Title: Romeo and Juliet
Author: William Shakespeare
Publication date: 1597
Genres/themes: Classic, Play, Romance, Drama
Source: The No Fear Sparknotes edition online
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I will not go very in depth in this review because so much has already been said. I am not an expert of 16th century literature and have nothing to compare it to so these are just so random thoughts.
This was not the first time that I read Romeo and Juliet; when I was in high school we got a visit from a group of actors who perform Shakespeare plays. We got a week long workshop and at the end of the week we did a small performance of the play (luckily only our teachers and the Shakespeare crew were in the audience!). We went rather in depth during that week but to be fairly honest I did not remember a single detail when I began reading the book this time around. I first tried to read the original text but I got so bogged down that I read the Sparknotes’ No Fear text instead. It is basically the original text with a modern English version alongside it. I did not need the modern version all the time but I was very convenient to consult it from time to time, to make sure that I understood the play correctly!
If you want to critique this play there are so many things you can find that are worthy of critique. Yes, Romeo is totally weird for loving Rosaline so much he almost drowns in self-pity first, and then all of sudden becoming infatuated with Juliet. Yes, Romeo is arrogant. Yes, Juliet is just a spoiled girl. Yes, Juliet is 14. All those things are true. People often forget, however, that you have to read Shakespeare in the context it was written in. It was perfectly fine to marry at a much younger age in the 16th century. Love was an entirely different concept, and Romeo has a right, as a male, to feel superior to girls. These things all make sense when put into perspective. If you strip down Romeo and Juliet, its core just shows to what lengths people in love are willing to go. For me, that is exactly the message I got from these. Sometimes two people just feel that they are meant for each other and nobody can keep them away. I loved that the Friar recognized that the love between Romeo and Juliet was real and that he helped them to get married rather than let them commit sins. The Friar, and his female counterpart The Nurse really made Romeo and Juliet happen. Without them, the ending would not have been as tragic, but they probably would have wither slowly, unable to ever be together. Although harsh, at least they are together in death.
The first act I listened to in audiobook form. I really liked the idea that I was listening to an actual play because each character had his/her distinct voice. As I said, it was hard to follow, because they recited the original version but now that I have read the play and feel more familiar with it, I really want to see the play sometimes. I know that there are many troupes that regularly perform Romeo and Juliet, so if they ever play here I am certainly going to try and see it!
Because it is a classic love story, I give Romeo and Juliet 4 stars.