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I always view Paris as the true tragic character in the play. He is the only one who died through no fault of his own. If I were to have to pick a tragic flaw for Paris, it would have to be that he always tried to do the honorable thing to the point of fault.
Although students usually view Paris with disdain, as he is Romeo's rival for Juliet's hand, they fail to understand him because he is old fashioned and conventional for his time. Students argue that his love for Juliet was the superficial kind because he didn't even know her, yet claimed to love her. However, that's how courtship went back then. When a gentleman believed he was ready for marriage, he would find a woman who was noble in heritage and fair in appearance and ask her father for permission to marry her. From that point, he would go about trying to forge a relationship and love with her.
I'll give you a brief outline of Paris' actions and their results:
-He asks Lord Capulet for Juliet's hand and is told to get to know her better and wait longer. He humbly obliges
-Lord Capulet then uses him as a pawn to marry Juliet and end his family's depression. He happily agrees.
-He then wakes up on his wedding day to find Juliet dead and is heart broken.
-The next day he goes to pay respect to his dead bride and finds a rival of her family in the tomb. He honorably tries to defend her honor but is killed in the process.
Those are only a few examples. Paris tried to be the gentleman society expected him to be, but in a town of emotionally unstable people (Romeo), irrational mentors (Friar Lawrence), spoiled girls (Juliet), and hair trigger decision makers (Lord Capulet), Paris' honorable actions results in his death.
I once asked my students to complete a lesson plan on this topic, which may be of help to you. In class, I noticed that a few of the girls felt sorry for poor old County Paris as he seemed overlooked by everyone, so I devised a lesson plan to help us all get inside his character as it would be refreshing to watch the action through his eyes. So try going back to the very first mention of Paris and writing a diary as if you were trying to woo Juliet. Mention a meeting with her father, the meeting at the cell etc. Although this can't be your character outline, it will make you look at him in a new way and give you some useful insights. We had fun reading ours out!
You need to think about how Paris functions as a foil for Romeo in this great play. mwestwood is correct in stating that he appears as a conventional lover, and as such is presented in quite bland terms compared to the obvious frisson that exists between Romeo and Juliet. Juliet seems to have to face the choice of marrying for true love and passion and sticking with Romeo, or marrying out of parental pressure and to make a respectable marriage in the eyes of society, and choosing Paris. You might want to therefore think about what Paris might represent symbolically as a character and what Juliet's choice says about the theme of love in the play.
An outline is a good tool to have in preparation for writing an essay, but, before you create an outline, you need to describe your topic (Count Paris) in a little more detail. This will lead you to your thesis statement, the specific statement about Paris that you would like your supporting material to defend.
I am including a link to a terrific Enotes page called "How to Write a Character Analysis." It will guide you through 10 steps to clarifying what sort of statement you'd like to make about Paris. As you read through the list given on this page, consider the following questions about Paris:
- He arrives on the scene in Act One as a suitor for Juliet's hand, yet he has never met her. What do you think is his motivation for wanting to marry her?
- Who do you think Paris "fits" better with -- the older characters like Lord Capulet or the younger characters like Romeo and Juliet. Why?
- What do the characters Lady Capulet, the Nurse and Lord Capulet have to say about Paris?
- Juliet and Paris finally have a scene together in Act IV. How do they seem to feel about each other?
- What do you make of Romeo murdering Paris in Juliet's tomb?
This are simply questions meant to help you arrive at a more specific topic and finally, a thesis statement about Paris. Once you have that, you can collect the supporting quotes and events from the play that you will use to fill out the body of your essay.
In general, the outline of an essay looks like this:
- INTRODUCTION. This paragraph will include your thesis statement.
- BODY. Depending on the required length of your essay-- a number of paragraphs supporting your thesis statement. This is where your quotes and reference to specific events will be organized.
- CONCLUSION. This paragraph generally either re-states your thesis, or provides a glimpse into an opposing viewpoint.
For more on writing a Character Analysis, creating a thesis statement and writing an Introduction, and Paris, please follow the links below.
Since Count Paris of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet represents the conventional lover of the Renaissance setting in Verona, Italy, you may do well to demonstrate how he fits this type, and how sharply he is in contrast to the romantic Romeo. For, there is little but conventional behavior exhibited by this character.
The only lengthy discussion of Paris is at the beginning of the play in which Juliet's mother tries to interest her daughter in the count after he has asked Lord Capulet for her hand. In an extended metaphor, which is also a convention, Lady Capulet compares Count Paris to a book where Juliet can "find delight write there with beauty's pen" (1.4.). Dutifully, Juliet agrees to consider him.
That there is little between Juliet and Paris is evinced in the count's further actions. In the same conventional manner that he has approached Lord Capulet for Juliet's hand, he appears at the cell of Friar Laurence to arrange for their wedding--with the desperate Juliet already there to "know his remedy" for this proposal. As he speaks with the priest, Paris believes that Juliet's cause for her tears is Tybalt's death (Act IV), and does not bother to find the true reason. Later in the play, Paris appears at the tomb of Juliet, demonstrating more emotion for Juliet than he has elsewhere in the play. Yet, he is still deceived at the cause for her tragic "death." Even though he refers to Juliet as his love, he never understands her, unlike Romeo who has sought the innermost workings of her heart.
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