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What is an example of situational irony in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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knadolsky | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 2, 2013 at 9:55 AM via web

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What is an example of situational irony in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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jbachtx | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:52 AM (Answer #1)

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Situational irony is when a character's actions lead to a result that is not what is intended. This occurs when Romeo attempts to intervene in the confrontation between his friend Mercutio and his family's enemy Tybalt. Mercutio and Tybalt have antagonized each other into an armed confrontation. While Mercutio does not appear to see the severity of the situation, he does wield a sword in this confrontation. Both he and Tybalt taunt each other, but Tybalsears to be far more intense.  When Romeo appears on the scene after having just married Tybalt's cousin Juliet, he attempts to diffuse what he believes is a potentially volatile situation. The more he tries the more angry and aggressive Tybalt becomes against Mercutio.  Romeo continues to try to stop the fight, hoping to reason with Tybalt. But in his attempt to stop the fight and separate the two combatants, Romeo inadvertently causes Mercutio's death. By stepping between the two men and putting his arms up to stop Mercutio from hurting Tybalt with his sword,  Romeo blocks Mercutio's full view of Tybalt's movements. Mercutio is, therefore, unable to see Tybalt's movements clearly and is not able to see Tybalt when he thrusts two ward Mercutio with his sword. Mercutio is mortally wounded while Romeo is trying to stop the fight. This is not the outcome Romeo had intended and is therefore a perfect example of situational irony.

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