An age-old vendetta between two powerful families erupts into bloodshed. A group of masked Montagues risk further conflict by gatecrashing a Capulet party. A young lovesick Romeo Montague falls instantly in love with Juliet Capulet, who is due to marry her father’s choice, the County Paris.
Why I Read It
I’ve had a complicated relationship with J&R since, like, middle school to be honest. It’s one of those plays that I’ve always been familiar with. In middle school I believe we read a few excerpts of it, enough to know what the play was about (which, honestly, could just be the first few lines…), and then I asked my parents for the play for Christmas one year. Which I never read. Because, shockingly, I did not understand how to read Shakespeare at thirteen.
So the play sat on a shelf, where it still sits right this very moment. Then we read a little more of the play in high school, enough to think I’d read all of it in its entirety, and we watched the film. You know the one. With Leo? All of this let me feel like I had a solid grasp on it and could pass as much judgment as I pleased.
I WAS WRONG. THIS ASSUMPTION WAS WRONG, OKAY?
Because, finally, I was exposed to this wrongfully-titled (for you, in the title of this blog post, but for me, in the actual title on the actual play) work in college. This is why I read it. And this, admittedly, is why I am writing this review right now. I have thoughts, both my own and from the mouths of my professor and classmates, and I’d like to share them. If you’re one of the few people in the world who do not already know what happens in this play (if you read the first few lines it literally spoils itself, but ooookay), maybe avoid this spoiler review? Unless you don’t care, then by all means continue. But I DO have a spoiler-free version, just in case.
Here we go.
My Thoughts *SPOILERS AHEAD, BEWARE*
They both die.
Talk about a spoiler, right?
I mean, can you blame me? The play literally begins by telling us what happens, including the fact that even when these two die for each other, it does NOT end the family feud and it continues on after their deaths. Yikes.
There isn’t a whole lot more that I want to say about this play that wasn’t already said in my spoiler-free review. Which is kind of backwards from how I usually feel when writing my spoiler reviews. However, in the interest of avoiding writing the same review twice, let’s talk about Romeo.
O Romeo, O Romeo, why are you actually the worst? I hate him. And when I say I hate him I mean that I really hate him. Juliet could have lived a long and happy life, I’m sure, being a strong woman if she hadn’t met him. Alas, this is the point of the play, but come on. Just imagine a world without Romeo.
He sucks at poetry. Juliet spits fire, and Romeo struggles to put a sentence together and when he manages to, they’re pathetic and sad compared to everything she says and believes. And he’s obviously only in it because he loves being in love, not because he loves anyone at all. I mean, can we TALK about Rosaline, even though the play refuses to for more than a few pages?
No, we can’t talk about Rosaline, because she’s not the point here.
Romeo is an idiot and Juliet is amazing. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. Everything you know and have been taught is a lie.
He was obsessed with Rosaline and ready to fall down and die over her not returning his love (lust?), and now he’s suddenly in love with Juliet. He can’t function unless he’s in love with someone.
Meanwhile, Juliet is busy sneakily promising her mother that she’ll “look to like, if looking liking move” (1.3.98), because she’s smart enough to know that truly falling for someone is not surface-level. Her next lines are my all-time favorite ever and I would tattoo them on my body if I could. (I guess I could?)
“But no more deep will I endart mine eye
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.” (1.3.99-100)
DUUUUUUUUUUDE! Talk about a mom burn. Let me translate: she’s going to look, but anything beyond surface-level interest is going to be limited and powered by the amount she gives credit to her mother’s consent. Which, we learn in this scene, is hilarious because obviously her mother’s consent means absolutely nothing to her. I mean, she gets with a Montague. She HATES her parents or something. Teenage angst, anyone?
So I guess this review is going to be a continuation of my love for Juliet: she basically just wants to do Romeo, and she knows her parents don’t approve of him, so she’s going all-out when it comes to him. Which I guess just leads to her death, the biggest F-U to her parents she can give. But to make it cute, we can say she loved Romeo. At least her feelings were probably more genuine than his!
If you’re wondering why I’m calling this play Juliet and Romeo instead of its “real title” *gag*, you just read the reason, basically. Juliet deserves the spotlight, Romeo is a slug, and Shakespeare really did Juliet dirty in that regard. Someday the world will understand this and we can all just collectively pressure society and dead Shakespeare into changing the name officially. But it’s kind of fun to talk about why it should be different.
If you want to see me talk about this play *cough cough* my love for Juliet *cough cough* some more, go check out my spoiler-free review! The only difference is I have different non-spoiler-y reasons for loving her. Which basically means I don’t mention that they die. *shrug*