be considered noble, Romeo and Juliet?s unknown marriage cannot be deemed as a dignified act either. By secretly defying their parents, Romeo and Juliet portrayed themselves as a rebellious couple, a title far from being considered an honorable accomplishment. In fact, when viewed from the perspective of Lord Capulet and Lord Montague, their actions are not defined as noble, but instead as immature and foolish. Furthermore, in Romeo?s quest for attaining the love of Juliet, Romeo ended up killing numerous of his own relatives. His impulsive disposition ultimately made him a murderer, and thus he proved to be an irrational slave to love. Some may view their love as a strong interdependent relationship, but in fact, it was merely a path to their downfall and their degraded status.
Reply Mohit Aspal
4:56 PM on May 30, 2014 
All of my apostrophes kept turning into question marks for some unknown reason.
Reply Julia Butler
2:47 PM on June 2, 2014 
Romeo is not a tragic hero. I think he is just an infatuated teenager who took things to the extreme. I don't object to him defying his and her parents hate for each other and love Juliet, but he didn't get to really know her. The story took place in a matter of only days, so he could have met another girl who wasn't a Capulet. His actions were not noble or righteous, just an impulse from a hormonal teenage boy. Their downfall also was brought by a misunderstanding. Romeo did not get the letter saying Juliet was pretending to be dead, so he killed himself out of grief and she did the same. All of Romeo and Juliet's actions were highly impulsive and charged with emotion rather than logic. They didn't display any noble virtues such as not acting on impulse and thinking things through, a better message for the audience.
Reply Sarah Burnham
2:39 PM on June 3, 2014 
Overall I would say yes, because in the scene where he drinks the poison and Juliet sees him dead and then she kills herself, it pretty much started the peace between the Montagues and the Capulets. However in other scenes he wasn't very much a hero more of a ... baby, and what I mean by this is when Mercutio dies Romeo becomes completely hysterical instead of just accepting his punishment of being banished from Verona he wishes to be dead and when he hears the false news of Juliet's "death" he goes hysterical again and ends up killing Paris (in the play version).
Reply Danielle Bauke
10:23 PM on June 3, 2014 
All though many believe that Romeo and Juliet do not prove to be tragic heroes, in my opinion they do. Many read this Shakespearean play and see the two main characters as rash, flawed, and depressed teenagers. The Montagues and the Capulets have an on going feud. Despite obvious obstacles that will prevent these two young loves from being together, they try to defy the stars and find a way to be happy in each others arms. Both Romeo and Juliet are willing to go to the greatest extent to be together, and willing to cut their life short if their efforts fail. Though the two young star-crossed lovers never reached their happy ending, Romeo and Juliet's death allowed the two dignified families to start a peace. Romeo and Juliet are tragic heroes because they tried to be together, something the stars would not allow. Fate is a grater power than two mortal nobles. In Romeo and Juliet's self destruction, the feud was patched up, allowing the two young teens to change something in their cruel world to good though it was at the price of their lives. This shows that all though the universe was against the two being together, their love could not be extinguished and it lived on in their families by mending the hate and anger the two families felt towards each other into compassion.
Reply Hannah Sears
7:02 AM on June 4, 2014 
According to an online definition, a tragic hero is a "great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy that is destined for downfall, suffering, or defeat". Based on this definition my conclusion is that Romeo is a tragic hero. To break this down, I will use the definition like a check list.
1. Great or virtuous- this one is the only hard one because he has to agree with the moral and ethical principles of that time, but he did murder his cousin. Even though it was four revenge it is still murder. So the answer is sort of up to the reader to decide, I would say that he is great and virtuous.
2. Character in a dramatic tragedy- This is an obvious yes. The whole piece is in script format and a lot of people get stabbed and die.
3. Destined for downfall, suffering and defeat- yes. I would agree with this statement because as it says throughout the play they are "star-crossed lovers" they go through many struggles in the play between the forced engagement and the Capulet and Montague arguments. Romeo and Juliet probably would have both lived if they just thought for a second but I guess they were destined for the death that awaited them in the Capulet tomb.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that Romeo is a tragic hero.
Reply Samantha Cominelli
4:21 PM on June 4, 2014 
In the story of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo would not be considered a tragic hero. Although many may claim that Romeo performed a heroic act of drinking the poison in honor of Juliet, this would not actually be a heroic action. In fact, maybe an action of no thought or poor judgement. If instead of falling into the moment of his beloved "dead" wife and had he taken in consideration the signs of life which appeared on Juliet's body, Romeo may have avoided his death. Had Romeo waited and thought of why Juliet had not faded in color from her death, maybe Romeo and Juliet's plan to live together could have worked. But in his struggle to show his affection for his Juliet, Romeo foolishly took it upon himself to drink poison and fall to his death. In this way, Romeo's actions were not even close to being heroic. In another light, Juliet may be considered nobler than the forces that brought her downfall. Her first noble act was to fake her death by using a potion mixed up by the Friar. Had the Friar attempted to kill Juliet with the potion, Juliet would be remembered by her brave attempt to be with her fair Romeo. Another heroic act by Juliet was when she took her life for Romeo. She had woken up from her rest only to find her true love dead beside her. In her mind, it was not worth to live if she could not live with Romeo, so she killed herself as a way to put her love before her. Therefore, Juliet, not Romeo, would be considered the true tragic hero.
Reply Sammy Orlando
5:25 PM on June 4, 2014 
Romeo and Juliette are not nobler than their downfall according to Orwell's definition of a tragic hero. Neither Romeo nor Juliette committed any noble heroic act, they were simply just two naive teenagers who fell in love. Some might argue that ending their parent's long feud makes the two characters noble, but ending the dispute was not their intent. Romeo and Juliette were planning to meet and ended up committing suicide for their love. They did not take into consideration the consequences of their actions. Romeo and Juliette have become labeled as "star crossed lovers" destined to never be together, but can we be sure that that's true? Yes their families had a long history of fighting, but Romeo and Juliette never told their parent's about their secret marriage, and when their parents did find out they weren't mad. How can the reader be sure that if Romeo and Juliette had just come clean about their love that their parents would have tried to stop it? Romeo and Juliette are not noble heros in a tragedy, they are two people who acted on impulse and created a mess of things.
Reply Gwendolyn Koehne
10:10 PM on June 4, 2014 
Ms t I'm gonna cry I just typed a whole reallly long response but I did it on mobile and I hit submit and its not showing it or anything I'm gonna d I e help
Reply Karissa Murray
10:49 PM on June 9, 2014 
Based on George Orwell's definition of a tragic hero I would have to say Romeo and Juliet are not tragic heroes. They only knew each other for a few days and then killed themselves because they couldn't be together. This story shows that when you're young and in love you will do stupid things. Romeo nor Juliet were nobler than the forces that bring about their downfall because they both die in the end. Maybe in Romeo or Juliet's perspective it was a noble act at the time, but from my personal perspective I believe that them killing themselves would be a sign of weakness and giving in to the forces that are trying to bring them down.
Reply Callie O'Leary
7:19 PM on June 13, 2014 
I think Romeo and Juliet are not tragic heroes based on George Orwell's definition. I think Romeo and Juliet were loyal to each other and they loved each other, but, they had just met. I think they acted out because their love was "crazy" and their families were enemies. I do believe in love at first sight but killing yourself for someone you just met yesterday is just plain stupid. Like I think if Romeo had just waited and considered that Juliet might not be dead based on how she doesn't "look" dead then they could've had a long life together. But since I didn't write this play, they kill themselves to be with each other in a other life. If it were me, i would've waited. I would've waited longer than 10 seconds to decide I can't live without my "star-crossed lover". So yeah, that's what I think. Hopefully I'm not too late with this answer. Have a nice weekend!
Reply Julia Wood
8:29 PM on June 15, 2014 
Based on George Orwell's definition of a tragic hero, no, I do not think that Romeo and Juliet are tragic heroes. Romeo and Juliet do not prove to be nobler than the forces that bring about their downfall. After meeting for the first time and "instantly" falling for each other, their emotions are brought upon by pain and the need to be with one another, even though they knew absolutely nothing about their partner. What if Romeo were to be a serial killer? Killing yourself over someone you just met seems a bit too overdramatic and I don't think it's something people should do...Anyways, Romeo and Juliet simply could not live with the fact that their families were complete enemies, and their star-crossed love was known to be a sin. I think they both knew it couldn't last if they planned to stay in touch with their families so the stress of it all took upon their poor teenage hearts. They are both the reasons for their downfall, since they took their own lives. However, the death of the two seems to have brought peace among the brawling families, so that's a plus. (Sorry this is so late, my other response never posted and I forgot until now. Hope it's not too late!!)
Reply Sofia Gallo
7:37 PM on June 16, 2014 
In my opinion Romeo is not a tragic hero in this play. His character brings all of the issues that come up in this story upon himself by his unthought-out and impulsive behavior. There is not really anything that stands out to me that would consider him a hero of any sort. Romeo could?ve avoided multiple situations and in the end it was just all bad luck and bad timing that caused for both Romeo and Juliet to kill themselves.
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