The Importance Of Tragedy In Romeo And Juliet

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“Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete and whole… (Aristotle 31)”. This theory conveyed by Aristotle in his renowned work Poetics expresses the idea that a successful tragedy consists of specific principles that reoccur in classic literature. The theory emphasizes that a tragedy represents reality and universal truths rather than historical particulars. This is achieved by creating a tightly-woven cause and effect chain or “unity of action” that centers around the plot rather than the personalities of the characters. Also, the plot of the tragedy should have complex, specific, and coherent turning points, that are a part of the “unity of action”. In addition, the characters in a tragedy, have specific characteristics that designate …show more content…
First, the beginning of a tragedy occurs with the “incentive moment” which starts the cause and effect chain (McManus). In Romeo and Juliet, the scene where the two heroes confess their undying love and decide to marry represents the incentive moment (2.2. 149-154). Romeo and Juliet start a string of events that eventually lead to their doom. The events after the “incentive moment” build to the middle or climax of the story, called the “catastrophe” or change of fortune (McManus). The incidents building up to the catastrophe in Romeo and Juliet first began in the incentive moment when the two profess their love for each other. Then, the catastrophe occurs when Juliet says, “This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die,” and kills herself, meaning she would rather die than live without Romeo, thus fulfilling their star-crossed fate (5.3. 175-76). Finally, the plot unites at the end with “the more rapid cause and effect chain from the catastrophe to the resolution,” called dénouement, where the final strands of the plot are explained and resolved (McManus). After Romeo and Juliet’s death, Friar Lawrence explains their tragic situation and this information resolves the animosity between the families (5.3. 302-311). In summary, the three archetypal structure components in Romeo and Juliet interweave to create a tragic plot and support Aristotle’s

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