2 December 2011
Heroism to Tragedy
Heroes come in every way, shape, and form but that does not mean they are perfect people. Romeo is the ideal example of a tragic hero, him being handsome, smart, and rich that it becomes easy to overlook his shallow intellect. In William Shakespeare’s tragic play Romeo and Juliet, Romeo’s perfections and downfalls make him a tragic hero. Romeo’s portrayal of discipline shows the first quality of tragic hero. About Romeo, Lord Capulet says, “He bears him like a portly gentleman, / And, to say truth, Verona brags of him/ To be a virtuous and well-governed youth,” (Shakespeare 1.5.75-77). This quote shows that Romeo can be a genuinely good person. Lord Capulet proved this, being his greatest enemy, by speaking of Romeo in terms of nobility and credibility. Romeo first becomes cognizant of the Capulet’s feelings when going, uninvited, to their party by saying, “What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse? / Or shall we on without apology,” (Shakespeare 1.4.1-2). He does not want to intrude and make trouble for him and his friends. That conveys his discomfort in the face of conflict. He never fails to carry himself in a dignified manner.
Throughout the play, he tries his hardest to keep the peace. After his marriage to Juliet, Tybalt tries to fight him and Romeo simply says, “I do protest I never injured thee/But love thee better than thou canst devise/Till thou shalt know the reason of my love./And so, good Capulet, which name I tender/As dearly as mine own, be satisfied,” (Shakespeare 3.1.70-74). Romeo was trying to hint to Tybalt about his marriage to Juliet. This shows that not even a threat of death could sadden Romeo on his day of happiness because of his marriage to his true love. Secondly, Romeo may have good qualities but has many flaws. His biggest problem pertains to the way he looks at women, looking at their outer beauty and not inner worth. “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! /It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night/ As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear-,“ (Shakespeare 1.5.51-53). Said Romeo speaking about Juliet he also comments, “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it sight, / For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night,” (Shakespeare 1.5.59-60).
He falls in and out of love very fast. This quote shows his disparity and lack of depth. Romeo’s thoughts of women only go skin deep, which is why he has a “player” status. His transgressions are widely known in the city of Verona. Romeo’s own Friar Lawrence says, “Is Rosaline, that thou didst love so dear, / So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies/ Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes,” (Shakespeare 2.3.70-72). The Friar is calling out Romeo as to the fact that he changes his love interest like the changing of the seasons. His falling in and out of love shows us his childish and irresponsible outlook on life. Romeo also portrays himself as a complainer and as being self-centered. In a desperate attempt for his friend, Benvolio, to feel sorry for him he says, “Tut, I have lost myself. I am not here./ This is not Romeo. He is some other where,” (Shakespeare 1.1.205-206).
Therefore, Romeo’s perfections, downfalls, and his unfortunate death make him a mirror example of a tragic hero. William Shakespeare accurately illustrates the rushed and ill-advised ways of love. This young man went on a crusade to be with his one true love defines a young innocence and a blind bravery.