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The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
Critical Lens Essay
Someone once said, "All literature shows us the power of emotion. It is emotion, not reason that motivates characters in literature." This means that all literature is an expression of emotion and it is the emotion that is the main character, and often the setting and theme as well. It is not the reasoning within the story that draws you in, but rather how the story deals with the emotions we all have felt. It provides us with a possible scenario of the impact of focusing only on emotion and losing focus on reason. The power of emotion driving literary characters to see their emotions through, make us wish we could feel so strongly about something or someone and the way we would all like to think we would see our emotions through. Atticus Finch, from the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and Romeo Montague from Shakespeare's drama, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, both are driven only by their emotions. Both are so driven to see their powerful emotions, no matter what might happen to them, that their emotion and the opposite emotions of everyone else around them becomes the main character, setting and theme in these stories. You are drawn in to the emotion by asking would I have the courage to stand up to my home town full of racism to seek justice for a black person as Atticus did in To Kill A Mockingbird? Could I be so in love, as Romeo was, that I would be willing to give up everything I had, my family, my position in society, even my own life. for the love of another person?
Atticus Finch, from the Harper Lee novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, bases all of his decisions and actions in the Tom Robinson trial, merely as a reaction to powerful emotion. First he accepts the case based upon the emotional racist state of the town condemning Tom Robinson primarily because he is black. Second, he is driven by his emotional belief in everyone getting a fair trial and having the same access to justice, no matter their race. Atticus is fully aware of the racism that exists in his town, but he did not take the time to consider that the violence and hate of that racism can easily be turned on him and his family.
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A literary element used in To Kill a Mockingbird is setting. The setting was used to help develop the fact that Atticus does not think too much before he accepted the case. To Kill a Mockingbird was set in a southern, racist town, at a time when blacks were looked down upon and discriminated against. Just the racism alone was enough to drive Atticus. He wanted this to change, and felt very strongly on this issue. Another literary element used in To Kill a Mockingbird is symbolism. The mockingbird is used to symbolize something that is harmless. They only sing and make music for others to enjoy and to kill one is a sin. Both Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are harmless individuals, who never intend to hurt a soul. Yet Tom's life is lost, and this is like shooting a mockingbird. As Scout said, "to hurt Boo Radley too would be like killing a mockingbird." Atticus put everything he had: his career, his status in the town and his and his family's safety on the line to fight for an innocent man and against the prejudice ideas of the south.
Romeo Montague, from William Shakespeare's drama, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, also bases all of his decisions and actions, including his marriage and death, on his powerful emotional love for Juliet Capulet, ignoring the consequences for him, Juliet and their families. Once again powerful emotion, more than the people in the story, is the main character, setting and theme. Romeo and Juliet are focused on their deep love for each other, in contrast to all of the hate between their families that surrounds them. Characterization was used in The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, to show Romeo's strong, rash emotions. From the beginning, Romeo is portrayed as an extremely dramatic and emotional character, from one minute being lovesick over Rosaline, to the next, being madly in love with Juliet, to killing someone that threatens that love, to finally killing himself. Romeo never really reasons what he is doing, he just does it. Another literary element used in The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is hyperbole. Shakespeare uses hyperbole as an exaggerated way to show how rash and driven by emotion Romeo is. This exaggeration through hyperbole is used to help the reader better see how dramatic and emotional Romeo is. Romeo Montague, from The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is so driven by emotion he is willing to lose his family, status in society, wealth, comfort, freedom and even his life for his deep emotional love for Juliet.
"All literature shows us the power of emotion. It is emotion, not reason that motivates characters in literature." In literary works, emotion often is the main character, played out by a person. This emotional power has a very strong hold on characters' decisions, without compromising because of the effect or impact on their lives. Two important examples of literature that illustrate this point are Romeo Montague, from Shakespeare's drama, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, and Atticus Finch, from Harper Lee's, To Kill a Mockingbird, both are characters who embody pure powerful emotion, in deeply emotional settings and in stories with deeply emotional themes. They see their emotions through, and let the reader wonder if they would have the strength to put everything they care about on the line for such powerful emotional commitments.