The Heartbreaking Ending: A Tragic Mood in Shakespeare’s Love Story Most people think of Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, as a love story. But as the title suggests, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is just that: a tragedy. The narrative is about the struggles of Romeo and Juliet’s love despite the century-long feud between their families. Like many tragedies, which end with fatality, the play ends with the deaths of the “star-crossed lovers.” Throughout the play, Shakespeare conveys strong feelings, or moods. In Act Five, Scene Three of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses imagery, irony, and symbolism to create a tragic mood.
The first device Shakespeare uses to create a tragic mood is imagery. After the bodies of Romeo, Juliet, and Paris are found, Lady Capulet describes the scene in Verona:
O, the people in the street cry ‘Romeo,’
Some ‘Juliet,’ and some ‘Paris’; and all run With open outcry toward our monument. (V.iii.191-193) These lines show the chaotic aftermath of the death of the three adolescents. This creates a tragic mood because the audience gets a picture of a sad, weeping community. The sense of distress and grief depicts tragedy and sorrow throughout the town.
A second device used is irony. There are many examples used in Act Five. One instance of dramatic irony is when the audience knows that Juliet is under a sleeping potion, but Romeo does not, and he is about to kill himself. When Romeo enters the Capulet tomb, he sees Juliet and cries out:
Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty.
Though art not conquered. Beauty’s ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks
And death’s pale flag is not advanced there. (V.iii.92-96) Here Romeo is describing Juliet and how beautiful she is, even though she’s “dead.” She is actually beautiful because she is still alive! The audience feels so awful for Romeo, because right after he kills himself...
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