How does dramatic irony contribute to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet?
Dramatic irony occurs when the reader or audience of a work is aware of information that at least one character is not. Consider Disney's The Lion King. Viewers know that Scar is responsible for Mufasa's death, but Simba does not. Watching Simba's reaction to Scar's actions builds tension.
The same applies to Romeo and Juliet. There are several times in the play when the audience is aware of information that the characters are not, and it both builds tension and deepens the suspense that drives the plot forward.
The most tense example, of course, is when Romeo rushes to Juliet's tomb, believing that she has died. The audience is aware of the potion that only makes her appear dead, and that truly keeps the audience on the edge of its collective seat when Romeo delivers these words:
Ah, dear Juliet,
Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe
That unsubstantial death is amorous,
And that the lean abhorrèd monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour?
For fear of that, I still will stay with thee,
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