Although the play is a tragedy, where can its uplifting aspects be found?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romeo and Juliet is a story about young love. It has to end in their deaths because young love is a fragile, once-in-a-lifetime thing and cannot last. As Shakespeare says in Hamlet:

There lives within the very flame of love
A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it.
What is so touching about Romeo and Juliet is the way the boy and girl give themselves to each other without reservation. She is willing to die for him, and he is willing to die for her. Even though this kind of romantic love cannot last, it is perhaps the most beautiful thing in human life while it does. And those people who have experienced it in their own lives can consider themselves fortunate, regardless of how it might have turned out in the end.
When I was one-and-twenty
          I heard a wise man say,
"Give crowns and pounds and guineas,
          But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
          But keep your fancy free."
But I was one-and- twenty,
          No use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twenty
          I heard him say again,
"The heart out of the bosom
          Was never given in vain;
'Tis paid with sighs a plenty
          And sold for endless rue."
And I am two-and-twenty,
          And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.
                    A Shropshire Lad

The emotions aroused in audiences by Shakespeare's tribute to young love have been synthesized into pure orchestral music by Tchaikovsky in his famous "Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy." That music provides the best answer to the question of where the uplifting aspects of the play can be found. 

The fact that young love is fragile and ephemeral does not make it any the less beautiful. Nothing lasts forever. 
Further Reading:
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One area where there is an feeling of uplifting would have to be in the ending reconciliation between both families.  For whatever it is worth, the deaths of the children have brought both warring factions together. In some respects, Romeo and Juliet have not died in vain because the feud between both families seems to have subsided with their deaths. 

Another area where an uplifting aspect can be found is the words of the Prince.  Throughout the play, the Prince has been unable to maintain order.  His lack of control in Verona is reflective of a world gone mad and where righteousness has gone asunder.  The ending of the play is one in which his authority seems to have grown in stature. He seems magnanimous by the end of the drama:

A glooming peace this morning with it brings. 
The sun for sorrow will not show his head. 
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things; 
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished;(320) 
For never was a story of more woe 
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. 

The Prince is able to speak of peace and act in a manner where his stewardship will safeguard the memory of both lovers.  There can be an aspect of uplifting and redemption found in this condition where there is hope that peace will reign supreme in Verona under his watch.

The love that Romeo and Juliet share is one that is near perfect. Their deaths in each other arms represents how both of them are able to die in absolute love with one another and not have the reality of being test their love.  Their death, while sad, maintains the perfection of their love.  This can be an uplifting element to the ending of the drama.  Romeo and Juliet win because they can finally be together, united forever in the love of the other.

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

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