Romeo & Juliet
Tragedy Cornell Notes
Tragedy vs. Comedy
*A tragedy is a narrative about
serious and important actions
that end unhappily, usually
with the deaths of the main
*In some tragedies, the
disaster hits totally innocent
characters; in others the main
characters are in some ways
responsible for their downfall.
Shakespeare’s tragic plays
typically follow a 5-part pattern.
Establishes the setting
Introduces some of the main characters
Explains the background of the story
Reader learns the main conflict
Rising Action
Series of complications
These occur as the main characters take action to resolve
their problems
Crisis or Turning Point
Moment when choice made by the
main characters determines the
direction of the action
This is either upward to a happy
ending (COMEDY) or downward to
a unhappy ending (TRAGEDY)
The turning point is the dramatic
and tense moment when the forces
of conflict come together
Falling Action
Events that result from the action
taken at the turning point
This usually locks the characters
deeper and deeper into disaster
With each event, we see the
characters falling straight into
tragedy (It may even anger you
as a reader, but you can’t do
anything about it! Boo hoo…)
Climax & Resolution
This occurs at the end of
the play
Usually in a tragedy, with
the play ends with the
death of the main
In the resolution, all loose
parts of the plot are tied up
and the play is over.
Guided Question #1
Sentence frames to help…but you really don’t need them! Trust me.
A tragic event that has occurred in my life would be _______________.
I recall this event to be _____________________________________.
At that time, I thought/felt/reacted _____________________________.
Looking back on this, I believe _______________________________.
Background Info. on Romeo and
Most of Shakespeare’s plays are based on
stories that were already well-known to
his audiences.
Romeo and Juliet was based on a long
narrative poem by Arthur Brooke in 1562.
A story about “star crossed lovers”
doomed to disaster by FATE. People of
this era believed their birthday
determined the course of their lives, but
Shakespeare revises the play to which
Romeo and Juliet make their own
decisions that lead to their own disasters.
Guided Question #2
Do this on your own without the help of sentence frames. YOU CAN
Sample response by a student from last year:
I don’t really believe in fate due to my cynical mindset. People
control their own destinies. It depends on how they plan to deal
with the events during the course of their lives. One may be put
into a complex situation, but it may be a cause and effect
situation. One’s ancestors may have caused or contributed to
something in the past, such as status in society, and one must
either accept it or change it. As the saying goes, “You are your
own disaster.” It’s what one makes of life that counts.
about ….LOVE!
Put these Cornell Notes into your Current Work section of
your English binder.
Write your name on the half sheet that I give to you in class.

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