5 thoughts on “Romeo and Juliet from The Shakespeare Company

  1. Dear Class,

    It was mentioned in Socratic that the objective of the play was centered around the idea that Romeo and Juliet presented such a passion brought on by their eternal love, that it allowed the viewers to feel a sense of longing for the lack of companionship within their own lives. We, as humans, rely on love as a deep passion to keep us going, and if such passion is not linked to another living soul, we try to satisfy ourselves with the hollowness of materialistic objects or forms of entertainment, such as sports or books. We force ourselves to believe that such objects are what we can spend our entire lives loving, even if they fail to return such affection, but the truth of the matter is that every soul longs to be loved, and so one cannot spend an entire lifetime without the feel of such intimate passion. I would argue that the love portrayed in the play is not realistic in our current day and age, but perhaps Shakespeare is trying to exemplify the strength of such love–how it can turn war into peace. However, a force so powerful in the hands of man can be dangerous, and so the passion presented may be an ethereal kind, not attainable by the human spirit, but still something that it desperately craves. For if mankind were able to experience such passion, it would result only in bloodshed. Ironically, both war and love resulted in bloodshed within the play, yet the reasoning behind such actions juxtapose each other–one was justified by hatred, the other by the unbearable thought of one’s passion dying with their only love. The notion tha such strong desire cannot be felt by the human spirit is supported by the last scene, where the lanterns were held up by all the cast members, giving off the impression of a starry night, as though the entire play were enacted at the will of the Heaven’s–at the will of something greater. Essentially, the love mankind experiences can be compared to a steady flame–like one of a candle. However, if one is not careful, that flame may grow to become a raging fire that may consume both lovers, leaving all but ashes in its wake to remind the rest of humanity that yes, such love existed, but the intensity of a single passion will only result in devastation.

    Sincerely,
    Sania

    1. In reply to Sania:

      It was an interesting point when you mentioned the connection to materialism, especially with the problem it instils within many of us in modern-day society. As you said, we turn to objects that truly have no true meaning to us in comparison to actual human connection. We crave what we cannot have, so we substitute it with objects – the meaning of which is merely a façade to hide the true yearning in our hearts for intimacy. This is perhaps why Romeo and Juliet is still such a beloved play, even in modern times. However, I would offer that perhaps another reason why it is still so recognized and celebrated is the representation of what we want to believe is *pure* love. I believe that Romeo and Juliet represent the idea of love in the face of adversity. Yes, their love is certainly not plausible, and likely would not occur today, but I think it symbolizes how love can be found in the most random of places (excuse the cliché).

      We talked in the Socratic discussion about how their love may also be a way to rebel against the constraints of Romeo and Juliet’s family feud. While I believe this to be partially true, I don’t believe it is the main construct that Shakespeare was trying to get across. I would offer that – in contrast to “how it can turn war into peace” – Shakespeare was perhaps trying to demonstrate how love may be the catalyst for loss. In the events of the play – 6 people had died, either as a direct or indirect result of the love blossoming between Romeo and Juliet. Ultimately, their love was also unfortunately consumed by the very fire that they had lit themselves; demonstrating the pessimistic standpoint of how love may only breed loss. In society, many do not love for fear of such loss – it is the paradox that that is controlled by the hands of fate themselves. Either we love and achieve fulfilment, or we love and achieve loss. Humanity takes a leap of faith in choosing to love another unconditionally. But the bond, when it is there, is everlasting.

      Sincerely,
      Carmen 🙂

  2. So while we had that Socratic discussion in the drama room, somethings struck had struck me other than a sudden rush of insanity.

    the number 3 and the concept of fate

    Shakespeare’s works wee largely influenced by Greek literature and mythology; Greek culture if you will. Now in Greek mythology there has been a certain significance of the number 3. 3 main gods, 3 fates, 3 witches and 3 realms for example. This “3” is also seen in Shakespeare’s works to some extent. Three witches of “Macbeth”, the Montagues, Capulets and their mutual hate are three powerful factors of “Romeo and Juliet” as well as the two lovers themselves and their love. There is always 3. This is also very well seen in “Antigone” in a sense. The chorus could be argued to be the three fates themselves (cited Hope). Now the three fates as Greek mythology dictates are the ones who determine an individual’s fate, decided by a string. So in my moments of Insanity that class I had come up with something: the cord around Antigone’s waist was the very same cord that she was hung by, the very same cord that “lifted her”above everyone else (cited Megan…. I think) similarly it was the one she wore and it went where she went and this is what I thought: this is the cord the 3 fates had cut for Antigone and given it to her, in a sense her fate itself was the death of her and it was her fate that was the entity that had risen her above all else. Antigone was bound to her fate. Just as how Romeo and Juliet were. For it is in a tragedy that fate cuts the strings from the beginning.

    ~Nilava

  3. Dear class,

    The motif’s of paradox and opposites is clearly displayed throughout the entire play.
    Love. Hate.
    Youth. Age.
    Life. Death.
    Even the characters.
    Mercutio. Tybalt.
    Romeo. Juliet.
    Capulet. Montague.
    “My only love sprung from my only hate.” -I.v.138
    “My grave is to be like my wedding bed.” -I.v.132
    The contrast of the characters, their lines, and certain elements of the story serve to provide the drama with more intensity.

    What caught me the most watching the entire production was the pace. I supposed it was not just the pace, but how that pace affected the atmosphere of the whole production. Though the play itself was long, I couldn’t help but become encaptured in the haste and speed at which everything was occurring. We, the audience, barely have time to react, and the same goes for the characters. By compressing the love story to just a few days, Shakespeare effectively creates an atmosphere of heightened pressure which keeps you on the edge of your seats.

    Spinning off of this, through the rushed pace of the play we see that their attraction is immediate. Romeo goes to the party in hopes to see his lovely Roseline but instead, immediately falls for Juliet. They frequently mention each others beauty, which is what I believe leads many people to think that their relationship is one based off of lust. But to me, it seems more like destiny is what draws them together. In accordance with the people that disagree, I believe that, though quick, their love was undeniable. Neither they nor the audience need to question it.
    Although I personally believe their love was inevitable, it is understandable how many see the in-authenticity of their love. Many situations are rushed and rash decisions are made; such as their wedding, Romeo’s anger leading to Tybalt’s death, and the immediate suicide they both concur to when they believe the other is dead. Even after the Friar informs Romeo of his banishment, he suddenly wants to kill himself. In my mind I was thinking, “What about Juliet who is alive and well?”
    “Juliet whom you fell in love with?”
    “Juliet whom you said you would give your all to?”
    No, he would rather throw away his life than not be together.

    Their deaths beg the questions: Destined or Dumb? Inescapable or Inane?
    Were the two youth merely acting upon teenage whim? Or were they truly bound to each other in love by fate?
    Perhaps, it was not even their love that was the issue, but the world around them.
    Perhaps their love was too pure for such a hate-filled and bitter world.
    Perhaps, Romeo and Juliet were not meant to be together on earth, but in heaven.

    Sincerely,

    Timi A:)

  4. To All,

    Seeing Romeo and Juliet live has truly shifted some of my perspectives and opinions concerning this play, and for that reason there are a few things that I would like to bring up, the first of them being; What if Romeo didn’t actually love Juliet?

    I only ask this because, if you recall, in the beginning of the play, Romeo has just been rejected by Rosaline and is still pining after her. Romeo had been so sure that Rosaline was the love of his life, his one and only. When Rosaline did not return his ‘love’, Romeo had fallen into a melancholy state, a state that was devoid of happiness and light. A state that left him ‘broken’. Romeo was still mourning the ‘loss’ of Rosaline (even though it is not possible to lose something that was never yours), when he met Juliet. Or, rather, laid eyes on her. In my opinion, there is something so false about how quickly he could just shift gears, without even speaking to Juliet. It was instantaneous the way that he ‘fell’ for Juliet. So with that said, is it perhaps possible that Romeo’s ‘feelings’ for Rosaline had been what caused him to want Juliet so badly? When you think about it, it makes sense; Romeo was desperate and hurt. It could have been highly probable that, in his longing and want of Rosaline, in his pain at the fact that Rosaline did not reciprocate his feelings, Romeo’s left over feelings for Rosaline were what lead him to believe that he was in love with Juliet. I suppose that one could retort and say, “Well what about Love At First Sight?”, and to that I say this; I don’t know. I am not sure if I even believe in Love At First Sight. I think that sometimes the human race confuses love with lust, confuses it with merely physical attraction, with passion. So, I am not sure if Love At First Sight really exists, but could it instead be a Spark? Perhaps it was something in the atmosphere that night. Because, Romeo would have been frustrated at Rosaline, and Juliet would have been frustrated at the fact that she was being forced into a marriage with Paris. With that said, could Juliet have rushed into a relationship with Romeo because she didn’t want to marry Paris? Could that have been an attempt to prevent that unwanted marriage from happening? I do believe that these things contributed to Romeo and Juliet’s haste in their relationship. But love? I am just not so sure. After all, who am I to speak against Love At First Sight when I, myself, remain so unexperienced in this area? I think, right now, that I believe that Romeo and Juliet were merely attracted to each other; there was a Spark. It is said that the brightest flames are the ones that burn out the fastest, however I also believe that, in time, they could have grown to love each other. Besides, isn’t it typical of teenagers (at least of that time) to rush into things like relationships and marriage with the first person that they feel attracted to?

    The second thing that I would like to bring to attention is the fact that, in the version that we saw, Benvolio was a girl. Personally, I LOVED it, because I believe that it brought a whole new dimension to the play, and by this I mean that it was painfully obvious that Benvolio was in love with Romeo. In contrast to Romeo and Juliet’s ‘love’ for one another, I truly believe that Benvolio’s love for her cousin was real. This was displayed through all of the kisses that were shared between Benvolio and Romeo, as well as through the way that some of Benvolio’s lines were delivered. (When she tells Romeo that she shall find him another eligible woman at the Capulet’s party, Benvolio was implying that she was that eligible woman.) Benvolio was very flirty with Romeo, but I don’t think that Romeo even noticed, for he was too caught up in his own pain, and in his own self-importance, if you will. This was a whole new tragedy in and of itself, because Benvolio had to live with the fact that Romeo would never love her that way because of Juliet. She had to watch Romeo move from girl to girl, and this would have hurt her deeply. Furthermore, when Romeo killed himself for Juliet, Benvolio would have to live the rest of her life with a harsh reality hanging over her shoulders; not only was Romeo dead, but Romeo died FOR Juliet. Romeo died to be with Juliet, but he wouldn’t live to be with Benvolio.

    I think that there is a difference between loving someone and being IN love with someone, and maybe that is why Romeo couldn’t recognise this in his cousin’s love for him; perhaps the fact that Benvolio was in love with Romeo was too real for Romeo, for he knew that it would be serious, and it would last. With that said, could the appeal of Juliet to Romeo have been because she was outlawed, and for that reason, their ‘love’ would never last? There seems to be a pattern in the girls that Romeo goes for. They are all forbidden, for one reason or another. Does this speak to the character of Romeo? Or does this just speak to the characters of (not all) men?

    To take it back a little bit, and to shift gears, I would just like to point out the set design, costuming, and music in this play, for me, really accentuated the story. As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons that Romeo and Juliet could have ‘fallen’ for each other so quickly was because of the tension in the atmosphere that night. I think that the costuming and the set design really added to this, because there was a hot, dark undertone throughout the whole play that made the atmosphere thick and passionate, at least in my opinion. I loved that there was a gothic-vibe to this version, and I just think that it really added an edge Romeo and Juliet, one that I have never seen before.

    Overall, most of what was said in this comment was merely speculation, for I do love this play. I do, however, think that I have established my own truth through this speculation, and have formulated my opinion on this story.

    Infinite love and gratitude,

    Hope

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