Catching up on Classics (and lots more!) discussion

Romeo and Juliet
This topic is about Romeo and Juliet
111 views
William Shakespeare Collection > Romeo and Juliet - SPOILERS

Comments Showing 1-50 of 65 (65 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

Pink | 6556 comments This is the discussion thread for Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, our Old School Classic Group Read for January 2018.

Spoilers allowed here.

Please feel free to discuss anything you wish, relating to the book and let us know what you thought :)


message 2: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 6 comments Done reading Act 1 and I must say i feel it's... simple... Perhaps because i've heard the story line over and over again (two star cross'd lovers take their life yada yada yada) but I chose to read this book this month because I've never read it before, and also to challenge myself with "Old english".

Truth be told, If not for the study guide I used from salcomp.ca, I wouldn't have been able to grasp the story line. But I think i'm getting a hang of it, I think I'll not to use a study guide for the next Act.


Talia Mazzarella (madcap_marginalia) | 4 comments Vanessa wrote: "Done reading Act 1 and I must say i feel it's... simple... Perhaps because i've heard the story line over and over again (two star cross'd lovers take their life yada yada yada) but I chose to read..."

Early Modern English definitely takes some getting used to, but if helps if you watch a performance while you read along. The Baz Lurman movie uses most of the original play’s language and is visually really fun.

I’ve been trying to read through all of Shakesoeare’s plays and once you get used to it you’ll realize his language reads quite smoothly. Might revisit Romeo and Juliet since I haven’t read it since high school, just to refresh my memory!


message 4: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 6 comments Mads wrote: "Vanessa wrote: "Done reading Act 1 and I must say i feel it's... simple... Perhaps because i've heard the story line over and over again (two star cross'd lovers take their life yada yada yada) but..."

Thanks for the recommendation, I'll definitely definitely add that to my watch list. Watching the movie would make it easier to visualise!

I'm also glad that you've chosen to revisit the story! Please post more on here regarding your thoughts on it!


Phil Jensen | 627 comments Vanessa wrote: "Done reading Act 1 and I must say i feel it's... simple..."

It felt that way to me, too. It's beautifully written, but lacks the complexity of my Shakespeare favorites. Here's my review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I recommend that you read an annotated edition. I used the Folger, which is my favorite. Here's a link to the online No Fear text, which has the original text side by side with a contemporary English version:

http://nfs.sparknotes.com/romeojuliet/


Melanti | 2384 comments I started re-reading this last night.

I always forget how incredibly young Juliet is! 13! And her mother is only 26? 27? And Romeo, is what, 18? 19? It doesn't really say, but old enough to be treated as an adult.

And I always forget that Romeo starts off the play passionately in love with someone else.

Speaking of, the way Romeo complains about Rosaline not being willing to flirt with him reminds me of a few of the sonnets to the fair youth, where he's urging him to have kids:

Ben: Then She hath sworn that she will still live chaste?
Romeo: She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste,
For beauty, starved with her severity,
Cuts beauty off from all prosperity

vs Sonnet #4.


Talia Mazzarella (madcap_marginalia) | 4 comments Melanti wrote: "Speaking of, the way Romeo complains about Rosaline not being willing to flirt with him reminds me of a few of the sonnets to the fair youth, where he's urging him to have kids:."

Great comparison! Themes from the Procreation Sonnets seem to pop up all over his plays now that I think about it. I rewatched Twelfth Night over holiday break and this is reminding me of a similar line of thought from Act 1, Scene 5 when Viola (in disguise) chastises Olivia for swearing off men while in morning:

Lady, you are the cruell'st she alive,
If you will lead these graces to the grave
And leave the world no copy.


I'm also struck by how young Juliet is when I re-read this. She makes some pretty big decisions for somebody who would today be in the Disney Channel demographic.


Melanti | 2384 comments Mads wrote: "Themes from the Procreation Sonnets seem to pop up all over his plays now that I think about it. ..."

Interesting! I only started pecking away at the Sonnets for the first time last summer, so I hadn't read them yet when I saw Twelfth Night, but yes, that's the same concept as the procreation sonnets.


message 9: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 6 comments Melanti wrote: "I started re-reading this last night.

I always forget how incredibly young Juliet is! 13! And her mother is only 26? 27? And Romeo, is what, 18? 19? It doesn't really say, but old enough to be tr..."


True! I was in utter shock when I found out that she was only 13 and I couldn't stop thinking of Paris as a pedophile. What's worse is when he tells Capulet [He dad] that women much younger than she were mothers already... Really?!

Then again, this whole discovery made me to understand why the doors of castles and chairs in England (when I visited) were so small. I used to think that the genes back then were responsible for "smaller humans" but I think it was just the age... I might be wrong.


message 10: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 6 comments Phil wrote: "Vanessa wrote: "Done reading Act 1 and I must say i feel it's... simple..."

It felt that way to me, too. It's beautifully written, but lacks the complexity of my Shakespeare favorites. Here's my r..."


Thanks, phil! I appreciate it!


Michele (micheleevansito) | 138 comments I am at the part where the plan goes sideways... poor Romeo really thinks Juliet is dead...


message 12: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments Vanessa wrote: " I used to think that the genes back then were responsible for "smaller humans" but I think it was just the age... I might be wrong. "

The increase in average height was most likely caused by improved nutrition.


Michele (micheleevansito) | 138 comments Just finished!


message 14: by Alia (new) - added it

Alia | 228 comments For a play that takes place over three days, it sure gets through an entire "love" story, including an entire marriage.

Juliet really was the more sensible one, despite being almost fourteen. She at least suggested to not get married within 12 hours of meeting each other. She at least made sure he was really dead before she killed herself.

I can sort of understand why she had a bad relationship with her mom, if her mom was 28. I think this play was taking a jab at what was considered marriageable age at the time, especially since the poem it dramatized had them as adults. Maybe Will just found it easier to imagine such a plot happening to kids.

Is waxing poetic outside your bedroom window that different from boomboxing Careless Whisper outside your bedroom window?


Melanti | 2384 comments Alia wrote: "For a play that takes place over three days, it sure gets through an entire "love" story, including an entire marriage ..."

Yes! Romeo goes from being infatuated with someone else to desperately in love with Juliet in a couple of seconds, is engaged to her in a handful of hours, and they are fully married to each other within just 24 hours.

Alia wrote: "She at least made sure he was really dead before she killed herself. ..."

Well, to be fair, Romeo was told she was dead, and here is is, finding her buried. When you go to someone's funeral, do you take their pulse? Usually, I just take it for granted at that point that whomever is really dead.

Alia wrote: "Careless Whisper outside your bedroom window? ..."

I'm sorry, I don't get the reference?



I actually blame Friar Lawrence for the unhappy ending. What an awful plan!

The only reason he agrees is because he thinks it might resolve the family conflict, but... if they had lived but ended up fighting within a year, how would that have helped?

Even if Romeo had managed to get the letter in time, can you imagine the psychological effect of walking into a tomb to find your wife? Even if he'd known she was merely in a coma rather than dead, he'd still have to watch her lying there in her tomb, cold and barely breathing.


message 16: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments Melanti wrote: "I actually blame Friar Lawrence for the unhappy ending. What an awful plan!"

My HS teacher said that the Friar Lawrence character is a play on anti-Catholic stereotypes of Shakespeare's day.


Melanti | 2384 comments Phil wrote: "Melanti wrote: "I actually blame Friar Lawrence for the unhappy ending. What an awful plan!"

My HS teacher said that the Friar Lawrence character is a play on anti-Catholic stereotypes of Shakespe..."


It's possible. I've heard that interpretation too.

Which might have made for some interesting family dynamics... We don't know a ton about Shakespeare, of course, but his parents are thought to be Catholics. Though, his father was convicted of usury and that didn't stop him from writing Merchant of Venice.


Brina It makes sense because of the way he portrays Jews in Merchant of Venice. Perhaps R&J is his platform to critique the place of Catholics in society.


message 19: by Alia (new) - added it

Alia | 228 comments Melanti wrote: "We don't know a ton about Shakespeare, of course, but his parents are thought to be Catholics. Though, his father was convicted of usury and that didn't stop him from writing Merchant of Venice. "

Shakespeare may have been quite a rebel.

Melanti wrote: "Alia wrote: "Careless Whisper outside your bedroom window? ..."

I'm sorry, I don't get the reference? "


In Deadpool they kept referencing the scene from Say Anything, which is about a girl who can't be with the boy she likes because her father doesn't approve. It's probably a stretch to compare it to R&J, but in my defense I don't have a lot of romance references.

The only other one is actually the Twilight books, with the second one actively comparing itself to R&J. An unofficial line may or may not be drawn at discussing Twilight in a thread about Shakespeare.


message 20: by Alia (new) - added it

Alia | 228 comments Melanti wrote: "I actually blame Friar Lawrence for the unhappy ending. What an awful plan!

The only reason he agrees is because he thinks it might resolve the family conflict, but... if they had lived but ended up fighting within a year, how would that have helped?

Even if Romeo had managed to get the letter in time, can you imagine the psychological effect of walking into a tomb to find your wife? Even if he'd known she was merely in a coma rather than dead, he'd still have to watch her lying there in her tomb, cold and barely breathing."


It was an awful plan given his stated goal, but I suspect him of wanting the probably-having-sex (from the friar's perspective) teenagers married so it would be legal, and any resulting child be legitimate. If you just want families to stop feuding you invite them to dinner parties together or something, you don't wed their children who met a few hours ago.

Juliet wasn't great with plans either. She could perhaps have gotten herself bannished – maybe even without offing one of Romeo's family memebers. If she had told her father, there's a pretty good chance he'd disown her. She could have argued the "what God has joined, let no man separate" angle to get to live with him. If she wasn't willing to lower her living standards for him, how real could it have been.

I know she is stated to be thirteen, but she doesn't really strike me as a thirteen-year-old. Maybe it's because the character she is based on is grown. I should probably read that poem.


Melanti | 2384 comments Alia wrote: "It was an awful plan given his stated goal, but I suspect him of wanting the probably-having-sex (from the friar's perspective) teenagers married so it would be legal, and any resulting child be legitimate...."

That could be possible. He did make a comment about not leaving them alone together until after they were safely wed.

Though, if that's the case, how poor of an opinion does he have of Romeo to think Romeo can't be trusted to get to know someone for more than a day before there's a risk of a illegitimate child?

Alia wrote: "If she had told her father, there's a pretty good chance he'd disown her. She could have argued the "what God has joined, let no man separate" angle to get to live with him..."

Yep. Lots of angles here. She could have simply refused to marry Paris without explanation, and joined Romeo in exile. She could have said she was already married but refused to say to whom. She could have confessed to Romeo's friends and family and begged them for assistance. She could have taken sanctuary in the church until Romeo came and got her.

Alia wrote: "I should probably read that poem. ..."

Same. I got through the first couple of pages, but just don't feel like reading it right now, though. Maybe another year.


message 22: by Alia (new) - added it

Alia | 228 comments Melanti wrote: "Though, if that's the case, how poor of an opinion does he have of Romeo to think Romeo can't be trusted to get to know someone for more than a day before there's a risk of a illegitimate child? "

Maybe he just knew him really well?


J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1508 comments Finished

I had expected Romeo to be more of a traditional a hero, but he is so flimsy.

Of Romeo and Juliet, it seems like she is the one taking the lead, actually trying to do something. Romeo dies from poison while Julie from a weapon. Isn't poison traditionally a “female/passive” suicide, while stabbing oneself is a “male”?

I had expected the story to be more of a clear cut tragedy. There are too many small funny things for that, like the long wordplay in II.4

The thing that puzzle me most about the plot was why Juliet did not run away with Romeo in the first place. Googling that shows I am not alone. The best explanation seems to be that she does not want to disgrace her family name running off with a murderer.


Melanti | 2384 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "Finished

I had expected Romeo to be more of a traditional a hero, but he is so flimsy.

Of Romeo and Juliet, it seems like she is the one taking the lead, actually trying to do something. Romeo d..."


You know, when I was remembering this, I had thought that Romeo had chosen to poison himself because that's how he thought Juliet died and he wanted to share in her death.

But, no! He doesn't even ask how or why Juliet died. He just jumps straight from her being dead to him poisoning himself. What if she'd been murdered? Would the killer just get away with it? He doesn't even stop to ask if she needs to be avenged!


message 25: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "I had expected the story to be more of a clear cut tragedy. There are too many small funny things for that, like the long wordplay in II.4 "

That's typical of Shakespeare. He was trying to appeal to a broad audience, so he often alternated between scenes of powerful oratory and scenes of bawdy humor or spectacle.

Incidentally, the medlar jokes are the most censored lines in all of Shakespeare.


J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1508 comments Phil wrote: "... That's typical of Shakespeare. He was trying to appeal to a broad audience, ..."

Is it? I read Macbeth some years ago, and remember that as dark from line 1. Maybe it is time for a re-read ;-)


message 27: by Alia (new) - added it

Alia | 228 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "Of Romeo and Juliet, it seems like she is the one taking the lead, actually trying to do something. Romeo dies from poison while Julie from a weapon. Isn't poison traditionally a “female/passive” suicide, while stabbing oneself is a “male”?"

Are we thinking Romeo was gay? Shakespeare wasn't necessarily against that. It's also a bit of a relief, because something about Claire Danes' performance made me think they consumated the marriage.

Or was he just effeminate? He definitely had romantic ideals like a stereotypical school girl. Real men can be one without the other, but in fiction it's often used as a shorthand – but that doesn't mean Shakespeare wouldn't subvert it. I honestly don't know how old the stereotype is.

He could have just been subverting expectations by making Juliet active and Romeo passive.


message 28: by Melanti (last edited Jan 12, 2018 03:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melanti | 2384 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "Is it? I read Macbeth some years ago, and remember that as dark from line 1. Maybe it is time for ..."

Well, next month is the perfect time for that.

There is a little comic relief in Macbeth. Very little, though. Nothing like all the innuendo that Mercutio indulges in.

But then, Macbeth is about murder and usurpation. Romeo & Juliet is about sex. So it being bawdy is to be expected.


Sabrina Michel J_BlueFlower wrote: "Phil wrote: "... That's typical of Shakespeare. He was trying to appeal to a broad audience, ..."

Is it? I read Macbeth some years ago, and remember that as dark from line 1. Maybe it is time for ..."

Gay ? Please give me a break ! Romeo and Juliet were two teenagers.


Melanti | 2384 comments Sabrina wrote: "Gay ? Please give me a break ! Romeo and Juliet were two teenagers. . ..."

Considering that he sleeps with Juliet (and eagerly, at that), I'd go with he's not.

Shakespeare wrote about a lot of strong women... J_Blueflower brought up Macbeth already, and in that one, it was the wife, not the husband, who was the mastermind of the regicide. So Juliet taking a more active role than Romeo isn't all that unusual.


Loretta | 2668 comments Up until I read Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet was my favorite play. It's still high on my list of Shakespearean plays! 😊


Sabrina Michel My favorite too (after Hamlet). In opposition to some people on this site, Romeo & Juliet is NOT about sex. It's a story about two teenagers in love, which ends in tragedy because of the useless and blind hatred of their two families.


message 33: by Rosemarie (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 1556 comments I don't know if anyone remembers Mercutio's curse as he lay dying:

"A plague on both your houses!"

Romeo and Juliet are victims of the hatred between the Montagus and the Capulets. I agree with you entirely, Sabrina.
On a stylistic note, this plays diverges from the definition of a classic tragedy because the two young characters were lacking in a "tragic flaw". They are young and victims of circumstance.


Petrichor | 300 comments Melanti wrote: "I actually blame Friar Lawrence for the unhappy ending. What an awful plan! "

That's interesting! I actually thought Friar Lawrence was one of the only reasonable people in the play.
He is the only one who listens to the two. Yes, the plan is very risky, but he only suggests it after Juliet talks about killing herself. It's the only idea he has to enable the two to live together.

Juliet's parents (especially her father) don't listen to her and/or don't care about it. At that point ANY plan is better than no solution at all.

On the other hand, some cool-down time would have been good. Romeo and Juliet fall in love (if you can call it that) after seconds and talk about marriage within hours. I've had lots of crushes, and when I do, they are intense. But I'd never commit myself for life to someone I barely know. Juliet wasn't given any time, though, as she was forced to marry Paris within few days.

For me, Juliet's Father, Capulet is the biggest villain of the story. Friar Lawrence tried to save what could be saved, i.e. Juliet's life.


Renee | 864 comments Petrichor wrote: "For me, Juliet's Father, Capulet is the biggest villain of the story. Friar Lawrence tried to save what could be saved, i.e. Juliet's life.
"


Didn't Capulet in the beginning say that she would get to choose who she married? I think I remember something about that. Then he barges into her room, and tells her she's marrying Paris whether she wants to or not. And if she doesn't agree she can just get out of his house! I felt so bad for Juliet because she didn't want to marry Paris, and couldn't say anything to him about Romeo because their families hate each other.

Friar Lawrence did have a part in the tragedy that happened, but I don't think I would entirely blame him for it. Both Romeo and Juliet would kill themselves if they couldn't be together and I think he was just trying to help them the best he could so they could be together. He was the only one who really listened to them. Maybe he thought them joining together would help bring their houses back together again, but I don't think that was his main motivation. If it happened, he would have been happy about it, but I think he just wanted to help them. Granted, it wasn't the best plan, but if Romeo got the message it may have worked out.

I read this back in high school and I remember loving it back then. This was the first time I re-read it since. I'm enjoying all the Shakespeare reads the group has been doing, and am looking forward to Macbeth next month.


Melanti | 2384 comments Petrichor wrote: "At that point ANY plan is better than no solution at all...."
There's several other plans they could have taken.
Juliet being disowned and going to join Romeo.
Admitting a prior marriage, even if she refused to say to whom.
Claiming sanctuary in the church to avoid the marriage.
Etc.

Sure the faked death is dramatic and it makes for a great play... And drama may be what Laurence was going for. Maybe he thought that the shock of Capulets finding their daughter dead and then the relief of finding out she was alive after all would serve to help them get over her eloping with Romeo.

But if that's the case, that's in order to serve the Friar's agenda - it's not what's best for Romeo and Juliet. Just like the marriage was to serve the Friar's agenda. It probably wasn't what was best for the kids.

Even if you accept the marriage and the faked death, Friar Laurence abandoned Juliet alone with Romeo's dead body. That's pretty inexcusable, IMO.

Juliet's father is the main culprit and the driving force of the action, but Friar Laurence plays a fairly large role too.

Petrichor wrote: " Juliet wasn't given any time, though, as she was forced to marry Paris within few days...."

But that all came about after Romeo's exile. It had nothing to do with her hasty wedding. As far as we're told, the original plan was a wedding in 2 years.


message 37: by Alia (last edited Jan 16, 2018 02:50AM) (new) - added it

Alia | 228 comments Renee wrote: "Didn't Capulet in the beginning say that she would get to choose who she married? I think I remember something about that. Then he barges into her room, and tells her she's marrying Paris whether she wants to or not. And if she doesn't agree she can just get out of his house!"

Melanti wrote: "But that all came about after Romeo's exile. It had nothing to do with her hasty wedding.."

He saw Romeo at the party, and was all, "oh, let the boy have some fun" which gave me the impression that he thought the feud had nothing to do with the children. I suppose he could have picked up on the sparks between Romeo and his daughter. His feeling about this might have changed after Romeo killed one of his relatives.


Sarah | 587 comments In high school we read this, then were forced to watch two movie versions and a play.

I didn't like the play when we had to read it and I liked it even less after being forced to sit through it three times.

To me, there is nothing romantic about this story. Its the story of a couple of idiot teenagers who thanks to some ridiculous instalove and runaway hormones get themselves killed and hurt others in the process.
Juliet is 13. Romeo is 18, I think? That right there was a turn off for me as well.

I will never understand the love so many people have for this play.


Loretta | 2668 comments Sarah wrote: "In high school we read this, then were forced to watch two movie versions and a play.

I didn't like the play when we had to read it and I liked it even less after being forced to sit through it t..."


Wow, Sarah!!! Guess you really didn't like this one! Sorry!


Melanti | 2384 comments Sarah wrote: "In high school we read this, then were forced to watch two movie versions and a play.

I didn't like the play when we had to read it and I liked it even less after being forced to sit through it t..."


I've never seen it as a true romance either. Instalove is ridiculous, yes.

But the whole play has a really rushed feel to it. Not just the instalove.

Capulet originally says Juliet won't be ready for marriage for 2 years, and he later modifies that to just a few days.

They're constantly making appointments for a few hours away or a day at most. Which is kind of strange. I remember my English teacher making this big deal over that, saying that it was a symptom of them not being able to call each other up and make dates in the modern fashion. But if that were the reason, you'd see a lot more of these very specific appointments and references to time in Shakespeare's other plays, and while that does happen occasionally, it's not the constant thing it is in this one.

To me, that indicates that Shakespeare might have wanted us to feel time was rushing by fast.


message 41: by Rosemarie (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 1556 comments That makes a lot of sense, Melanti. You do get a sense that things are rushed, so rushed that they don't have time to think straight.


J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1508 comments Melanti wrote: "...to feel time was rushing by fast."

I had vague feeling about this, when reading the play, but you formulated it much more clearly.

Also that Lawrence's letter doesn't reach Romeo, and he only finds out too late. It must have been rushed that he sends of the messenger without telling him how important it is.


message 43: by Alia (new) - added it

Alia | 228 comments Melanti wrote: "Capulet originally says Juliet won't be ready for marriage for 2 years, and he later modifies that to just a few days."

Not a plot hole. He saw them at the party.

I suppose you can give Romeo grief for being older than thirteen, even though if he had been thirteen I for one would have taken a different message from it. Paris was an adult as well, but nobody gives him any grief.


Melanti | 2384 comments Alia wrote: "I suppose you can give Romeo grief for being older than thirteen, even though if he had been thirteen I for one would have taken a different message from it. Paris was an adult as well, but nobody gives him any grief. ..."

13 to 18 isn't a huge age gap considering when it takes place. Sure, it'd be better if Juliet was a couple years older, because 13 is just so young! But I don't have a big problem with the age gap.

I don't think anyone ever talks about the age difference between Juliet & Paris because the fact Juliet isn't consenting is a far more serious issue.


message 45: by Alia (new) - added it

Alia | 228 comments During the party scene, Capulet and another Capulet can't agree whether Romeo is twenty-five or thirty.


Melanti | 2384 comments No, that's someone else they're talking about, not Romeo's dad...


Actually, I just Googled Lucentio to make sure and realized they're talking about the guy from Taming of the Shrew! Petruchio is also at the party. I thought their names sounded familiar!


message 47: by Alia (new) - added it

Alia | 228 comments Melanti wrote: "No, that's someone else they're talking about, not Romeo's dad...

Actually, I just Googled Lucentio to make sure and realized they're talking about the guy from Taming of the Shrew! Petruchio is also at the party. I thought their names sounded familiar!"


Cool!

So maybe all Shakespeare plays take place in the same universe? Until now I thought Marvel or Disney were the first to do that.


message 48: by Melanti (last edited Jan 17, 2018 02:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melanti | 2384 comments Alia wrote: "So maybe all Shakespeare plays take place in the same universe? Until now I thought Marvel or Disney were the first to do that. .."

Some of them are, at least! I know Falstaff from the History plays shows up in one of the comedies.

Now I'm wondering if there's any crossovers with Two Gentlemen of Vernoa.


Vicki Cline I'm really glad we read this. Some parts were so familiar, and others not at all. I agree with others who thought it was a bit rushed. I only noticed it during the last act and thought maybe it was because I read it too fast. I'd like to see a production - I'm sure there are lots on DVD.


message 50: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin **Coffee and Book Addict** (coffeebookaddict) | 2 comments Done with this one! :) I always love to read this one. I always said if William Shakespeare was alive today, I would totally try and marry him!


« previous 1
back to top