Romeo and Juliet

Unity in Shakespeare's Tragedies

Separating qualities common to one 'set' or 'type' of Shakespeare's plays which are not common to the plays as a whole is a difficult task: it would no doubt be possible to find evidence of any feature uniting 'the Tragedies' within any of Shakespeare's plays, if one looked hard enough. This is not surprising if one considers that the one thing above all others that unites Shakespeare's plays is that they portray human life, and the nature of human life does not change. Thus the basis for each and every play is the same: only the circumstances change. Furthermore, all cases of tragedy are, paradoxically, unique and also very similar to everyday events (albeit extreme examples of them), and both parts of this paradox are necessary for the tragedy to work. If the tragic events were not set apart and special in some way, they would be dismissed as everyday occurrences, and if they were not close to common experience the audience would not empathise with the characters. Either way the element of tragedy would be lost. I firmly believe that what Shakespeare was interested in exploring in his plays was the way in which people react to different situations, both psychologically and through actions....

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