Why is Romeo a tragic hero, as seen in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?
Aristotle has given us the most commonly accepted definition of a tragic hero in his book Poetics. Aristotle defines a tragic hero as one who is of high social standing. In other words, a tragic hero is not just a peasant or a common man because seeing a ruler or leader fall is for more tragic than just the common man. A tragic hero must also be a generally noble, or "good and decent" person ("Aristotle & the Elements of Tragedy"). The tragic hero won't also be a villain; instead, he is someone the reader or audience will feel did not deserve his fate because of his general goodness. However, the tragic hero must also have what is considered to be a "fatal flaw" ("Aristotle"). In other words, while the tragic hero is a good person, he is not a perfect person. He has some character flaw or "moral blindness" or makes an "error" that leads to his downfall ("Aristotle"). So in order to see how Romeo fits the definition of a tragic hero, all you have to do is consider those three things. As we are limited in space, below are a couple of ideas to help get you started.
Romeo certainly is a character with high social standing. We know he has high social standing because his father is a Lord, which is a noble title. In fact, Shakespeare makes a point in his opening prologue of describing the two feuding families as being "[t]wo households, both alike in dignity," and the word dignity can be translated as "rank" or "station" (Prologue.1; Random House Dictionary"). While a Lord, or the only son of a Lord who will inherit the title, is not the highest social position, like a prince or king, a Lord is certainly a leader of...
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If following Aristotle's definition of the tragic hero, Romeo is first a tragic hero because of his good standing in society. The Montague family is one of the best known families in Verona. He can secondly be considered a tragic hero because he is a good and descent person, and there are no actions that lead us to believe he would grow to be anything other than good and descent. Perhaps most importantly, his is a tragic hero because of his fatal flaw--loving the woman who is his family's sworn enemy in secret, rather than being forthcoming, and attempting to change the future of Verona by ending the families' feud.