Romeo and Juliet vs. a Farewell to Arms

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While both A Farewell to Arms and The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet have traits that define them as a tragedy, one of the stories is a bit more tragic than the other.

In both stories, the protagonists are noble figures with depth of soul. Tybalt sees Romeo and sends a servant to fetch his rapier. Capulet overhears Tybalt and reprimands him, telling him that Romeo is well regarded in Verona, and that he will not have Romeo harmed at his feast. This was depicted when Capulet said “He bears him like a portly gentleman / And to say truth, Verona brags of him / To be a virtuous and well-governed youth” (1, 5, 65-67). In the city of Verona, Romeo has a reputation for being a virtuous and well-behaved youth of noble status. While Romeo shows that he is a noble figure, Henry shows that he fits this description better. Henry is in a hospital when his friend Rinaldi goes to visit him. He tells Henry that he will be decorated for his heroism in battle, but Henry protests, declaring that he displayed no heroism. After Rinaldi asked Henry if he has done anything heroic to deserve the medal, Henry replies by saying "No. I was blown up while we were eating cheese” (pg. 63). Henry’s unemotional reaction to being wounded displays his stoicism. He exhibits neither despair at the wound itself nor excitement at Rinaldi’s promise that the wound will bring him glory. Henry makes it clear that he has no interest in being decorated with medals. He is a humble person for not accepting the medals.

Another feature that defines both works of literature as a tragedy is that both main characters have a tragic flaw. Romeo and Benvolio decide to go to the ball, where Romeo met Juliet and fell in love with her. Straight after the ball, Romeo goes to the Capulet household to talk to Juliet. At this time Romeo, without considering the consequences, asks Juliet to marry him. This was displayed when Romeo said “Th' exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.” (2, 2, 127). Romeo’s...
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