The Most Tragic Comedy of "Romeo and Juliet" Analytical Essay by Nicky

A brief analysis of "Romeo and Juliet" as a tragic comedy.
# 150657 | 886 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2012 | US
Published on Mar 29, 2012 in Drama and Theater (English) , Literature (English) , Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)

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The paper asserts that although this "Romeo and Juliet" has been performed as a tragedy for centuries, it is possible to read the play as an incredibly dark and even sinister comedy. The paper posits that the emotional extremity of the characters in both the first and second half of the play can definitely be read as comedic, even in the most intense moments of drama, and looks at Baz Luhrmann's 1997 film version of this play as one that highlights the turning point between comedy and tragedy. The paper admits that there is little likelihood of mounting a successful production of "Romeo and Juliet" as a comedy, but contends that this has more to do with the consistency of public perception than anything inherent to the text itself.

From the Paper:

"First and foremost, it should be noted that the story was in no way an invention of Shakespeare's, but rather--as with almost all of his other plays--there was a long and substantial history of the same or similar stories from which it is certain Shakespeare drew (Riverside 1101). The problems that exist in his version, however, are unique, and must be considered purposeful. Specifically, the play is problematic because it begins as a high comedy and suddenly turns into a tragedy that "offends against [Shakespeare's] own criteria for tragedy by allowing mere chance to determine the destiny of the hero and heroine" (Riverside 1101). It is quite possible, however, that this statement of the issue has the problem backwards. Though the play has been performed as a tragedy for centuries, it is very possible to read the play as an incredibly dark and even sinister comedy.
"Interpreting a script when there is no real evidence surrounding the original performances of the play, and especially when the amount of editorial interpretation of the printed word is as great as it is with Romeo and Juliet, is at best a piece of guesswork. When dealing with a script of Shakespeare's, the notion has been proposed that the script is little more than "the incomplete written trace of a dramatic work which can only fully be realized in performance" (Dobson 235)."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Dobson, Michael. "Shakespeare on the Page and on the Stage." The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare. New York: Cambridge University Press 2001.
  • Evans, G. Blakemore and M. Tobin, eds. The Riverside Shakespeare. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
  • Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. in The Riverside Shakespeare.

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