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Ignorance in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Human ignorance plays a huge role in a tragedy. Without ignorance everyone

would know what is happening and the problem would never occur. This is especially

relevant with Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”. There are many cases within the

play that show that the characters are ignorant of what is happening somewhere else. The

characters either does not know that something is occurring or the character does not

have the whole truth. That is what makes the whole story interesting.

One example of ignorance in Romeo and Juliet is the scene where Tybalt notices

Romeo and a Capulet party. To be prejudice a person must be ignorant. Tybalt thinks to

himself that since Romeo is a Montague he will cause trouble. A few quotes from the

play will prove that Tybalt is ignorant.

Tybalt: ‘Tis he that villain Romeo.

Tybalt: It fits when such a villain is a guest. I’ll not endure him.

Tybalt: Why, uncle, ’tis a shame.

All of these lines are said to Tybalt’s uncle, Lord Capulet, by Tyblat. Right from the start

Tybalt says that Romeo is a villain, a trouble maker. He states that he will not stand for

such a horrible person to be at the party. Tybalt feels that it is a shame.

Being ignorant also means to not know the whole truth. The scene where Juliet

takes the magic drug and dies is an example of this. When the nurse goes to wake Juliet

the next morning she is shocked to find Juliet dead on the day she was suppose to marry

Paris. What the rest of the Capulets do not know is that Juliet will awake later at her

grave. Here are a few lines from the play that show that they do not know that Juliet will


Lady Capulet: O me, O me! My child, my only life! Revive, look up, or I will die

with thee! Help, help! Call help.

Nurse: She’s dead, deceased; she’s dead! Alack the day!

Those lines would not be said if they knew that she would awake later.

One major scene which is filled with ignorance is the last one. This scene is

where Romeo seeks his dead love. When Romeo sees Juliet dead he instantly falls apart

emotionally. Romeo ends up killing himself a moment before Juliet wakes up. When

Juliet wakes up and finds Romeo dead she kills herself. The result of the ignorance of the

two lovers is that they die. If Romeo received Friar Laurence’s message first he would

have known the whole truth.

Marlow’s Epiphany in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Epiphany in Heart of Darkness

Marlow, in the novel “The Heart of Darkness,” experiences an epiphany, or a dramatic moment in which a character intuitively grasps the essential nature or meaning of some situation.

The moment in which Marlow experiences his epiphany is right after the helmsman gets killed by natives, which are associated with Kurtz. The thing that Marlow realizes is the savagery of man and the corruption of the ivory trade. The actual change takes place when Marlow sees the helmsman die. Marlow sees the death take place and is shocked. “The side of his head hit the wheel twice, and the end of what appeared a long cane clattered round and knocked over a little campstool. … my feet felt so very warm and wet that I had to look down. … It was the shaft of a spear that…had caught him in the side just below the ribs. I had to make and effort to free my eyes from his gaze and attend to the steering. … I declare it looked as though he would presently put to us some question in an understandable language; but he died without uttering a sound, without moving a limb, without twitching a muscle. … ‘He is dead,’ murmured the fellow, immensely impressed. ‘No doubt about it,’ said I.” When this happened, Marlow realized the savagery of man, horror of death, and the corruption of the ivory trade. He realizes that in the ivory trade, that the ivory is more valuable than human life and that traders will do almost anything to get it. Marlow also realizes man’s savagery in the event that man puts greater value on riches than on human life. This is the epiphany of Marlow in “The Heart of Darkness.”

The epiphany of Marlow in “The Heart of Darkness” has significance in the overall story. The theme of the story is how every man has inside himself a heart of darkness and that a person, being alienated like Kurtz, will become more savage. Marlow, in his epiphany, realizes the savagery of man and how being alienated from modern civilization causes one to be savage and raw. This savagery is shown especially in the death of the helmsman, which is where Marlow’s epiphany takes place, but the savagery is also show in Kurtz. The link that Kurtz has to the natives and the death of the helmsman is that the natives work for Kurtz.

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