Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

I need to offer my sincerest and humblest apologies for posting late twice in a row.  Last week I had very legitimate reasons.  This week, I simply forgot.  Now! Onto everything else.

I loved, loved, loved Grapes of Wrath by the end.  Saturday night Amelia was having a sleepover at a friend’s.  Leaving Greg and I by ourselves for the evening.  We went out for Thai food (where Greg decided again that he should have gotten what I got-he did the same thing at Pepperjax too).  Then we came home and I sat down and picked up Grapes of Wrath.  And that was all there was for 2 hours.  Greg fell asleep even! So, yeah.  Poor Greg, getting forgotten for Grapes of Wrath.  Don’t worry, we watched something on tv afterwards and spent time talking.  So.  It’s all good.

This week I am talking about Romeo and Juliet.  If you haven’t ever heard of Romeo and Juliet before, please make sure to blast the rock you’re living under and go research it.  Emma Donoghue and Lorrie Moore listed R&J in their top tens.

Ok.  So, while I admit that there is definitely a fair amount of wit in portions of Romeo and Juliet:

From Act 1, Scene 2:

CAPULET
My child is yet a stranger in the world.
She hath not seen the change of fourteen years.
Let two more summers wither in their pride
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.

PARIS
Younger than she are happy mothers made.

CAPULET
And too soon marred are those so early made.
Act 1 Scene 3:

LADY CAPULET
Marry, that ‘marry’ is the very theme
I came to talk of.—Tell me, daughter Juliet,
How stands your disposition to be married?

JULIET
It is an honor that I dream not of.

And something from Act 1, Scene 1 that might be familiar to some even if you have not read the play:

ABRAHAM
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON
I do bite my thumb, sir.

ABRAHAM
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON, aside to Gregory
Is the law of our side, if I
say “Ay”?

GREGORY, aside to Sampson
No.

SAMPSON
No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir,
but I bite my thumb, sir.

And while Romeo & Juliet has some of the best writing of physical attraction since Song of Solomon in the Bible:

From Act 1, Scene 2:

ROMEO
When the devout religion of mine eye
Maintains such falsehood, then turn tears to fire;
And these who, often drowned, could never die,
Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars.
One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun
Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun

From Act 1, Scene 5:

ROMEO
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 and Juliet also employed dramatic irony in such brilliance that it’s rarely surpassed, even 500 years or so later.  (For information on that if you have not read the play, just look up the plot on any website talking about it.  I figure y’all are smart enough to work it out on your own 😉 )

Even with all of these things.

I didn’t really like Romeo and Juliet much in high school when I read it, in college when I re read it and this week when I re-read it again.

I think it might be partly because of how we now see the tale.  I think that Shakespeare wanted to show the irony of how these two families feuded so much (Capulets & Montagues), refused to allow their children to be together even in the face of love, and then after a tragedy united together and resolved their feud.  But, now it’s reduced to the romance between Romeo and Juliet.  And, really, the romance is farcical.  It’s two very young teenagers, who fall in “love at first sight” and base a lifetime of decisions based upon that first sight.  Romeo is lamenting and mourning over a beautiful woman 2 minutes before he sees Juliet.  Then suddenly upon seeing Juliet is in raptures and has forgotten the other woman.  That suggests Romeo thinks with neither his heart or his head.  And Juliet?  Well she’s also captured in love by the pretty words that fall from Romeo’s lips and thinks he’s everything.  Just silly.  And I thought this at 14 too, the same age as the two of them.  So it’s not just as a grown up looking at teenagers that I’m saying this.

Now:

I will say that I absolutely loved:

This

Because of:

This

(if you only watch one of these links, watch the 2nd one.  Otherwise my paragraph below won’t make as much sense.)

Probably because all of the original language was used instead of changing it up.  They changed the world around the words but kept the words the same, showing the universality and endurance of Shakespeare.

So, if you haven’t read the play but think you might, I’d recommend the 1996 Romeo and Juliet movie.  Get over any Leonardo Dicaprio dislike you might have.  Remind yourself that he was never once Justin Bieber.  It should help.  There is also no Celine Dion.  I promise. This is the only time I’d recommend a movie over a book fyi, and that’s merely because they use all of the original language from the actual play, and since it is a play you’d typically be viewing it anyway 🙂 It’s written to be viewed.

Enjoy.

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