"Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo?"
I've seen way too many skits/parodies for this, and I perfected the plot even before I read the unabridged manuscript. The 1968 movie version (which we were all forced to watch for English Class *cringe*) did feature two very good-looking leads, but basically, I didn't have any respect for two shockingly young idiots who killed themselves for [puppy] love.
We were forced to make a play for this. I wasn't a happy camper, especially since I was pushed into making our script. Why should we make a play for this, when we already know what's going to happen? Talk about milking it. I don’t think there’s a person who has never heard of Romeo and Juliet. Granted, we were given freedom to change the ending, but aside from that, there is no element of surprise.
What I didn't count on was that the element of surprise, was my new-found respect for Will Shakespeare.
I have to hand it to Shakespeare: he’s a brilliant writer, not only because of the things he writes of, but because of the way he writes them. The words flow wonderfully. It was then that I understood why we had to learn Shakespeare in school: reading his works is a celebration of words.
Taken out of context, Romeo falling in love with Juliet just after he was dumped by Rosaline, induces one to roll one’s eyes. But damn, did you read what Romeo says about Juliet?
“Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.”
A lot of people dissent: This is a romantic story; No, it is not. Whatever it may be, I do believe that Romeo and Juliet’s passion is touching, and in the first few acts, enviable. There are way too many lines between them that I love!
I also believe that it is a cautionary tale. That it was intended to be a tragedy, for R & J to act stupidly because we act stupidly in love, too. And so enter Friar Lawrence to deliver us a most important speech:
These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
And in the taste confounds the appetite.
Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so.
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.
Thank God for sparknotes, seriously, for this interpretation: These sudden joys have sudden endings. They burn up in victory like fire and gunpowder. When they meet, as in a kiss, they explode. Too much honey is delicious, but it makes you sick to your stomach. Therefore, love each other in moderation. That is the key to long-lasting love. Too fast is as bad as too slow.
Romeo and Juliet made me look at Shakespeare in a whole new light. It made me realize that Shakespeare really is a writing genius. I have a long way into fully appreciating him, since R & J is the only play I’ve read. I do think there will come a time when I will finally muster up the motivation to read through another Shakespeare again.