I donít know about you, but the first time I actually read the Shakespearean version of Romeo and Juliet, I was rather taken aback. Songs Iíd heard and movies Iíd watched told one version of the story, but the real deal is a bit heavier than Iíd imagined. If youíre not familiar with the tragic tale of old (young) Romeo and Juliet, hereís the fast version:
Romeo and Juliet
Two families hate each other, and the son of one family, Romeo, crashed the party of the other. Juliet, is the daughter of the party-throwing family. Romeo spies her and falls instantly in love
. Despite advice from his friend, Romeo pursues his interest during the party under the eye of his enemy. That evening he and Juliet pledge their undying love to each other in a famous balcony scene.
A man named Paris is also quite taken with Juliet and has been asking her father for her hand in marriage. Julietís father refuses and asks him to wait two more years. After all, Juliet is only fourteen years old. Now that Romeo and Juliet have agreed to be married, they must move quickly. They marry the next day with the help of a friendly friar, Friar Lawrence.
Immediately after the secret wedding
, Romeo and his friend Mercutio are walking down the street when Romeo is challenged to a duel by Julietís cousin Tybalt. (Remember, the families are still enemies.) Romeo refuses to fight Julietís family, and Mercutio thinks his friend has become a coward. He takes up the duel instead and is killed. Romeo is enraged at his friendís death and fights Tybalt anyway. He kills Tybalt and then is banished for the killing.
Meanwhile Juliet, who is now happily married but totally depressed about her husbandís banishment, is told to marry Paris after all. She refuses and her parents threaten her when she does. She runs to the Friar for help and is given a potion to make her appear dead. When she awakes, Romeo will be waiting for her in her tomb as the Friar is sending a messenger to let him know about the plan.
As things always do, the elaborate plan fails. Juliet takes the potion, appears dead and is buried. The messenger to Romeo canít get through to the deliver his crucial information, and Romeo hears of Julietís death another way. He buys poison and goes to Julietís tomb. There he fights Paris, and after killing him, takes the poison. Naturally Juliet wakes up immediately afterwards to find both men dead. There isnít any poison left, so Juliet Ė unable to live without her man Ė kills herself with his dagger. We learn a few minutes later that Romeoís mother died of grief from his banishment, and whatís left of the two families decide to end their feud.
All in all, a very depressing play.
Love It or Hate It
Most people either love Romeo and Juliet or hate is. Boys tend to hate it, in my experience, but as a girl, I can go either way. I love the romance of it Ė the masked balls, the romantic balcony scenes, the eloping and secret marriage. But I was shocked when everyone started killing themselves. What kind of wimpy people ďcanít live without their loveĒ at only fourteen? (Romeo was a bit older.) Sure, it would be terrible to find your lover gone, but why go through a rather elaborate plan to DIE when you could probably just climb down the balcony and run away in the middle of the night to be together?
As far as Iím concerned, Romeo and Juliet failed to think things through and then made the weak choice Ė both of them dying rather than mourn and deal with the loss to go on and make their lives worth living. Wimps.