Review of "Romeo and Juliet"

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Michael Sender
Review of “Romeo and Juliet”


And so was my first experience of Shakespeare’s work. I now have realised that school is really good for one thing: it makes you do things you don’t have time for after school. Like reading Shakespeare. I have been curious about and wished to read his works for a long time, but there has always been something else I had to do first. For the first time now I could give reading of “Romeo and Juliet” priority, which I feel no regret for.

If to be honest, I see no point in retelling the story of “Romeo and Juliet”. This one is, alike “Titanic”, a sort of story you don’t have to read to know what it is about. This tale is in fact so well known that one may wonder for what reason we had to read it. I have put this question to myself before opening the book, but while reading it I understood that the story itself was of no greater importance compared to the text as it is. So skilfully formed and so artistically expressed, the language of William Shakespeare is the treasure of his art. If not to pay attention to the difficulties I experienced understanding the meaning of some words, I may frankly say that reading “Romeo and Juliet” has been a pleasure and a discovery. A discovery of a way of expressing thoughts that I have never seen before. A beautiful and advanced language, which is what a linguistic freak like me longs to. To this I shall return with more comments. For now I thought it proper still to retell the story, as I am afraid my grade depends on this.

I will try to be short, as I know this part is of no bigger interest to anyone. The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is certainly about love between two people. Still its main topic is, I think, the foolish and destructive hatred between two clans. The clan war had put an end to the two lovers’ lives, while their death and their love had put an end to the war. No Capulet had ever had a warm feeling for a Montague, until the night when at a carnival feast the eyes of Romeo Montague met the ones of Juliet Capulet. That was the point where the fortress wall between the clans started to fall. As Juliet and Romeo fell in love with each other, they got secretly married. The same day there was a quarrel between Romeo’s cousin Mercutio and Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, in which Mercutio was stabbed to death. This event had awakened the anger of Romeo, who killed Tybalt in revenge. For that Romeo was doomed to exile by the prince of Verona , while Juliet’s father, knowing nothing about his daughter’s recent marriage, decided to marry her to a nobleman named Paris. To escape this new marriage, Juliet simulated her death, using a drug given to her by friar Laurence. While she was being buried, friar sent a letter to Romeo, explaining that his wife was in a simulated sleep and should wake up and meet him soon. Unfortunately this letter never reached its destination. Deepened in sorrow, Romeo went to Juliet’s monument to take his own life there. Waking up and finding her husband dead, Juliet did not think twice before committing suicide at that very same place. When both families to the deceased were gathered at the place, friar Laurence through his tears told them the whole story. After realising what harm their hatred had caused, Montagues and Capulets had sworn to put an end to their war, and so they did.

It was a great pleasure to get an insight into the way of speech and expression of the days when Shakespeare carried out his work. Much of the vocabulary differs from our days. Expressions are beautifully formed and rich with words. The speech of today seems dull and primitive to me, after reading a work of Shakespeare. This must be where our civilisation has gone backwards, distinguished by technological progress. All factors of our modern society show development towards a more equalised culture, architecture and speech. I even get an impression of a slow degradation of art, as I personally do not find modern art so very artistic. It seems to me that in the old days there was art in every sentence a man’s lips let off. Now they only let off the facts, hoping for the listener’s imagination to do the rest. Our world today is therefore not much for romance. Still I observed some significant elements in Shakespeare’s language that are surprisingly alike the ones we may hear these days. And such are not only expressions. Reading the replicas of the characters, I partly understood their way of thinking and was surprised to find it much alike the way people think today. I especially paid attention to their sense of humour. I was amazed to find their jokes as funny as the modern ones. This means that in our heads we have not changed so drastically after all these years. And the whole story shows of course that in our hearts we haven’t changed at all. Love has perhaps lived longer than any other human sense, since the very dawn of the human race. And just as long ...

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Inactive member [2000-07-05]   Review of "Romeo and Juliet"
Mimers Brunn [Online]. http://mimersbrunn.se/article?id=94 [2018-10-18]

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