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Erin Cook

Romeo & Juliet Is Sorely Misinterpreted

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So here are my thoughts on the immortally famous Shakespearean play Romeo & Juliet:

 

Most people around the globe seem to laud the two "heroes" of the story for being so daringly defiant and living by the premise that true love conquers all; and while that may very well be true (to a point), in reality, Romeo and Juliet behaved in a very foolish and immature manner, letting flaming passion in lieu of common sense guide their thinking; if they had truly been in love, yet proceeded in a more rational and respectful way with their courtship, they might have been spared a lot of grief and heartache, and their ultimate demises may have actually been averted. Working together, they might have even caused the Montegues and Capulets to think differently of one another, even leading to their reconciliation. It didn't have to take the death of their children to unite them, yet, sadly, that is what happened. I have nothing against a good love story; actually, they're one of my favorite things. The point I'm trying to make is that I don't think love was the ultimate issue William Shakespeare was focusing on when creating this story. There is a moral to be observed, and a very important one; I honestly believe Shakespeare did not intend for Romeo & Juliet to be portrayed as a tragic hero and heroine to be admired and looked up to; he was trying to convey the importance of the irrationality of their behavior. In other words, he wrote Romeo and Juliet to be almost like a warning to future generations not to make their same mistake. And when you think about it, it makes a heck of a lot more sense when you look at it that way. Shakespeare had a lot of insight into human nature and what made it tick; he was very wise in how he observed people and voiced some very intelligent opinions on them. Why, then, would he have been so foolish as to write a tale on blind passion and then pass it off as a good thing? 

 

At any rate, that is just my personal take on it. Feel free to have your own thoughts and opinions. I'd love to hear what you think! :)

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YESSSSSSS!!!!!!!! Finally someone who shares a similar opinion to myself :D :D :D 

 

Okay, I personally dislike Romeo and Juliet ("dislike" is a very tame description for the depth of this feeling ...). But for me, its from the viewpoint of they did't have to die. The priest could have told their families that he had married them. Juliet's nurse could have spoken up about Juliet being a married woman, thereby removing the pressure placed on Juliet to marry Paris. Romeo could have been a big boy and dealt with his grief like one, instead of committing suicide in the Capulet tomb. Juliet could have been a big girl and not done the same when she woke up and found him dead. Basically, the way I see it, there were multiple potential endings to the story. And in my opinion, a good story is one that could not have ended any other way. 

 

Granted, there is a possibility that for us 21st century readers, we are missing a fair amount of the nuances and cultural/social norms of the 16th century. Or maybe I'm just being stubborn in my dislike. Which is very possible.

 

4 hours ago, Erin Cook said:

he wrote Romeo and Juliet to be almost like a warning to future generations not to make their same mistake. And when you think about it, it makes a heck of a lot more sense when you look at it that way.

Very good point, this is. Thinking about it like this, it means that Shakespeare was an excellent (if not the first) writer of negative-example protagonists.

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Posted (edited)

    The Broadway and later Motion Picture Musical "West Side Story" was a retelling of Romeo & Juliet, as a crime drama about Juvenile Delinquents in York City, in the late 1950's.  The deaths of Toni and Maria were depicted as genuine tragedies, and could not be interpreted as anything but a warning.

    It's a great show, and the songs by Leonard Bernstein and  Stephen Sondheim, such as "Maria", "Tonight", and "Somewhere." were major "Top 40 Hits" and are among the best ever written.  They do not take away the pain of the tragedy.  They make it even worse.

   The girls I attended high school with at that time (I'm giving away my age here), left the movie theater with tears in their eyes.  As a writer, I hope that some of my writings, might have that same effect on some of my readers.

   I also like Tchaikovsky's Overture to Romeo and Juliet.  

Edited by William D'Andrea
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8 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

Or maybe I'm just being stubborn in my dislike. Which is very possible.

I don't think so; you seem to share a lot of my same viewpoints on the issue. :)

8 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

But for me, its from the viewpoint of they did't have to die

Yes!! Absolutely! My point exactly!

8 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

YESSSSSSS!!!!!!!! Finally someone who shares a similar opinion to myself :D :D :D 

LOL! I like your enthusiasm!! :D

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8 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

Very good point, this is. Thinking about it like this, it means that Shakespeare was an excellent (if not the first) writer of negative-example protagonists.

Wow; interesting thought! He may very well have been the first. 

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3 hours ago, William D'Andrea said:

    The Broadway and later Motion Picture Musical "West Side Story" was a retelling of Romeo & Juliet, as a crime drama about Juvenile Delinquents in York City, in the late 1950's.  The deaths of Toni and Maria were depicted as genuine tragedies, and could not be interpreted as anything but a warning.

    It's a great show, and the songs by Leonard Bernstein and  Stephen Sondheim, such as "Maria", "Tonight", and "Somewhere." were major "Top 40 Hits" and are among the best ever written.  They do not take away the pain of the tragedy.  They make it even worse.

   The girls I attended high school with at that time (I'm giving away my age here), left the movie theater with tears in their eyes.  As a writer, I hope that some of my writings, might have that same effect on some of my readers. 

I've heard about that musical, but am not too familiar with it. You've just peaked my interest! I'm going to have to look into it now. :)

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Erin Cook said:

I've heard about that musical, but am not too familiar with it. You've just peaked my interest! I'm going to have to look into it now. :)

Like I said, it's a great movie.  I'm sure you'll enjoy the show! 

Edited by William D'Andrea
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1 hour ago, lynnmosher said:

I'm old, too. Saw the movie 5 times! :D

I wouldn't be at all surprised if you sat there singing "I Feel Pretty", along with Natalie Wood.

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35 minutes ago, William D'Andrea said:

Like I said, it's a great movie.  I'm sure you'll enjoy the show! 

Now I'll really have to look into it! :)

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22 hours ago, Erin Cook said:

if they had truly been in love, yet proceeded in a more rational and respectful way with their courtship, they might have been spared a lot of grief and heartache, and their ultimate demises may have actually been averted. Working together, they might have even caused the Montegues and Capulets to think differently of one another, even leading to their reconciliation.

 

Erin, Sorry, but I have to respectfully disagree with this assertion. R&J is a tragedy in the classic sense, which means that the main character(s) have a flaw that ultimately leads to their downfall. Granted it is set in a romantic vein, but Romeo's impulsiveness, both in marrying, and in killing himself when he thinks Juliet is dead, is a tragic flaw.

 

As to whether R&J could have caused the Capulets and Montegues to reconcile, I don't think Shakespeare would agree. Look at the prologue. The red lines indicate that the only way the families would be reconciled is because of the tragic death of the young lovers:

 

"Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.

The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,

Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend."

 

Of course, you're free to completely disagree. :)

 

Disclaimer: I actually acted (poorly, I suspect) the role of Romeo in a high school play.😛

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1 hour ago, RADerdeyn said:

Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.

The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,

 

Of course, you're free to completely disagree. :)

 

Disclaimer: I actually acted (poorly, I suspect) the role of Romeo in a high school play.😛

Good point, RADerdeyn. That makes a lot of sense. :)

 

And, really, I understand not everyone can have exactly the same viewpoints on this matter; that was half the fun of my creating this topic, so that people could come together and compare notes, each expressing his/her own opinion. A lot of interesting discussion can be raised from topics like these. :D

 

And, wow, that's neat that you played Romeo! I'm sure you were much better than you give yourself credit for. :)

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I'm now looking at this from a writer's viewpoint.  In the eloquent prologue that's quoted here, Shakespeare was actually giving away the entire plot?  Just before the two hour's traffic on the stage of the Globe Theater, actually began?

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You know the teaching moto don't you- 

1. tell them what you're going to tell them.

2. Tell them.

3. Tell them what you told them.

 

We all seem to learn in threes.  I love that little refrain. Everyone seems to remember things better when a teacher does that. And isn't writing part of teaching? many of our most profound memories have come from someone sharing their thoughts in a way we can remember.

 

The other thing is to use imagining.  Einstein said "That which I cannot imagine, I cannot remember."

Marykatithe

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Posted (edited)

   Congratulations on your smash performance as Juliet!

  The teaching motto that you quoted is appropriate for lectures, speeches, and sermons, but not for works of fiction, in which the writer wants to keep the reader wondering what will happen next, without telling him or her before hand.

   The introduction to a work of fiction should give enough information to explain what the story is about, but no more than that.

   I have written a vampire tale, which is posted on a different website, titled "Sangreville".  I think that title is entertainingly sinister.

  The plot summary states, "A high school girl reluctantly moves with her desperate mother to a 'vampire town' where the living and un-dead have agreed to a truce.  After the girl enrolls in her new school, she's told that she '...can get away with anything you want.'  The new girl tries to fit in."  

   I hope that's enough information, which doesn't give away the plot or the ending, to interest at least one, and hopefully more readers.

Edited by William D'Andrea
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Sounds intriguing... 

I have tried using both Dramatica and Snowflake method. I also follow Jim Butcher who has said you need to summarize your entire book in less than 15 words.  What is Scrivener?

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1 hour ago, MaryKaithe said:

Oh and I played Juliet in high school. I was a smash.  lol

That's awesome!! Congratulations!! :D

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42 minutes ago, William D'Andrea said:

The introduction to a work of fiction should give enough information to explain what the story is about, but no more than that.

I agree with William; you don't, after all, want to give away the ending before the story even starts. Just tease the readers a little, like the teasers and trailers you might see for a movie or a game. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm not too familiar with Scrivener myself; could you shed some informative light in my direction as well? :D

Edited by Erin Cook

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6 hours ago, William D'Andrea said:

I'm now looking at this from a writer's viewpoint.  In the eloquent prologue that's quoted here, Shakespeare was actually giving away the entire plot?

Yeah, that Shakespeare guy was no dummy. Look at the last line; it's the hook: "What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend." He is inviting the audience to watch in case the Prologue doesn't quite tell the whole story.

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16 hours ago, MaryKaithe said:

What is Scrivener?

 

16 hours ago, Erin Cook said:

I'm not too familiar with Scrivener myself

Just to answer the questions in brief, Scrivener is a writing program for authors. So where Microsoft Word is targeting business writing (which is generally less words), Scrivener targets authors needing to organize and write full length novels. Basically, you create what is called a "project" in Scrivener, and in this project you can do character outlines, plotting, create and write chapters scene-by-scene, rearrange the scenes you write, go into full-screen mode, and do all of this without once leaving the program itself. Oh, and you can "compile" (equivalent to "export" in Microsoft Word) your finished manuscript into .docx files (Microsoft Word files), .pdf (Adobe reader), .epub (e-books) and a few other formats that I can't think of off-hand. 

 

In short, Scrivener is awesome for those long and often messy manuscripts :) 

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