Romeo & Juliet Characters....Who arethe importance of the characters?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a Shakespearean tragedy, the characters are absolutely essential to the plot. For, it is the tragic flaw of one or more of the characters that develops the theme(s) through their actions and interactions with other characters, as well as through their inner conflicts.  In other words, without the characters, there is no plot as they as what moves the plot.

For instance, in Romeo and Juliet, it is the minor characters who present the conflict between the Montagues and the Capulets; then Romeo advances this conflict by falling in love with Juliet and insisting that the Friar marry the two of them.  Complications arise from this marriage, and the plot reaches a climax when Tybalt of the Capulets argues and kills Mercutio, Romeo's friend.  This action leads Romeo to kill Tybalt in revenge; he receives banishment from Verona, and Juliet despairs of the tragic events.  She rashly runs to the friar when her father insists that she marry another man since she cannot do so. Again, the priest thinks he has found a panacea, but again the best laid plans do not work out and tragically, both Romeo and Juliet take their lives in their "star-crossed" and impetuous lives. 

Through the narrative of the tragic flaws of their youth and impulsive behavior, Shakespeare makes clear his theme of youth vs. age, impulsiveness vs. thoughtfulness.  Through the dialogues and monlogues of the characters this theme and others are developed.  But, also, through their poetic dialogue, Shakespeare provides his audience beauty and delightful humor in words, light/dark imagery, imaginative metaphors--aesthetic enjoyment to accompany his analysis of human nature.