Shakespeare is effortlessly one of the finest British writers of all time. Many of his works are focused on life, love, death, revenge, mystery, and tragedy, and after almost four-hundred years since his death, they are still celebrated all around the world. Specially Romeo and Juliet, which between tragedy and comedy, the transition is often but slightly marked, making it one of the most frequently performed plays, and an excellent work to read or watch at any time.
Romeo and Juliet is an image of love and its pitiable destiny in a world whose environment is too sharp for the fondest bloom of human life. Two beings made for one another feel mutual love at first sight; every thought vanishes before the enticing drive to live for one another; under conditions unfriendly in the most elevated degree to their union, they unite themselves by a secret marriage, depending just on the security of an imperceptible power. Unfortunate episodes following in fast progression, their courageous fidelity is within a couple of days put to the test, until they are coercively separated from each other by a voluntary death, and are joined in hopes of meeting again one day.
This specific play contrasts yet little from the vast majority of Shakespeare’s comedies in its ingredients and treatment. It is essentially the heading that gives it the stamp of tragedy. Usually, a tragedy is known to have a “tragic hero,” which in this case, the hero is Romeo, and Juliet the heroine, making it unique by containing two tragic heroes, and twisting the plot into something more exciting and anticipated by the audience. As Eva Richardson clarified in her book, “something well expected of a “Shakespearean tragedy.” Shakespeare had a unique way of presenting things, building up the plot of the story with dramatic irony having the audience and the reader know about everything, yet the characters still clueless about what is happening all around them. For instance, the fact that the audience was aware of Juliet’s arrangement of the pill, while Romeo was not, was an ideal example of the dramatic irony expected in a Shakespeare play. It has not all been his idea though, some of it came from generations and generations of passed down literature and into his talented hands.
As many people believe, Shakespeare did not devise the tragic yet magnificent story of Romeo and Juliet. Actually, he did not even introduce it into the English language. A poet by the name of Arthur Brooks, was the one who initially brought the story of “Romeus and Juliet” to an English-speaking audience in a lengthy and ponderous poem that was itself not original, but rather a version of variations that extended across nearly a hundred years and two supplementary languages. Many details of Shakespeare’s plot are brought straight from Arthur Brook’s poem, including events such as; the meeting of Romeo and Juliet at the ball, their secret marriage, the sleeping potion, and the timing of their death. Such adoption of other stories is a known characteristic of Shakespeare, who often wrote plays based on earlier works that he adapted into something else, making it his. Shakespeare’s utilization of existing material as inspiration for his plays should not, however, be taken as an absence of originality or creativeness. Instead, readers should look at how Shakespeare makes his sources in new ways while showing an outstanding comprehension of the literary custom in which he is working, and his version of Romeo and Juliet is no exception.
In Romeo and Juliet, their love serves as a horrific tragedy. According to critic Denton J. Snider, ‘love, the emotion of the Family, in its excess destroys the Family; though it be the origin and bond of the domestic institution, it now assails and annihilates that institution.’ The love they had for one another, demolishes them and their families, and their devotion makes them defy the foundation of family. With everything taken into account, ‘love, which is the emotional ground of the Family, is here destroying the Family itself’ (Snider). The primary theme is that of the tension between the two families, and the various restrictions of the play derive from that main one. Therefore, romance is set in contrast to revenge, love in contradiction of hate, day contrary to night, sex against war, youth adjacent to age, and “tears to fires” (Shakespeare). Juliet’s monolog in Act 3, Scene 2 clarifies that it is the hardship between both families that has turned Romeo’s affection to death. On the off chance that, on occasion, Shakespeare appears to overlook the family theme in his expressive interest with the lovers, that reality just sets off their misery all the more poignantly against the background of the irrational and illogical strife between the Capulets and Montagues. For the families, all things considered, the story has a traditional comic finish; their quarrel is buried along with the lovers—which is by all accounts, the goal of the fate that induces the action.
The lovers never forget their families; their awareness of the struggle leads to another dominant theme in the play, that of identity. Romeo questions his identity to Benvolio early on in the play, and Juliet asks him, “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” (Shakespeare). At her demand, he offers to change his name and to be characterized only as one star-crossed with her. Juliet, as well, questions her identity, when she addresses the nurse after Romeo’s killing of Tybalt. Romeo later requests that the friar help him find the lodging of his name with the goal that they may cast it from his “hateful mansion,” bringing a plague upon his own house in an ironic fulfillment of Mercutio’s dying curse (Shakespeare). Only when they are in their graves, together, do the two lovers find peace from the persecution of being Capulet and Montague; they are only recollected by their first names, Romeo and Juliet, an ironic proof that their story has the advantageous political influence of the Prince, who wants the dispute to end.
In like matter, the style of the play switches back and forth between pure and poetic simple lines of profound emotion. It is all filled with conceits, puns, and wordplay, introducing the two lovers as very expressive youngsters. Their verbal wit, truth be told, is not Shakespeare’s explanatory overabundance, but part of their characters. It strengthens the impression the audience has of their unworldly natures, showing their affection as an intellectual gratitude of beauty joined at the same time with physical passion.
Their first dialogue, for instance, is a sonnet separated between both of them. In no other early play is the imagery as lavish and intricate, making the balcony speech cherished in which Romeo defines Juliet by comparing her to the sun. Not to mention Juliet’s nightingale-lark speech and her comparison of Romeo to the “day in night,” in which Romeo then progresses as he perceives, at dawn, “more light and light, more dark and dark our woes.” (Shakespeare).
Toward the start of the play, Benvolio portrays Romeo as a “love-struck swain” in the commonplace pastoral fashion. He is, as the cliché has it, deeply in love with love, because Rosaline’s actual name is not even revealed until later on in the play. He is youthful energy seeking for an outlet, sensitive gratefulness in search of a beautiful object. Mercutio and the friar comment on his changeability. The immediate sight of Juliet completely transforms Romeo’s juvenile and erotic fascination to true and constant love. He matures more swiftly than anyone realizes; only the audience understands the process, since Shakespeare makes Romeo introspective and eloquent in his monologues causing complete dramatic irony throughout the play. Even in love, however, Romeo does not discard his former romantic ideals.
When Juliet remarks, “You kiss by th’ book,” she is being incisively observant; his death is the death of an idealist, not of a foolhardy youth. He understands what he is doing, his mindfulness developing from his remark after killing Tybalt, “O, I am Fortune’s fool” (Shakespeare). Juliet is equally quick-witted and also has early forewarnings of their sudden love’s end. She is made exclusively appealing by her mixture of girlish innocence with a fetching foresight that is “wise” when compared to the shallow feelings expressed by her father, mother, and Count Paris. Juliet, in addition, is realistic as well as romantic. She realizes how to exploit her womanly delicate quality, making the audience feel both poignancy and irony when the friar remarks, at her arrival in the wedding chapel, “O, so light a foot/ Will ne’er wear out the everlasting flint!” (Shakespeare). It takes a resilient individual to do the friar’s stratagem, nevertheless; Juliet prevails in the ploy mostly in light of the fact that every other person thinks of her weak in body and in will. She is a subtle performer, telling the audience after dismissing her mother and the nurse, “My dismal scene I needs must act alone” (Shakespeare). Her quiet intelligence makes the audience’s deplorable pity all the more grounded when her “scene” moves toward becoming reality.
All this is to be found in the beautiful story which was told some time before Shakespeare’s day, and which, anyway merely told, “will forever motivate a tender sympathy; but it was reserved for Shakespeare to join in one idyllic picture purity of heart with warmth of imagination; sweetness and dignity of manners with passionate intensity of feeling.” (Andrews). Under his conduct, it has turned into a heavenly melody of admiration on that indescribable feeling which praises the spirit and gives to it its astounding sublimity, which uplifts even the sanities into the soul, while all at once, it is a melancholy elegy on its innate and conveyed frailty; it is, all at once, the apotheosis and the obsequies of love.
The play, though, remains forever that of “Juliet and her Romeo.” With his special touch of dramatic irony, and mixing tragedy with comedy, Shakespeare will always be, in my opinion, one of the most admirable and talented poets and writers of all time, and Romeo and Juliet, for more than 400 years, one of the most frequently performed plays all around the world, not to mention, forever a crowd favorite.
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