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Activity Overview

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies. It is beneficial for students to understand why is considered so important. One reason is that it contains a tragic hero. This is a protagonist, typically of noble birth, destined for doom. In this play, Romeo clearly fits this description. The famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle, was the first to record the principle attributes of a tragic hero.

ATTRIBUTEDESCRIPTIONExample from Romeo and Juliet
HamartiaFlaw in the Character Romeo's flaw is his impulsive nature. He quickly falls in love and gets in fights.
HubrisExcessive Pride In his pride, Romeo forces Friar Lawrence to marry him and Juliet.
PeripeteiaReversal of Fortune Romeo kills Tybalt, and is banished from Verona.
AnagnorisisA Moment of Critical Discovery "Romeo, I just heard that Juliet of Verona is dead!"
NemesisFate that Cannot be Avoided The false poison that causes Juliet to appear dead, and the real poison that Romeo drinks to kill himself.
CatharsisAudience's Feeling of Pity or Fear After the Hero's Fall The lovers' deaths end the fighting. The families reconcile to the loss of those they love.
Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-10

Difficulty Level 4 (Difficult / Complex)

Type of Assignment Individual or Group

Type of Activity: Tragic Hero

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/1] Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows how Romeo can be considered a tragic hero.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify events of the play or characteristics of Romeo that fit into Aristotelian attributes of a tragic hero.
  3. Illustrate examples for Hamartia, Hubris, Peripeteia, Anagnorisis, Nemesis, and Catharsis.
  4. Write a short description below each cell that specifically relates Romeo as a tragic hero.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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