Channel 4 Learning


Homework High
English

Q. In the fight scene in Romeo and Juliet, which lead to Mercutio's death. Does this scene justify that Romeo was a tragic hero? and why?

The two families had already been warned by the Prince that any more fighting would result in serious consequences - everybody including the audience knew that as soon as the fighting began. However, what the audience and a few selected characters also know is that Romeo has just married Juliet, and so we see the repercussions far beyond a mere fight. You have to ask yourself: why did Romeo fight Tybalt? What pushed him over the edge? It was his loyalty to his friend. If only they could have left Romeo out of this particular brawl! Shakespeare refers back to the Ancient Greek tragedies here: they contained cycles of revenge and death, which were only ended when something absolutely disasterous happened. In this case, both families are shocked by the ending and we as an audience hope that's the end to the cycle of violence and killing. Romeo knew that he would be in major trouble if he got in another fight. And yet he had just seen his best friend killed. Tricky. Even worse for him personally is that he has just married the murderer's cousin! So an act of love that should have brought two families together just ended in tragedy. Think of all the things that follow: Romeo being banished, Juliet being betrothed to Paris and forced to marry, thr muddle over the messages - would any of this happened if Romeo hadn't been involved in the fight? So, Romeo the hero? Well, he's certainly tragic, but were his actions heroic? We would normally call somebody a hero if they saved somebody, not killed them. Did Romeo just let his own anger get in the way of reason? Or do you think that it was a noble thing to do, to avenge his friend's death? He certainly didn't think it through, even if he did think it for the best. And where did this leave poor Juliet? I think you will be able to see, from my questions, that you could argue for either side of your question. He is a hero in the way that he is prepared to fight for what he believes in (after all, the ancient Greeks and Romans thought that that type of attitude was "sweet and fitting"). But Romeo just didn't think through his actions, and acted on a passionate spur of the moment feeling on more than one occasion. So would you call him heroic?

Submitted by: Laura, (Age 14)

Back to full list of questions
Links
Fairground Spells
A highly interactive Key Stage 3 English site designed specifically to meet the needs of En3 Writing, Spelling and Punctuation.

Way with Words
Write poetry with Benjamin Zephaniah. The fun site also contains word games and a useful glossary.