SHAKESPEARE'S STILL KICKING
Shakespeare is alive and well in the 21st century #oldguy
Romeo and Juliet is the tragic tale of two star cross lovers destined to be together yet their relationship can never be accepted by their respective families. Romeo is a 17 year old noble born who falls in love with a 13 year old girl from the family of his enemy. They think they can alter the universe to be together which ultimately leads to their demise. Their foolish love for one another ends up killing 6 characters including themselves but their dramatic suicides finally end the long feud between the Montagues and the Capulets. Romeo and Juliet make the irrational decision to get married but then there's a fight and Romeo kills Juliets cousin in the heat of the battle which leads to his banishment but then he comes back to Juliet and finds her "dead" (she's actually just asleep). So he kills himself and the she wakes up and she kills herself. Quite a crazy story but everyone loves it because it actually has a lot of timeless themes and similarities to the real world.
Relevance of themes
Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet is still so often used because it is so famous and even though it may be set in a far away land a few hundred years ago, the relevance of its themes are still so obvious today. Teenagers of the 21st century can still relate to the struggles of young love and wanting to go against the expectations of their families and friends. The play has many life lessons using the themes of love and hate such as the fight with Tybalt where Romeo lets his hatred over take him and ends up killing Tybalt. Most of the themes that are still relevant today are associated with teens which makes sense because both Romeo and Juliet are teenagers. A main theme or rather stereotype in Romeo and Juliet is that teenagers behave irrationally. Romeo says he will always be in love with Rosaline, the next day he's in love with Juliet and the day after that they are married. Romeo and Juliet both have to make difficult choices with limited information. "Teens have to balance the expectations of the world around them with the intensity of their feelings" -John Green. I think many of us can relate to having very strong and unstable emotions as a teenager and trying to deal with the expectations of everyone around us at the same time. We have to balance love and actions with responsibility. Romeo and Juliet is the tragedy of love about youth as youth see it. We often just want to live fully, fearlessly and foolishly. Our mixed emotions make us feel like we are being pulled in a bunch of different directions all at the same time. We can see these feelings all throughout Romeo and Juliet as they "try to please the self, the state, the church and their families." They are often seen as melodramatic and idealistic teenagers. They believe they can change the universe, wanting the night to be longer and just wanting to be together when their families feud cannot allow it. They have to make the impossible choice of hurting the people they love or hurting themselves. I think many modern teenagers can relate to wanting to date a person they like without their parents approval. "Love in an unjust world has been around for eternity." The themes in Romeo and Juliet are still so relevant today to teenagers in many different ways but mainly in the hardships of loving someone you can never really be with without displeasing someone else.
The characters in Romeo and Juliet all have very different personality traits and they are all very distinct in what those traits are. We can normally relate at least a few of the characters to people we know or even ourselves. The different characters all have a function within the play due to their contrasting behaviours. There are many foils within Romeo and Juliet such as Tybalt who is basically the embodiment of hate whereas Benvolio is a peacemaker. Romeos dreamer like nature serves the function of adding an idealistic romantic love story and making the impossible seem possible even though he is facing off against the expectations of everyone around him. Lady Capulet has to fit the role of being formal and refined which leads to her be detached and uninvolved with Juliet. This is where the nurse fits in because of her motherly nature and her personality traits of being warm and loving as well as having a crude humour, she basically raises Juliet and is definitely more of a mother. So you see all the characters have roles within the play even though they are all so different from one another and I think this is also why we can relate to them because there's such a diverse range of personalities.
The language Shakespeare uses in Romeo and Juliet is equally powerful and beautiful. His different techniques have confused, excited and charmed audiences for hundreds of years. His strange language may seem like gibberish but it has a great beauty, not unlike opera in the musical world. Children all over the world study Shakespeare in great detail because there is so much to be learned from this master of words in the way he uses his diverse range of complex writing structures. Most of us can not begin to comprehend how amazing his methods of putting into account the syllables and vowels etc. of words and putting them together to create literal poetry. His use of metaphors, similes, personification and alliterations is just tremendous. "Hell is empty all the devils are here." "All the world's a stage, and we are merely players."
Adaptability of plot
Shakespeare's plays have been transformed and adapted into many different types of media including; songs, movies, plays, TV shows, books etc. Some of these include; Gnomeo and Juliet, Twilight, Love story and she's the man. The plot has been modernised to suit the new age audience and excite the youth that are more sceptical to the traditional language and plot.
To sum it all up I think I have proven the point that Shakespeare is still alive and well. He is still enjoyed all over the world and I'm sure that his plays will continue to be studied in English classrooms for many years to come.