What we can learn from a tragedy

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy, which means that we know right from the start that the play will end badly. Because of this, the play is instructive about how we should go about certain things in life, such as love or important life choices. By watching Romeo and Juliet struggle with this, we indirectly rehearse our own handling of such things and perhaps we become better at recognizing our own flaws. 

In the paragraphs below, we outline two possible messages of this play, focusing on the portrayal of love. Obviously, there are other messages that may be found as well.

The message is ambiguous

More than anything, the message of Shakespeare’s play depends on what we consider dangerous and wrong in the play: Is it the patriarchal, old-fashioned rules of society or is it the selfish wishes of the individual? The love between the young lovers is what drives them to defy their families and the law. The question is whether we are to see this as a positive or negative representation of love - whether Shakespeare meant this as a tribute to love or a warning of the dangers of too much passion. This ambiguity allows for two very different messages.

Love and humanism conquer all

If we go with modern humanistic values, the love between Romeo and Juliet is good and pure...

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