Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

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Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare along with Hamlet Prince of Denmark, from the same author, is one of the most popular novels. It is a tragic play that ultimately unites two quarreling families. It is not exactly established when the novel was written. However, it was published for the first time in 1597. To date, Romeo and Juliet has been adapted into numerous movies, plays, and musicals.

Introduction

Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous and enduring stories ever. The play was in the city of Verona in Italy, where two most famous families Montagues and the Capulets swear to be enemies for life.  However, their family members, Romeo and Juliet, fall in love and plan to marry in secret. Juliet refused to marry her father’s choice, who happens to be count Paris and secretly marries Romeo for love. The two long feuding families dump their ego and agree to end their feud for peace due to the tragedy.

William Shakespeare, one of the greatest authors of all time, was able to use his artistry to create a novel in between comedy and tragedy to raise tension further. In 2008 Romeo and Juliet was voted as the best book for young adults by the American Library Association.

Overview

In the streets of Verona, another brawl breaks out between the servants of the feuding noble families of Capulet and Montague. Benvolio, a Montague, tries to stop the fighting but is himself embroiled when the rash Capulet, Tybalt, arrives on the scene. After citizens outraged by the constant violence beat back the warring factions, Prince Escalus, the ruler of Verona, attempts to prevent any further conflicts between the families by decreeing death for any individual who disturbs the peace in the future.

Romeo, the son of Montague, runs into his cousin Benvolio, who had earlier seen Romeo moping in a grove of sycamores. After some prodding by Benvolio, Romeo confides that he is in love with Rosaline, a woman who does not return his affections. Benvolio counsels him to forget this woman and find another, more beautiful one, but Romeo remains despondent.

Meanwhile, Paris, a kinsman of the Prince, seeks Juliet’s hand in marriage. Her father, Capulet, though happy at the match, asks Paris to wait two years since Juliet is not yet even fourteen. Capulet dispatches a servant with a list of people to invite to a masquerade and feast he traditionally holds. He invites Paris to the feast, hoping that Paris will begin to win Juliet’s heart.

Romeo and Benvolio, still discussing Rosaline, encounter the Capulet servant bearing the list of invitations. Benvolio suggests that they attend since that will allow Romeo to compare his beloved to other beautiful women of Verona. Romeo agrees to go with Benvolio to the feast, but only because Rosaline, whose name he reads on the list, will be there.

In Capulet’s household, young Juliet talks with her mother, Lady Capulet, and her nurse about the possibility of marrying Paris. Juliet has not yet considered marriage but agrees to look at Paris during the feast to see if she thinks she could fall in love with him.

The feast begins. A melancholy Romeo follows Benvolio and their witty friend Mercutio to Capulet’s house. Once inside, Romeo sees Juliet from a distance and instantly falls in love with her; he forgets about Rosaline completely. As Romeo watches Juliet, entranced, a young Capulet, Tybalt, recognizes him, and is enraged that a Montague would sneak into a Capulet feast. He prepares to attack, but Capulet holds him back. Soon, Romeo speaks to Juliet, and the two experience a profound attraction. They kiss, not even knowing each other’s names. When he finds out from Juliet’s nurse that she is the daughter of Capulet—his family’s enemy—he becomes distraught. When Juliet learns that the young man she has just kissed is the son of Montague, she grows equally upset.

As Mercutio and Benvolio leave the Capulet estate, Romeo leaps over the orchard wall into the garden, unable to leave Juliet behind. From his hiding place, he sees Juliet in a window above the orchard and hears her speak his name. He calls out to her, and they exchange vows of love.

Romeo hurries to see his friend and confessor Friar Lawrence, who, though shocked at the sudden turn of Romeo’s heart, agrees to marry the young lovers in secret since he sees in their love the possibility of ending the age-old feud between Capulet and Montague. The following day, Romeo and Juliet meet at Friar Lawrence’s cell and are married. The Nurse, who is privy to the secret, procures a ladder, which Romeo will use to climb into Juliet’s window for their wedding night.

The next day, Benvolio and Mercutio encounter Tybalt—Juliet’s cousin—who, still enraged that Romeo attended Capulet’s feast, has challenged Romeo to a duel. Romeo appears. Now Tybalt’s kinsman by marriage, Romeo begs the Capulet to hold off the duel until he understands why Romeo does not want to fight. Disgusted with this plea for peace, Mercutio says that he will fight Tybalt himself. The two begin to duel. Romeo tries to stop them by leaping between the combatants. Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, and Mercutio dies. Romeo, in a rage, kills Tybalt. Romeo flees from the scene. Soon after, the Prince declares him forever banished from Verona for his crime. Friar Lawrence arranges for Romeo to spend his wedding night with Juliet before he has to leave for Mantua the following morning.

In her room, Juliet awaits the arrival of her new husband. The Nurse enters, and, after some confusion, tells Juliet that Romeo has killed Tybalt. Distraught, Juliet suddenly finds herself married to a man who has killed her kinsman. But she resettles herself and realizes that her duty belongs with her love: to Romeo.

Romeo sneaks into Juliet’s room that night, and at last, they consummate their marriage and their love. Morning comes, and the lovers bid farewell, unsure when they will see each other again. Juliet learns that her father, affected by the recent events, now intends for her to marry Paris in just three days. Unsure of how to proceed—unable to reveal to her parents that she is married to Romeo, but unwilling to marry Paris now that she is Romeo’s wife—Juliet asks her nurse for advice. She counsels Juliet to proceed as if Romeo were dead and to marry Paris, who is a better match anyway. Disgusted with the Nurse’s disloyalty, Juliet disregards her advice and hurries to Friar Lawrence. He concocts a plan to reunite Juliet with Romeo in Mantua. The night before her wedding to Paris, Juliet must drink a potion that will make her appear to be dead. After she is laid to rest in the family’s crypt, the Friar and Romeo will secretly retrieve her, and she will be free to live with Romeo, away from their parents’ feuding.

Juliet returns home to discover the wedding has been moved ahead one day, and she is to be married tomorrow. That night, Juliet drinks the potion, and the Nurse discovers her, apparently dead, the next morning. The Capulets grieve, and Juliet is entombed according to plan. But Friar Lawrence’s message explaining the plan to Romeo never reaches Mantua. Its bearer, Friar John, gets confined to a quarantined house. Romeo hears only that Juliet is dead.

Romeo learns only of Juliet’s death and decides to kill himself rather than live without her. He buys a vial of poison from a reluctant Apothecary, then speeds back to Verona to take his own life at Juliet’s tomb. Outside the Capulet crypt, Romeo comes upon Paris, who is scattering flowers on Juliet’s grave. They fight, and Romeo kills Paris. He enters the tomb, sees Juliet’s inanimate body, drinks the poison, and dies by her side. Just then, Friar Lawrence enters and realizes that Romeo has killed Paris and himself. At the same time, Juliet awakes. Friar Lawrence hears the coming of the watch. When Juliet refuses to leave with him, he flees alone. Juliet sees her beloved Romeo and realizes he has killed himself with poison. She kisses his poisoned lips, and when that does not kill her, she buries his dagger in her chest, falling dead upon his body.

The watch arrives, followed closely by the Prince, the Capulets, and Montague. Montague declares that Lady Montague has died of grief over Romeo’s exile. Seeing their children’s bodies, Capulet and Montague agree to end their long-standing feud and to raise gold statues of their children side-by-side in a newly peaceful Verona.

In the book, Social norms, pride, and honor affect Romeo and Juliet irreversibly.

The forcefulness of Love

Romeo and Juliet has, over the centuries, cut across as the most outstanding love story. Readers weep reading through the novel as the audience cry watching its film adaptation. Across the book, the most dominant theme is love. Romeo and Juliet fall in love amid a family feud. This shows young people that love at first sight is possible. It also shows the transition that most children suffer and the repercussions of going against parents’ or families’ wishes. Well, it also tells us that true love can heal all wounds. This is depicted in the book when the two feuding families attend the funeral together peacefully. In the end, Romeo and Juliet reunite their families because of the love they have for one another.

Even though the book focuses on romantic love, you would still realize that with love, you can conquer any obstacle in life. Also, you can gain the love of others; achieve your goals and aspirations. For instance, Romeo and his friends love one another. While his friend Mercutio offers radical advice, Benvolio brings rational solutions.

Love can capture individuals and catapult them away from their obstacles. Most of the innovative products we have today came as a result of love and passion. Steve Job’s love for simplicity and apple fueled a design revolution. He was passionate to the point of being obsessed about design that he insisted his computers looked perfect inside and out. Another person we can mention here is James Gosling. This great man painstakingly formed the Java language because of love and passion for his craft as well. We all know the importance of that programming language to our modern world.

Violence and desperation

The theme of violence is a major one in Romeo and Juliet. Blind passion, hatred, pride, and desperations are the causes of violence in the novel. When Tybalt unintentionally kills Mercutio, Romeo refuses to fight him. Unfortunately, Romeo kills Tybalt, and Paris finally out of desperation. Also, the love of Romeo and Juliet makes them commit suicide, which is also an example of desperation and violence.

Romeo and Juliet teach us that we should not be desperate. You make the most mistakes when you are desperate. In business, in life and your career, never show a hint of desperation. You may have a feeling that you have lost almost all hope or lost the ability to reach a goal. At that moment, you start to show desperation and stops thinking right. In that state, you make mistakes, or people take advantage of you once they notice that you’re worried.

One thing that should advise us against desperation is that someone can become willing to do anything to achieve goals. If you’re not careful, you’ll see yourself breaking the laws, begging for help, compromising your standards and moral values. This behavior can be irrational and sometimes lead to surprising outcomes. In Romeo and Juliet, desperation leads to the death of several persons.

Another lesson in the book is to think before acting. Romeo is banished from the city because of his careless act. In a moment of desperation, he kills two members of Juliet’s family. One has to think thoroughly before acting because there are many ways to solve a problem. Unfortunately, the Capulet loses their daughter Juliet and the Montague Romeo before the two families strike a peace deal. Too late, though, because all of them are losers. Finally, the book also teaches us that sometimes we should walk away from trouble when we can.

The Individual versus Society

Most of Romeo and Juliet talk about the lovers’ struggle between social and public institutions.  These social institutions always opposed their relationship and always presented obstacles for them. The enmity between the two families, royalty, and honor all combined to create a profound conflict for the lovers.

Life is a struggle, and no matter what you do, there must be obstacles. In our world today, we are socially conditioned to look at only the negative. These obstacles can prevent us from seeing beyond them if we don’t address them. You have to be steadfast in whatever you do and understand that obstacles are meant to develop you. Romeo and Juliet also had religious challenges to overcome, and they could not abide by them because of their love. So, the novel shows that if we love one another irrespective of religion and affiliation, there would be peace in the world.

In our society, religious fanatics are causing a lot of problems, and religious violence is on the rise. In the last ten years, there has been a sharp increase in violent sectarian or religious tension around the world. This is evident in Islamic extremist wagging a jihad war in many countries. We also witnessed the power struggle between the Sunni and the Shia Muslims in the Middle East. We saw a massive outbreak of violence between Christians and Muslims in Africa.

Yes!  There was peace when Romeo and Juliet died, but the book teaches us to love and respect each other irrespective of religious affiliations. According to estimates in 2018, more than a quarter of the countries in the world experienced hostilities motivated by religious hatred. That’s why everybody should remember the cost of the feud. Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished by the Prince of Verona.

Selfishness

At a certain point, parents should allow their children to make certain decisions for themselves. We should not raise our children with selfish motives or make biased decisions for them. In Romeo and Juliet, the parents never wanted them to be in love as a result of their selfish interests. The patriarchal power structure inherent in Renaissance families means that the father can control all other family members the way he likes. Men alone should not control society. Women should also have a say and should make decisions.

Sometimes we should also allow our children to make a decision and guide them instead of dictating them. Here are the reasons why you need to that: it builds their confidence; if you allow your children to make some inputs, they can begin to feel important and have great confidence in their abilities. Also, allowing children to have some say can make them feel important. Allowing your kids to decide also gives them personal delight and helps them discover some of their hidden talents.

Not allowing them to make their decisions can make them become introverts and secretive and do the wrongs things that can put them in trouble. If you let them make some decisions, then you can guide them and keep them away from harm’s way. A boy wanted to learn to swim, but his father objected. One day he decided to go to a pool party to learn to swim secretly.  Unfortunately, he drowned in the process. If the dad had accepted and agreed to take him for swimming lessons, he wouldn’t have died.

Conclusion

When we think of love, Shakespeare’s play, or romantic novels, Romeo and Juliet come to our mind. This novel is among the greatest love stories in the history of the world. It has inspired a lot of movies, plays, and people. The novel centers mostly on teaching that love can renew, heal, cast out our fears, inspire, and move us.

Romeo and Juliet is a timeless play and a masterpiece. The author, William Shakespeare, is one of the most celebrated novelists in the history of the world. The Novel epitomizes brilliance, creativity, and innovation. Love can bring peace and harmony to our world today.

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