There Cannot Be Romeo and Juliet with Happy Ending

When hearing about Romeo and Juliet, one usually asociates it only with love and bad ending. The purpose of this essay is to show another “darker” aspects besides love. It will be shown that the play is not only a simple love story about two lovers who are out of luck. This examination should support the statement that everything that happens in the plot is not a chance of bad luck but is governed by human. The method to support that statement is the depiction of particular characters as well as a more complex description of the plot. Finding of this essay is that everything within the story heads for the particular ending which there in Romeo and Juliet is. Every act of human concludes in death, which might be percieved as bad ending; however, it will be shown that the ending is undoubtedly sad but not bad at all.

Question of Joy and Despair in Shakespeare´s Romeo and Juliet is rather complicated and complex issue. Examining the characters according to their nature, whether it is good or bad, reveals interesting features which Shakespear included into his work.

Romeo and Juliet is a story of ambivalence. A story of Juliet, faith, hope and tranquillity on one side and Romeo, rush, action and movement on the other. Juliet´s main attribute is that she is static and unchangeable. “From beginig to end Juliet is mode of one piece. […] She is never politely weary of the world or genteely astonished at anything, not even her husband´s banishment.”(P.S. 88-89). She might be described as the “head” and Romeo as the “legs.” Juliet´s oppression is the burden of her family, which will not allow her to love a man from another descent . She would not fleet away, she can only be taken away, in the latter context, by Paris. Therefore, she makes up a plan with the Nurse but this plan is not fulfilled because of Romeo´s fervour.

Romeo, on the other hand, is a total contrast to Juliet. He is a pilgrim. In Renaissance, historical meaning of Romeo [ru:mio] was a pilgrim to Rome. No matter what happens, everywhere in the story Romeo always approaches Juliet. He represents the movement and consequently the fervour. Following the plot, it is exactly Romeo´s rush and haste which complicates the sequence of events which might have end up differently.

Professor Kilroy claims that the juxtaposition of tragedy and comedy is an important aspect of the play which emphasises the sad ending of the story. The very half of the plot is literary a comedy. There is not a single inkling which might indicate such a sad ending of the play. Some of the characters even act as comedians and try to relax the atmosphere between the two houses. Suddenly, Romeo´s nature and temperament reveals, his rashness and fervour turn up and result in a slaughter. Only when Romeo kills Mercucio, the whole plot transfers to a tragedy and heads straight to its inevitable end.

From this moment on, the story goes gradually down to the darkness. Every action which was to result in lovers´ luck is an opposite effect. The play became a stage and the characters spectators of their own desparate actions which were to take them to the suicidal end.

The last scene shows lovers´s physical perishing and the contemplation of two solitary souls. Despair is away. The act of suicide, their dying for each other should be a proof that they were created one for the other. They were not a couple to be fortunate in this world. If they got married, it would not be a happy ending, it would not be the ending which this exquisite and exceptional romance deserves. A happy ending would be a fake, a stereotype, a fairy tale. This sad ending belongs to the plot as Juliet belongs to Romeo. Only now are the lovers together in the timeless orchard for all eternity.



Arden Edition of Romeo and Juliet.


Nevo, Ruth. “Tragic Form in Romeo and Juliet”. Studies in English Literature.

Tanselle, G. Thomas. “Time in Romeo and Juliet” Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 4

P. S. “What a Wife Was Juliet” Living, Vol. 1, No. 4, Autumn (Nov., 1939), pp. 87-95 Web.


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