This is my classic for the month, so nobody complain about that, alright? Ok, let’s get into this. There are a couple of reasons I read this book. One, was because I needed a classic for the month and what is more classic than Shakespeare? Two, I wanted to do a comparison between Warm Bodies and Romeo and Juliet, that’s on the way. I will admit, I have read this before. It’s been a while. I think I had to read it for a class or two in high school and in college. I am not a huge fan of Skakespeare. I do believe the man was gifted, if it was him who wrote these things in the first place. I do know there are some people who contend that Shakespeare did not in fact write everything attributed to him. I don’t know enough about the whole situation to say one way or the other, but it certainly is plausible. People have been stealing other people’s work since the dawn of time, pretty much.
So we all know what happens in this story. Two loser teenagers meet each other at a party, but their families are having a feud. You might better be able to equate this with the Hatfields and Mccoys rather than Shakespeare. I do believe there was actually something of a Romeo and Juliet situation in that whole feud, but I’ve forgotten exactly how it went. If you’re not familiar with what a feud is, I will tell you. Two groups of people decide to hate each other for some small reason. They often forget what the reason is while they are fighting and will defend this feud unto death. I actually recently watched a show about modern-day gypsies in the UK who still have feuds going on. They stage fights and people go to jail. Most of the time nobody is hurt too badly.
So these two loser teenagers meet at this party. They both have people they like before this party. Romeo is all, “Oh Rosaline, you’re such hot stuff, why won’t you look my way,” It actually reminds me of Rocko and Melba in the show Rocko’s Modern Life. I couldn’t find a Youtube video of this so you’ll just have to imagine. I couldn’t even find a picture of Rocko being all lovesick over Melba. Why wasn’t the internet more prevalent in those days? Oh well. Then we have Juliet who is promised to a man named Paris. Basically from what I can tell Paris is a pedophile. Juliet’s parents are kind of like, “I don’t know she’s so young. She’s only fourteen,” and Paris is all like, “Well, girls younger than her have been knocked up.” That pretty much settles the argument right there.
So they meet at this party and they instantly go gah-gah over each other. “Oh Romeo you’re the most awesome thing ever. It’s a good thing I’m imagining Leonardo DiCaprio in my head.” They make a plan to get married. Remember Juliet is fourteen, and stupid. Remember Romeo is also a teenager, and stupid. So they make this plan. They go to Friar Lawrence, I don’t think I spelled that right, and he marries them right up. No questions asked. There are no consent forms from parents. There are no legalities to worry about. This friar just marries two stupid teenagers without even thinking of repercussions. Nevermind, that this whole thing is set during a time when your children are your pawns. The more kids you have to marry to more wealthy families, the better off you are. Kids didn’t pick who they got to marry. I always find it interesting that in societies where arranged marriage is practiced, or was practiced, there was always a certain degree of infidelity that was just expected.
Romeo and Juliet are married for all of twenty minutes, well maybe more, when stuff starts to happen, bad stuff. Romeo gets in a fight. Tybalt kills Mercutio, who is Romeo’s friend, then Romeo kills Tybalt who is Juliet’s cousin. Needless to say, this doesn’t do a lot to help the ongoing feud. The prince, whoever that is, finds out and decrees that Romeo must be banished. Plans are made for Juliet to marry Paris, oh yeah that’s right, bigamy. Juliet is like, “No, I’m already married, I’ve been married for three hours, it’s not like this marriage could be annulled or anything.” So the nurse, the friar, and maybe a few other people, help Juliet and Romeo have sex. Then Romeo sneaks out the window when Juliet’s mom comes in her bedroom to tell her that she is going to be married of like a goat being sold at the auction in just a couple of days.
This causes a bunch of crazy planning to ensue. Romeo goes to Mantua and Juliet finds some sleeping potion that will make her appear as dead, must have been Ambien. So Juliet takes this potion and everybody thinks she is dead. Romeo comes back and also thinks she is dead because there were some wires crossed. He kills himself with some poison. Juliet wakes up and stabs herself with a knife. What a stupid teenager thing to do. After this, the two families make up with a scene that belongs in a corny Hallmark movie.
What I liked: I like that Romeo and Juliet is a fairly short piece.
What I didn’t like: Let me explain something, teenagers are stupid. I’ve said it before and I will say it many more times. It’s not that I hate teenagers, because I don’t, it’s a scientific fact. Teenager brains aren’t developed enough to handle all the things going on with their bodies and their world at the same time. Because of this fact, teenagers do really stupid things. The part of their brain that says, “Hey this is probably a stupid idea. If you try to catapult yourself with this homemade device you’re just going to end up in a neck brace for six weeks,” doesn’t work yet, or rather, it doesn’t work fully. That’s exactly how Shakespeare, or whomever, came to write this tragedy about teenagers. See, teenagers were stupid, even back then. People have known this for a long time. If Shakespeare had written this about two thirty-somethings he wouldn’t have gotten the same amount of praise for this story. People would be obliged to feel sorry for two idiot teenagers who committed suicide over puppy love.
I don’t find Romeo and Juliet particularly romantic. It’s a story that has existed a long time. It existed way before Shakespeare ever put a quill to a piece of parchment. Romeo and Juliet stories are played out throughout the world constantly. The area where I grew up had its own Romeo and Juliet story, but it was about Sautee and Nacoochee. They both jumped off of Mount Yonah when their feuding tribes said they couldn’t be together. Does that sound familiar? I believe it does. They were supposedly buried in the Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound.
It’s not romantic. It’s stupid. I read this and I thought, “What a couple of idiots.” You don’t know anything when you’re fourteen years old. Everyone is stupid at fourteen, everyone. I was stupid when I was fourteen, you were stupid when you were fourteen. I look back every year of my life and think, “Boy, I sure was stupid last year.” When I look all the way back to age fourteen I think, “Whoa, I was really stupid back then.” Seriously, it’s not like you can’t find another man to marry. In fact, Juliet had another guy offering to marry her right there. From how the women in the story talked, he was actually kind of a catch. Sure, I guess it would be sad if your boyfriend committed suicide, but you have to move on, that doesn’t mean you jump off of a bridge after him. If he’s sissy enough to kill himself over something so trivial, then you probably didn’t need him anyway. What would’ve have happened if you had married him, had five kids, and then he lost his job? Where would you be? If he was going to pieces over being banished and then being hasty about things, where would you be with those five kids several years down the line? Think about it. You would probably be out in the gutter because Romeo had a nervous breakdown and jumped off a bridge leaving you with five kids to feed all by yourself.
Romeo was not this noble man to fight for and pine over. Juliet was a spoiled teenage girl, who was probably used to getting her way in everything. I guess they deserved each other.
I am not into reading plays or prose. I’ve actually tried to read the Illiad and I’ve never gotten very far. I am so glad it is not the fashion to write in prose these days.