What is the real tragedy in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?What is the real tragedy in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most tragedies stem from a tragic flaw. The tragic flaw in this story is that there is no trust or communication between family members.  Power and control are the parental patterns of behavior that block any real line of communication to the children.  There are no real parents in this story!  The Friar and the Nurse don't have kids of their own, but they end up being the main mentors of the kids.  The Nurse was the closest thing to a mother that Juliet had and even she made horrible parental mistakes by letting the child do whatever she wanted rather than do what is best.  The selfish adults are the ones with the major tragic flaw!

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most devastating result of the play is brought about by the chaos that is engendered by the maelstrom of emotions in all the characters, old and young.  For, if the older members of Verona had been wiser and more cautious in making their decisions, perhaps the younger members of the drama would have been saved from destructive fates.  This tumultuous effect of irrationality is set in motion by the Prince who threatens death, by Friar Laurence who marries Romeo and Juliet without following the protocol of his Church, by Lord Capulet who becomes so irate that he issues an ultimatum to his daughter that she cannot obey.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I would agree that the real tragedy was in the hatred between the two families. The parents hated each other so much that their precious children chose death over telling them the truth. Juliet faked her death rather than tell her parents she was already married to Romeo. Romeo died rather than confess to the Prince and his parents that he was Juliet's husband. If he had told the truth, he might have taken her away with him or even prevented the death of Tybalt and his reason for banishment. The Prince says it all in his line "see what a scourge is laid upon your hate that heaven finds means to kill your joys with love."
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The real tragedy is that people keep doing what they think is best and it all turns out wrong.  EVeryone is trying to make things turn out well from their point of view.  Romeo is trying to stop a fight and ends up with Mercutio and Tybalt dead and himself having to run away.  Friar Laurence tries to help Romeo and Juliet and their families and ends up causing Romeo and Juliet to die.  It's all tragic because no one is really being a "bad guy" and yet things turn out so badly.

litlady33 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'd say the real tragedy is the fact that the adults are so self-consumed to allow all of the death to happen. If they weren't focused on their hate for each other and if they were paying the least bit of attention to what Romeo and Juliet were doing, they could have reprimanded them, grounded them for a month, and the whole situation would have been avoided.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the post arguing that the real tragedy of this play is that good motives backfire and produce completely unintended results. People make decisions, hoping to do good, but their decisions lead to extremely unfortunate consequences.  Much the same thing happens to Oedipus in Oedipus Rex.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The real tragedy is that everyone makes hasty decisions.  That is likely what led to the feud in the first place, and then it was irreversible.  It's why Mercutio dies, and why Romeo is banished.  Romeo did not get the letter in time telling him that Juliet was faking, and so they both died.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I see the tragedy of the young lovers embroiled in a family feud which they neither support not understand, but which forces them to their deaths. Their relationship is built on pure love,they are destroyed by pure hate.

sachinkarpe25 | Student

Hi, I am Sachin Karpe, the real tragedy in the story is relevant in the present generation and that is we are impatient and make hasty decisions.

lpahl | Student

The tradegy is that both Romeo and Juliet's family tried to what was right for their family but it all went wrong when Romeo and Juliet fell in love. 

oh...and Romeo and Juliet died....thats tragic

hani2912 | Student

I think a real tragedy it the social problems

amitsingh11582 | Student

Actually acording to me the real tragedy is not only the death of Romeo and Juliet in illusion of death of each other but What they got? who were responsible for the death of two eternal lovers...........nothing.

But still our society is not free from false pride and honour. This is real tragedy that we all are same as we were before.

What an irony :-We talk as.. God is love, but our socity never give appraisal to love. 

bernsb | Student

Romeo dies and doesn't get to sleep with juliet. :(

desotellestudio | Student

Yes.  Looks sort of like today - doesn't it?

janeleader | Student

The real tragedy is the lack of true relationships in the families and the corresponding errors and flaws exhibited by character behaviour.

pbjessop | Student

There are many levels of tragedy in R&J  the saddest being the adults in the work are dumb as door knobs.  They are  angry, petulant and  self-absorbed with their petty grievances and competitive need to 'be the best.'  The Nurse and Friar are the leaders of the parade here.  They are adult figures of trust and authority in the lives of R&J and they feel no conscience about leading two kids into plans that are deceiptful, filled with secrecy and lies.  What is Shakespeare doing with the 'tragedy.' with making us feel sorry for two kids who didn't have a lot of experience or wisdom?  He is warning us - not to assume that because somebody is in a position of authority that they are right. He is warning us to THINK about deceiving anybody because ultimately we will only be deceiving ourselves into thinking "I can get away with this."  Maybe, for a short time, a little while. But life is long and Shakespeare knew that only truth and what is right has the energy to last a life time.  Yes, sometimes the truth is hard and honesty is a lot of work - but so what? Living with yourself without guilt sure is waay better than realizing one dark night you are responsible for somebody's unhappiness.  Tragedy is warning + entertainment.  But only if you step back and think about it all.  Shakespeare and literature demand this of you, it is work, and you will be a finer, better human for paying attention to Shakespeare's ideas about being a good human being.

chrisb1722 | Student

In my view, and many of my student's views, the true tragedy of the play is not that Romeo and Juliet (among others) end up dying in the end of the play, although that is tragic...but the fact that these "two young lovers" who have their whole lives in front of them die before they can see the peace between the Capulets and the Montagues come to fruition.  They fought for what they believed in, risked exile from their families so they could be together, and the Friar even agreed to marry the two simply because he thought it would bring peace to the two families.  It did, but they didn't live to see it.  There-in lies the true tragedy.



wanderista | Student

I'd consider the tragedy to be the death of both Romeo and Juliet, and their quest for love failing in the worst of outcomes.

rukia684 | Student

the real tragedy is when although the two famillies hate eachother and romeo and julliet get married in secret, the real tragedy is when they both die as to it is a romance.

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Romeo and Juliet

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