Thursday, February 23, 2012

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
126 pages
Source: my copy was purchased from Scholastic through the schools

You all know the story - in ye olde Verona live two warring families, the Capulets and the Montagues, are trying the patience of their prince. They've been warned but boys will be boys and every time the young men from each family meet in the streets, there is bound to be trouble. Still, when young Romeo crashes a party one night, it matters not in the least to him that Juliet is a Capulet. In one of the greatest love scenes ever written, the two declare their love on Juliet's balcony later that night:

"Romeo: Lady, by yonder blessed moon I vow, 
That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops--
Juliet: O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon,
Lest that they love prove likewise variable.
Romeo: What shall I swear by?
Juliet: Do not swear at all;
Or if you wilt, swear by thy gracious self, 
Which is the god of my idolatry,
And I'll believe thee."

Tragically, the couple's love is short lived and only by their deaths are their families finally reconciled.

This was the third time I've read this play. Every time I read it, I'm more blown away by certain passages, more impressed that Shakespeare captured so well the angst and impulsiveness of young people, and so surprised to, once again, realize that there is very little stage direction in this play. Even Shakespeare can make me wonder "what was he thinking," though. Why in the world was there a scene after Juliet "dies" where a group of musicians are teasing each other? Maybe I just don't "get" it - surely Shakespeare didn't put in a throwaway scene, right?

My introduction came a very long time ago, when my dad took me to Franco Zefferelli's movie adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (I'm pretty sure my parents weren't aware there would be a bare butt scene - I was still in elementary school!). I loved, loved it then, I love it still. I'll be renting it to watch this weekend! Of course, there have been several movie adaptations, the play is a perennial favorite for summer play series, and there is even a graphic novel version and a manga version available now. So pick your poison (just make sure it's not the kind that Romeo took!).

I read it this time for the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge.


  1. I haven't read this one since high school, and I always feel like I should revisit those books I read then because reading them in a class just made me so annoyed... I have bad memories of so many books from English class!

  2. Can you believe that in all my 25 years I have never seen or read R&J? For shame. It's on a list for one of my challenges this year though, so I'm looking forward to it! Glad to hear you love it :)

  3. I love Romeo and Juliet but it's been a long time since I read it. I don't remember the scene after Juliet dies probably because it makes no sense. I wonder why Shakespeare did that, especially a light, merry scene...weird.

    A benefit of the reading challenges is they give us a chance to read stories like Romeo and Juliet that we might otherwise forget about!

  4. I love that movie and never miss a chance to watch it when it comes on. I've never been brave enough to read this one!

  5. I read this in high school and have read it many times since. It's not my favorite Shakespeare (Hamlet, King Lear) but it cannot be denied.