Please review this essay and point out how I can make this essay flow better. Please also point out how, in general, I can make this essay better and more appealing. Thank-You Prompt- "Is Romeo and...

Please review this essay and point out how I can make this essay flow better.

Please also point out how, in general, I can make this essay better and more appealing.


Prompt- "Is Romeo and Juliet an Aristotelian tragedy?

Is “Romeo and Juliet” an Aristotelian tragedy?

Tragedy, is what binds humans in an infinite circle; encompassing the complexity of emotions; enriching that, which we hold closest to our hearts; able to stimulate the melody of life. This infinite circle is the nature of an exceptional tragedy, the very nature Aristotle describes in his book, Poetics. He states that tragedies must have six main elements: plot, character, thought, diction, melody and spectacle; furthermore, tragic heroes must be noble, and commit freely an act of hamartia, but also suffer misfortune, arousing pity and fear in the audience. Although Shakespeare’s characters suffer a greater deal from the tragic flaw of impulsiveness, and not so much from hamartia, the play Romeo and Juliet meets much of the criteria for an Aristotelian tragedy because it consists of the essential elements of plot and character.

First and foremost, Aristotle states that a tragedy must consist of a plot exhibiting “unity of action” and also hold magnitude. To begin, “Romeo and Juliet” plays with action revolving around the story or fate, not the characters. Thus, the play consists of “unity of action” because the characters are at the mercy of fate, rather than themselves. Scattered throughout the play are examples proving unity of action. In the prologue, the reader is told the fact that Romeo and Juliet are “star- cross’d lovers” (Prologue.6.). Consequently, the reader can infer that the characters are fated to be together. Also contained within the prologue is that fact that the families have bred an “ancient grudge…to new mutiny” (Prologue.3), so they too are fated to bereavement and tragedy. This concrete example further emphasizes the commanding role of fate throughout the play, and the passive role of the characters. An abstract piece of evidence lies in the nature of the characters. As Romeo and Juliet grow, it is required “that they separate themselves from their parents by forming with a member of the opposite sex” (Coppelia. 62). This statement emphasizes the inevitability of fate, proving that the choice to be passive when it comes to love is not within the lover’s control. Due to this fact is the reason Romeo climbs the wall and proposes to Juliet under her balcony, and the servants feel as if they too are part of the feud. Fate drives the drama of the play, exerting the greatest force in the book no matter of outside forces, fate is inevitable. Secondly, an Aristotelian tragedy must expose “magnitude” or complexity. There is no doubt the this twenty-five thousand eight-hundred fifty-two word play has magnitude in terms of length, but also in terms of universal meaning. Firstly, the complexity of the plot can be revealed through the thoughts and diction of the characters. For example, Romeo is in a state of unclear tangled emotions evident through his monologue “O brawling love, O loving hate, … O heavy lightness, serious vanity,” (I.i.181-183). Through his thoughts and diction, Romeo comes to exhibit the complexity of emotions and impulsiveness. In addition, “Love, in its many forms, is an important theme in the play.” (Novel guide.1). What this means and how it applies to universal meaning of the play is made clear by the many ways Shakespeare utilizes characters to emphasize the role of fate and violence. Mercutio and the Nurse speak in crude terms of love, often referring to its physical side. Romeo’s love represents simple childish infatuation. The love Paris displays toward Juliet is an independent love, he is not marrying Juliet, rather her fortune. These examples exhibit the complexity of the plot and its universal meaning. While it’s true that plot is the most important part in a tragedy, it is not complete without character.

Although the play contains “unity of action” in accordance with the theme as well as the plot, there is, then, the criterion of tragic character: the protagonists fall from good to bad fortune, and bring about their own untimely deaths. Initially, the protagonists effect their own untimely deaths, this change “should come about as the result, not of vice, but of some great error or frailty in a character.” (McManus. 1999). In other words, the reason the character falls is due to a “tragic flaw” the character imposes. For example, Romeo is wealthy because of his family, as the play progresses he falls in love with Juliet. Because of the inevitability of fate, he dies by her side. This example brings to light the falling of a character, from good fortune to bad fortune, thus Romeo is an Aristotelian character. In addition, Romeo admits he is a “fortunes fool!” (III.i.42), and the reader is able to infer that Romeo is alluding to the traps set by fate he keeps falling into. As a result of Tybalt’s death, more inevitable complications arise, which descend Romeo into despair. This example goes to further prove that no matter how Romeo chooses to do things, he will lose his good fortune. In the second place, the protagonist must bring about their own untimely downfall. This will not happen because the character is morally weak, but because “he does not know enough” and because of “the inevitability of its consequences” (Barbara. 1999). As was previously stated, bad fortune (such as death) should come because of some great “error” or “frailty in the character”: in terms of Romeo, this “error” is impulsiveness. With that in mind, the greatest episode in the play proving this point is when Balthazar reports to Romeo carrying erroneous information of Juliet’s death. Because of Romeo’s tragic flaw, impulsiveness, and because Romeo “does not know enough”, he travels to Verona to die by his love’s side.  As Juliet lays unconscious, Romeo remarks “Thou art not conquered… and death’s pale flag is not advanced there.” (V.iii.104-105). This quote adds meaning to the point earlier bringing to mind that the reason the protagonist falls is not because they are “ morally weak” but because “ they do not know enough”.

A masterpiece created by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet has endured throughout the decades. It is full of instances that are inevitable and characters that arouse pity and fear in the audience. Throughout the play, Shakespeare acknowledges fate as a terrific adversary, thus the plot turns complex, and because no outside force can influence fate, the plot also becomes united. In respect to the play containing pity and fear arousing character, as well as a united complex plot, “Romeo and Juliet” is an Aristotelian tragedy. All acceptable tragedy are like a clock: all clocks contain a face, which give you time plain and simple; however, what lays under, the gears, the effort, the screws, the complexity, the underlying work, the true beauty. Without understanding what lies at the heart, and its connections to our lives, a tragedy holds no meaning.

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, you can give your essay a title other than the prompt.  A good essay title will answer the question of the prompt and capture the theme of the essay.  I am assuming that “Is “Romeo and Juliet” an Aristotelian tragedy?” is your title?

I will address general editing of the essay, because that will help your essay flow better, as well as content.  For example, get rid of the comma after the first word.  It does not need to be there.  Also, you are not using semicolons correctly.  Think of a semicolon as a period.  You use a semicolon where you would use a period, except that you want to keep two clauses together in the same sentence.  Thus, a semicolon will connect two independent clauses (which are complete sentences).  You can learn more about independent clauses in my links below.  Instead of semicolons, you want to use commas.  Commas are used to separate regular phrases and subordinate clauses (which are not complete sentences).  In other words, be careful where you use semicolons and use them only where you know you can use a period.

Now, that being said, when you are talking about flow your best bet is to use the least amount of punctuation you can get away with.  For example, this clarifies your first sentence and improves the flow.

Tragedy is what binds humans in an infinite circle, encompassing the complexity of emotions, enriching that which we hold closest to our hearts, able to stimulate the melody of life.

The words are not changed at all—only the punctuation changed. 

When discussing flow, however, there is one other essential element that must be considered.  This is paragraph length.  At this point your essay is comprised of four paragraphs.  You have one short introduction paragraph and two very long body paragraphs, and one short conclusion paragraph.  I suggest arranging your two middle paragraphs into at least three paragraphs, so that they are not as long and your essay flows better.  I understand that you have developed your essay around the two points of plot and character, and you have a paragraph for each.  However, just because you have two points does not mean that you need two paragraphs.  You might consider breaking plot into two sub-points so that you can follow the rule of three and have three paragraphs.  I have included a link below to a web site on five paragraph essays.

I suggest breaking the paragraphs at the point where you say, “Secondly, an Aristotelian tragedy must expose “magnitude” or complexity.”  You have in a way already broken it yourself.  Your two subpoints for plot can then be fate and complexity.  With these modifications, your essay will flow better.  I think you have a wonderful essay and you are on the right track.

robyn-bird96 | Student

I think you could I also use a stronger claim (or thesis statement, whichever you prefer).  What you have written as your claim is:

Although Shakespeare’s characters suffer a greater deal from the tragic flaw of impulsiveness, and not so much from hamartia, the play Romeo and Juliet meets much of the criteria for an Aristotelian tragedy because it consists of the essential elements of plot and character.

It is wordy and unclear, and a weak claim detracts from a strong essay.  A strong claim sets the tone of the piece as well as reveals what you will be proving.  For example, instead, you can say:

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet emulates an Aristotelian tragedy specifically through the exploration of the elements of plot, character, and tragic flaws.

Wiggin42 | Student

In addition to general grammar and punctuation editing, breaking up your paragraphs into smaller ones focused on only one point will help the essay flow better. Big chunks of text are not only daunting but long winding and break your flow. From paragraph to paragrah, the use of transitions such as however, yet, in addition to, nevertheless, will help with flow and will better link your ideas together. 

Good Luck!

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