What makes Romeo a genuine tragic hero?

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A tragic hero is generally a central or main character in a work who causes their own downfall, demise, or tragedy. Readers can justifiably consider Romeo the tragic hero for several reasons. First, he knowingly entered into a secret relationship with the daughter of his father's arch enemy. This was poor decision number one. Next, Romeo married her with great speed and before he could even make it to the bedroom that evening, he stopped off to hang with the boys. This was unfortunate because he made a decision that jeapordized his relationship with Juliet even further: out of revenge for one of his friends, he killed Juliet's cousin. This was poor decision number two. Finally, near the end, the Friar and Juliet work out a plan to get the lovers together. It appears as if they will be able to work things out. But, Romeo gets some bad information and acts irrationally on it. Romeo, believing Juliet dead, kills himself right in front of her awakening body. This completes his cycle of bad decisions and solidifies his ability to be a tragic hero that fits the definition greater than most any character in history.