Jessica-Robyn's Reviews > Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
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's review
Jun 22, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: assigned-reading, plays, death-n-dying, historical-fiction
Read from October 02 to 14, 2012

Rating: 3.5 Stars

I rarely use the term "silly bitch" but I shall use it now and apply it to pretty much everyone in this play. The things Romeo and Juliet do with the support of the misguided adults around them is both incredibly fascinating and ridiculous.

Don't get me wrong, I think Romeo and Juliet is a truly great play. It's entertaining and has the perfect balance for a stage performance. I unfortunately had to read this for school, which means I also had to analyse it and the crap that my course layered on top of it was baffling at times. However, I really like the letter A. This means I had to keep the majority of my ranting opinions out of my assignments. So I've decided to put all that analyse to good work and put everything I held back into this review.

I think Shakespeare got his characters pretty dead on. Although I never ever agreed with the actions of Romeo and Juliet I could identify that there are indeed teenagers who think death is the ultimate solution to every problem, who think they've "fallen in love" at first sight, who commit their hearts foolishly, will do anything to have some sexy time, and don't understand the concept of "foresight". I also think there are plenty of adults who would aid in their delusions because of delusions of their own. Raging hormones and misguidedness are not inventions of a modern era.

Needless to say, I didn't read this play as any sort of romance like some of my classmates did, I read it as a tragedy. Destiny is a big theme throughout the play and it's incredibly sad that a violence between families then birthed love which only ended in death. (I will get to the death bit in a second). Love does not concur all. This isn't a fairy tale, it isn't romantic, it is sad and maddening because it was not just death, but pointless death. I also don't doubt for a moment that Shakespeare knew how foolishly his characters were acting and over time I think we've almost altered his intent with our romanticism of love+death= jadhfadhfnak.

Now onto the pointlessness of the death to which was very pointless indeed. Poor Paris. Poor unfortunate Paris! The one guy who was just happy to be getting with the girl he liked and had no idea what he was stepping into. Then BAM! dead. And of course there was Romeo and Juliet. Whatever, I feel bad for Paris.

When I neared the end of the play I started thinking, what would have my reaction been to the ending had I not known so much about the play going into it? I'm really rather curious what experiencing that would have been like. Part of the interest of this play is all the obvious foreshadowing throughout each act, but if I was part of an unknowing audience I would have seen the foreshadowing and yet still hoped for a happy ending. I think it would have been more powerful a conclusion had it not been unavoidably spoiled for me through its cultural significance.

On a completely different note, I don't think I've mentioned it, but this is my first Shakespeare play. I was happy to see that I picked up the pacing and new words pretty well and knew what was going on without having to consult the definitions guide every couple lines. I'm going to be challenging myself to read all of his plays because in a city with a huge three month long yearly Shakespeare festival (Bard on the Beach, 24 years running) those bragging rights could very well come in handy.

After this I am seriously looking forward to reading more Shakespeare and seeing what else he has to offer. Does anyone have any favourites I should pick up next? I have a long list and lots of free time after completing this English course.
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Reading Progress

10/02/2012 page 101
35.0% "Currently reading this for class. Although this isn't the same edition I can't be bothered to find the one I'm reading. Any comments I make will include the Act and Scene for reference."
10/14/2012 page 213
75.0% "Act 4: You know what Romeo and Juliet are awfully eager to off themselves. They've both mentioned suicide numerous times already. It's like they're both jumping for the opportunity! Oh there's a problem you say? I should kill myself, 'cause that'll fix it!"

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Maree The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare play, if you haven't read it yet.

Jessica-Robyn Maree ♫ Light's Shadow ♪ wrote: "The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare play, if you haven't read it yet."

I've heard a lot of good things about The Tempest. I'll definitely bump it up on my list. :)

message 3: by Auden (new) - added it

Auden Granger Hamlet Hamlet Hamlet Hamlet Hamlet!

Julie Sveen I agree completely with you! It's not romantic, it's tragic! And foolish! And oh, Shakespeare knew. Just look at Mercutio's dying monologue. Romeo and Juliet are kids, they think they're in love, and they do some stupid sh*t. I think it's Shakespeare's judgement of romance shining through, in all honesty. Also - shakespeare's plays are written with no descriptions whatsoever, which means you can twist the tone of his plays a whole lot. Is it necessarily so that Romeo and Juliet are the 'heroes' of the story, or are we just assuming?

message 5: by Jessica-Robyn (last edited Jun 26, 2013 03:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jessica-Robyn Julie wrote: "I agree completely with you! It's not romantic, it's tragic! And foolish! And oh, Shakespeare knew. Just look at Mercutio's dying monologue. Romeo and Juliet are kids, they think they're in love, a..."

I completely agree with you! I think that monologue by Mercutio is at the centre of the whole play. Truly, I don't think Shakespeare had a romantic bone in his entire body. Of the two other plays I've read it's pretty clear he does not like marriage. The circumstances surround it seems to always be either death, greed, or deceit thus far.

I think Shakespeare had a lot of faith in his audience that even without explaining it they would come to the same conclusion. Unfortunately, because everything he wrote is now a "classic" modern interpretations are always trying to romanticize it. And even then those that see how foolish and tragic the play is end up disliking it rather than appreciating it for what it is because they were told that this is romance.

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