What is Romeo and Juliet's tragic flaw, and how does it lead to their destruction?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A tragic flaw is the flaw that brings about the downfall of the tragic hero.  Aristotle suggested that the tragic hero is doomed by forces mostly out of his control.  The most important point is that the hero is otherwise noble, and the tragic flaw is his downfall.

Romeo and Juliet share a flaw: overreliance on passion rather than common sense.  In other words, they act without thinking.  All they care about is how much they want each other, and they don’t really worry about the consequences.

In Romeo and Juliet’s case, they tend to bring out the downfall of each other.  For example, when Juliet tells Romeo her family will kill him if they see him, he responds:

I have night's cloak to hide me from their eyes;

And but thou love me, let them find me here.(80)

My life were better ended by their hate

Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love. (Act II, Scene 2)

Romeo tells her that no one will see him, and he’d rather die than not spend time with her.


oudyemil579's profile pic

oudyemil579 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

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Their flaw is their impulsiveness. The entire story happens over the course of a few days. Romeo kills himself after he sees Juliet "dead". If he had waited, there would have been no need as she was, obviously not dead.

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