Discussions

ShakeTube: My Take on Romeo and Juliet

Hello everyone !!

How’s the weekend going ?

Some days back, I tweeted about how I don’t agree with people calling Romeo and Juliet the best “love story” ever. I then thought it would be better to write a blog post about it, since 140 characters aren’t enough at times.

Before I get into my opinions on Romeo and Juliet, let me make it clear that this is only about Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet” and not about any of the other versions of the story (including the one by Arthur Brooke, that was the source for Shakespeare’s play). For years I heard people talking about how Romeo and Juliet is the best “love story” and how the two young protagonists died for love.

When I finally read the play, my 12 year old self couldn’t see any “love” in the so-called “love story”. This month, as a part of the ShakeTube read-along, I decided to re-read Romeo and Juliet, to check whether my opinion about the play would vary this time around. The only change that happened was apart from regarding it “just a tragic story of 2 rebellious teenagers”, I could also see it as a dark comedy.

Here’s why I don’t consider this a “love story”, something that anyone who has read the play or even watched the play being performed, should’ve realised, but of course the ones who started calling it a love-story would’ve also read/watched the play, right ?! (I don’t know, I’m not so sure). Anyway, here goes –

  1. At the beginning of the play, Romeo is in “love” with Rosaline, or so he claims. To him, “the all-seeing sun ne’er saw her match since first the world begun” and that was just a “crush”. He even writes a poem for her. This guy is highly dramatic and also falls in “love” rather too easily.
  2. Then he goes to a party, with hopes of seeing Rosaline (someone really needed to tell this guy that it’s creepy). There he sees Juliet and all of a sudden he doesn’t even remember who Rosaline is or that he ever liked her. Again another “crush”, NOT LOVE.
  3. Romeo and Juliet get married, after meeting TWICE. Not to forget that this guy kissed Juliet when they first met. Really Juliet, why are you even attracted to this guy ? (Here’s the answer – “when you’re 15 and somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them”, except that she’s 13. So, she’s a 13 year old Taylor Swift. Great !).
  4. Also, they are rebellious teenagers. Any parent who tells their rebellious teen to not meet someone or to stay away from a person, should probably know that they’ll do the exact opposite of that.
  5. Romeo next kills Tybalt and flees from the country. He didn’t even bother to take Juliet with him and Juliet has no problems with that either. Ya sure, it might’ve lead to more misunderstandings, but at least offer her a chance to come with you ? Also, you two clearly had no second thoughts about getting married secretly, so eloping to another country shouldn’t be a problem.
  6. Also, Romeo’s death is more a result of his nature (he’s dramatic and whiny and even a bit suicidal in general) than his love (which is non-existent) for Juliet.

Where was the love in any of that ? You know what’s a good love story ? This one (the gif right below) –

Now coming to the dark comedy in it.

  1. We have the friar and the nurse, who’re adults that have the thinking capacity of teenagers. What’s wrong with them ? First there’s the nurse, who thinks it’s a good idea to help a 13 year old get married to a guy whom she met TWICE. The Friar who realises that Romeo is just an over dramatic lad who keeps falling in love with the most beautiful girl in the room (If there was someone more beautiful than Juliet, he would’ve asked that girl to marry him too) and yet helps him get married to his latest crush.
  2. The events that lead up to their death are themselves a comedy of errors. Again, what sort of a plan was that ? Even with reliable mediums of communication, like text msgs, calls and emails, we in the 21st century are doubtful about msgs reaching on time and here’s the Friar, an adult, with a plan, the success of which depends solely on the message being delivered safely and on time. (It was pretty obvious and certain that the news of Juliet’s death would reach Romeo)

In fact, if you read the play carefully, every part of it except for the end, is pretty comical. Every dark scene is fore shadowed and is so melodramatic, that it’s hard not to sense the humour in them (okay, not as much as this gif suggests, but it’s there).

FUN FACT : Arthur Brooke whose poem “The Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet”, which served as the source of Shakespear’s play, gave the following justification for his poem – “to describe unto thee a couple of unfortunate lovers, thrilling themselves to unhonest desire, neglecting the authoritie and advise of parents and frendes, conferring their principall counsels with dronken gossypes, and superstitious friers, attempting all adventures of peryll, for thattaynyng of their wished lust… abusing the honorable name of lawefull marriage, to cloke the shame of stolne contractes, finallye, by all means of unhonest lyfe, hastyng to most unhappye deathe”. (If you think there are spelling mistakes, no there aren’t, it’s a direct quote. The spellings back then were different. This quote was taken from the introduction to this play in the everyman’s library edition of Shakespeare’s works that I own. Oh and they’ve categorised Romeo and Juliet under comedies.)

I’ll end it here. I can go on about it, but you would be terribly bored of it. Also, my Wi-Fi isn’t working. I just typed this out on MS word (not kidding) and copy-pasted it to WordPress and am posting this using the data pack on my phone (which doesn’t have much data left).

Anyway, what do you think of Romeo and Juliet ? Let me know in the comments. I would love to read your take on it.

Have a great weekend everyone !!

-Vrinda.

14 thoughts on “ShakeTube: My Take on Romeo and Juliet

  1. I’ve kind of skimmed over your post, but that’s simply because I recently finally bought the actual play and I want to read it with a fresh mind when I get to it, haha. I’ll be sure to share my thoughts about it though!
    From what I read of your post, I’m definitely intrigued. I saw the movie a couple of times when I was younger [at least, one of the lot out there?] and it never felt like a real love story to me. So on that account, I’m already certain I won’t see it as a love story either.

    Curious to find out what I’ll end up thinking! And I might pick it up sooner rather than later since it isn’t a huge monster of a book and that’ll be one more ticked off of my huge TBR-pile. :’)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you’re right that Romeo is a bit of a drama queen, but I think we are supposed to find that humorous. I don’t know if his thinking he is in love with Rosaline NECESSARILY detracts from his actual love for Juliet. Keep in mind, this is a play, it is intended to be watched not read. A good actor shows that Romeo only THINKS he loves Rosaline, then when he finally sees Juliet he shows through Romeo’s actions and speech styles that this time it’s different. Also, I think you have to keep in mind the time period it was written. Teens weren’t rebellious back then the way they are now, and it was not uncommon for teens to fall in love and get married. When you die at 35, 15 doesn’t seem so young.

    Obviously I disagree. I find R&J to be a beautiful love story, as well as a cautionary tale about letting your lovey dovey feelings replace common sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can agree with you on the rebellious teen part and the marriagable age. However, as someone who doesn’t believe in LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT (I believe you can be attracted to someone at first sight but love takes time), falling in “love” at first sight and getting married at the next isn’t something I associate with love. I’ve watched a few different versions of the play and haven’t found my opinions changing. And yes, Romeo’s dramatic persona definitely adds to the humour.
      I agree, that Romeo only THINKS he loves Rosaline, but according to me, he also only THINKS he loves Juliet.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Also, here’s the thing, I agree that most teenagers of that era weren’t rebellious. However, these two clearly were. Getting married in secret is not, in anyway, an act of obedience. They may not be as rebellious as teens these days, that doesn’t mean they’ll not try to get something that’s forbidden to them (hell, that’s supposedly how our entire world started, but that’s a different story).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with pretty much everything in your post! I have always felt like Romeo should have known better, being the older one in the “couple” and Juliet’s nurse or her parents (really ANYONE in her household/family) should have had a better grasp on her. Shouldn’t a thirteen year old have structure? Shouldn’t she have had some kind of musical lessons to attend or some sort of studying to do? For a wealthier family, hers sure didn’t spend enough on security and childcare either. I have so many questions and comments I imagine should just stay right in my head where they belong! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well based on 13th century Verona, Juliet could’ve been married off at the age of 12, also she was going to be married off to a person much older than her. But that fact apart, I still can’t really see their love, where’s that ?

      Like

  4. I first read Romeo and Juliet in high school. I never thought it was a true love story though. It was overly dramatic and the both die because of their dramatic natures. I enjoyed reading your post! ☺

    Liked by 1 person

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