Romeo & Juliet

Shakespeare: Alive In History

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Introduction to Shakepeare

Shakespeare was born in April 1564, and passed away on April 23rd 1616. He was married to Anne Hathaway and fathered three children. Shakespeare wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets and 2 poems, his works are studied all over the world. Shakespeare's plays have been performed in many, many languages, on thousands of stages and made into countless movies.

ROMEO & JULIET

The story is set in Verona, Italy. Two families are in a feud: the Montague's and the Capulet's. Romeo is a Montague and Juliet is a Capulet.

Romeo and Juliet meet at the masked ball that is held by Capulet, and they are instantly in love. Romeo asks Friar Lawrence to marry them and so he does, the next morning. But their love is forbidden, and eventually the rivalry between the two families ends with the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Peace is welcomed back in the city of Verona.

Romeo and Juliet 1996 - OFFICIAL TRAILER

HOW IT IS STILL RELEVANT

The plot of Romeo & Juliet is still relevant today because people can relate to it. The idea of forbidden love is used in many films, books, plays and even in real life, for example teenagers sneaking out at night to see each other, or parents not allowing lovers to be together for various reasons.

Many films have been based on Shakespeare, even though we may not know it. Some movies include:

- West Side Story (Romeo & Juliet)

- She's The Man (Twelfth Night)

- The Lion King (Hamlet)

- 10 Things I Hate About You (The Taming Of The Shrew)

- Warm Bodies (Romeo & Juliet)

- Gnomeo & Juliet (Romeo & Juliet)


Shakespeare is timeless and his works will continue to be studied for many years to come. He is truly the master of language and I think he always will be.

THEMES

FATE- From the very beginning, we know that the story of Romeo & Juliet will not be a happy ending, and will end in death and tragedy. In the prologue, it tells us that they are "star-crossed lovers". It has been said that it is Romeo and Juliet's destiny to die. It is fate that intervenes and causes Romeo to kill himself, because he thinks Juliet is dead. Juliet does not want to live without him, so she also kills herself.

"O Fortune, Fortune! All men call thee fickle.
If thou art fickle, what dost thou with him
That is renowned for faith? Be fickle, Fortune.
For then I hope thou wilt not keep him long,
But send him back." -Juliet

LOVE- For Romeo and Juliet, it is love at first sight. They meet at a party and are instantly in love. But is it really true love? There are many types of love, such as young love, romantic love, forbidden love, tragic love and physical love. Romeo and Juliet think they're in love when in reality, what they may love, is the feeling of their first love, the way it makes you feel, but it is not in fact true love. Romeo and Juliet even defy their families in the name of love.

"O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear—
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows
As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand
And, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight,
For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." - Romeo


HATE- Romeo and Juliet's families hate each other, which is why their love is forbidden. When there is the fight between Tybalt and Mercutio, Tybalt slays Mercutio. Romeo, who was best friends with Mercutio, is enraged, and so he fights and kills Tybalt who is Juliet's cousin. Because of this, he is banished. Later, in the end of the play, Romeo and Juliet both commit suicide. Then, the two families, who have been in a long feud, realise their mistakes, and their age old feud is brought to a close. This theme of hate is through all our books and movies today.

"This, by his voice, should be a Montague.—
Fetch me my rapier, boy. Page exits.
What dares the slave
Come hither covered with an antic face
To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?
Now, by the stock and honor of my kin,
To strike him dead I hold it not a sin." - Tybalt

THE CHARACTERS

Romeo & Juliet is very relatable because of all the different characters. We all know someone who we can relate to a character in the story. Here are some of the characters and their personalities:


Romeo who is the handsome, intelligent and charming gentleman. His fatal flaw is that he is impulsive, but he is not interested in violence and is deeply passionate. Romeo represents the charming gentlman, someone who people crush on.

"My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.” - Romeo


Juliet is the typically beautiful, romantic damsel in distress. She is quiet and obedient and never defies her parents. Although she does have an inner strength which we start to see when she falls in love with Romeo. When she is told that she is to marry Paris, she tells her father that she will not wed him. We can relate to Juliet, someone who is kind, obediant and gentle who also has a defiant streak.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose,

By any other word would smell as sweet." - Juliet


Mercutio, who is always making jokes with his good sense of humour and wit. He is also a realist and Romeo's best friend. Most people know someone who is humorous and funny; the jokester.

"If love be rough with you, be rough with love;
Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.
Give me a case to put my visage in:
A visor for a visor! What care I
What curious eye doth quote deformities?
Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me." - Mercutio


Tybalt, who is very short-tempered, tough, aggressive and cocky. He is always looking for a fight. However, Tybalt is also very loyal to his family, the Capulets. He is the epitome of hate. Tybalt represents that one person who is always angry, always looking for another fight.
"What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word,
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee." - Tybalt


Benvolio is a peacemaker. He tries to avoid conflict and attempts to tell others the same. Benvolio is also very trustworthy and reliable. He is good at giving wise advice and always tries to tell the truth. He is Romeo's cousin. Most people know someone who tries to keep the peace and someone they can tell their secrets to.

"I do but keep the peace: put up thy sword,
Or manage it to part these men with me." - Benvolio


Lord Capulet is Juliet's father and head of the family. At first he appears to be a good father and when Paris asks for Juliet's hand in marriage, he states she is too young and that he has to woo her and win her over. However, when Juliet defies him and does not want to marry Paris, he becomes angry, violent and calls her many horrendous names. He becomes violent towards Juliet, the nurse and Juliet's mother. He represents the forceful and demanding father.

"Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch!
I tell thee what—get thee to church a Thursday
Or never after look me in the face.
Speak not, reply not, do not answer me!
My fingers itch." - Lord Capulet


Friar Lawrence is a holy, trustworthy and well respected character. He is kindhearted and helps Romeo and Juliet throughout the play. It is Friar Lawrence that marries the star- crossed lovers, hoping to end the feud. Everyone should know someone who reminds them of Friar Lawrence, someone they can depend on in times of need.

"So smile the heavens upon this holy act,
That after hours with sorrow chide us not!" - Friar Lawrence


Paris is a relative of the Prince. Paris is well- mannered, handsome and wealthy. Unfortunately, he is not very romantic. He wishes to marry Juliet. Juliet's parents also want her to marry Paris, but she does not love him. It is arguable about whether Paris loved Juliet or not. Later, he is killed by Romeo, although in Baz Luhrmann's1996 version, he is not. Paris represents the cocky, persistant suitor.

"O, I am slain! If thou be merciful,
Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet." - Paris


The nurse is a very comical character and she makes many sexual jokes. She is the only other character apart from Friar Lawrence who knows of Romeo and Juliet's wedding. Because Lady Capulet, Juliet's mother, is very distant from her, the nurse has raised Juliet and thinks of Juliet like a daughter. Most people can relate to a loving motherly figure.

"I must another way,
To fetch a ladder by the which your love
Must climb a bird's nest soon when its dark." - The nurse

SHAKEPEARE'S LANGUAGE

Shakespeare was a master at writing. He had a very poetic technique, which shaped the English language. His writing is descriptive and emotional. The way Shakespeare writes is powerful. Somehow, he makes even the simplest sentence sound beautiful and hypnotic. His works are as timeless as love itself.

Some writing techniques he uses are:

- Oxymoron and antithesis for example, "Oh brawling love, O loving hate." - Romeo

- Pun. For example, "You have dancing shoes / With nimble soles. I have a soul of lead / so stakes me to the ground I cannot move." - Romeo

- Imagery. For example, "So shows a dove trooping with crows / As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows." - Romeo

- Paradox. For example, "My only love sprung from my only hate." - Juliet

- Rhyme. For example, "...Did my heart love till now, forswear it sight,

For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night." - Romeo

- Metaphor. For example, "But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun." - Romeo

- Soliloquy. For example, "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright" - Romeo

- Aside. For example, "She speaks." - Romeo

- Hyperbole. For example, “The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars, / As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven / Would through the airy region stream so bright / That birds would sing and think it were not night.” - Romeo

- Simile. For example, "Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear." - Romeo

The protagonists in the play are Romeo and Juliet. They are the main characters in this piece of literature. The main antagonist in the play is Tybalt, because he opposes Romeo. Other antagonists are Lord Capulet, the Prince, the people of Verona and of course, fate.

MODERN SHAKESPEARE- MOVIE ADAPTATION

The movie I think that was very well adapted is West Side Story. I myself as a child, watched this movie countless times with my mother; singing and dancing along. It is closely based on Romeo & Juliet. In the city of New York, there are two gangs: the Sharks and the Jets. Tony, who is Riff's best friend (the leader of the Jets) falls in love with Maria, who is the younger sister of Bernardo (the leader of the Sharks). They intend to run away together, when a fight between the two gangs erupts. Tony gets caught in the middle and is tragically killed, as is Maria's brother. Riff also dies.


I think West Side Story is a great adaptation of Romeo & Juliet because it really shows the brutality of it all as well as the instant connection between Maria and Tony. It perfectly tells the tragic tale of Romeo & Juliet. Not to mention, I love how West Side Story has been woven with many dances and songs, which really illustrates the liveliness that they feel and live. Maria and Tony are also much more mature than both Romeo and Juliet were, so the events seem more real and not as childish.

Dire Straits - Romeo and Juliet HD
West Side Story HD Trailer
There are so many different adaptations of Romeo & Juliet, whether it is a book, song or film. It just goes to show how undoubtedly timeless Shakespeare's work really is. That is why I believe that Shakespeare is still alive. Alive In History.
"For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo."

BY ANNIKA RHOADES