Romeo and Juliet
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Romeo and Juliet

by

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates a world of violence and generational conflict in which two young people fall in love and die because of that love. The story is rather extraordinary in that the normal problems faced by young lovers are here so very large. It is not simply that the families of Romeo and Juliet disapprove of the lover's affection for each other; rather, the Montagues and the Capulets are on opposite sides in a blood feud and are trying to kill each other on the streets of Verona. Every time a member of one of the two families dies in the fight, his relatives demand the blood of his killer. Because of the feud, if Romeo is discovered with Juliet by her family, he will be killed. Once Romeo is banished, the only way that Juliet can avoid being married to someone else is to take a potion that apparently kills her, so that she is burried with the bodies of her slain relatives. In this violent, death-filled world, the movement of the story from love at first sight to the union of the lovers in death seems almost inevitable.

What is so striking about this play is that despite its extraordinary setting (one perhaps reflecting Elizabethan attitudes about hot-blooded Italians), it has become the quintessential story of young love. Because most young lovers feel that they have to overcome giant obstacles in order to be together, because they feel that they would rather die than be kept apart, and especially because the language Shakespeare gives his young lovers is so exquisite, allowing them to say to each other just what we would all say to a lover if we only knew how, it is easy to respond to this play as if it were about all young lovers rather than about a particular couple in a very unusual world. (When the play was rewritten in the eighteen century as The History and Fall of Caius Marius, the violent setting became that of a particularly discordant period in classical Rome; when Leonard Berstein rewrote the play as West Side Story, he chose the violent world of New York street gangs.)

Title:Romeo and Juliet
Edition Language:English
ISBN:0743477111
Format Type:Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages:283 pages

    Romeo and Juliet Reviews

  • Madeline
    May 18, 2008

    Romeo and Juliet, abridged.ROMEO: I’m Romeo, and I used to be emo and annoying but now I’m so totally in luuuuurve and it’s AWESOME. MERCUTIO: Okay, three things: One, there’s only room in thi...

  • Haleema
    Sep 26, 2010

    ...

  • Nate
    Aug 27, 2008

    I'm not sure what annoys me more - the play that elevated a story about two teenagers meeting at a ball and instantly "falling in love" then deciding to get married after knowing each other for one ni...

  • Anne
    Nov 15, 2008

    THIS! This is what happens when you jump into a Rebound Relationship.So, when the story opens, Romeo is desperately in love with Rosaline. But since she won't give up the booty has sworn to remain cha...

  • Catriona
    May 18, 2011

    The people who dislike this play are the ones who view common sense over being rational, and prefer to view the world in a structured way. One of the main arguments that come across is the 'meeting, f...

  • Bill  Kerwin
    May 12, 2007

    Two things struck me during this re-reading: 1) From the first scene of the play, the sexual puns are drenched in metaphorical violence (drawing your weapon, laying knife aboard, forcing women to the ...

  • Bookdragon Sean
    Jul 07, 2016

    Why didn’t they just run away together? It would have saved a lot of heart ache. ...

  • Kiki
    May 21, 2011

    While Romeo and Juliet is impressive in some aspects, particularly the prose (though there is better prose out there, by better authors) it has been too badly beaten and neutered over the course of it...

  • Manny
    Feb 19, 2009

    Every emo fourteen year old's dream. In bullet-point form:• fall in love with hot boy/girl (delete as appropriate) that parents can't stand; • tender words and some sex - gotta find out what that'...

  • Carol
    Jan 27, 2013

    Excellent! I can't believe I've waited so long to read this classic play! Having only surmised the story of ROMEO AND JULIET and not even seen the movie (yet) I now know Romeo was a Montague and Julie...

About William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr