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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why I Dislike Romeo and Juliet

About two months ago I did a post describing why I love Gone With the Wind. This time, I'm going to be talking about something I don't like so much.

Romeo and Juliet.

Don't get me wrong, I like the story, I really do and I think Shakespeare is a genius and always will be one, but I have always had a problem with Romeo and Juliet, and as I was flipping through one of my old journals I found a full out rant about exactly why I feel this way, and now I'm going to share some of those reasons with you.

We start the play with Romeo head over heels in love with Rosalie. Rosalie, Rosalie, Rosalie. All he can talk about is how he is, "Out of her favor, and in love." It's depressing and completely superficial, he is not in love, and by what I know of Romeo and his nature she is not the first girl he has been in "love" with.

Romeo is a hopeless romantic who is in love with the idea of love.

The forbidden love aspect and feuding families make for an amazing story premise but the characters just never followed suit with me. If you look at the timeline for Romeo and Juliet it is just insane by how quickly their relationship develops.
(I'm guessing the exact times, the days are what matter.)

Day one, 12:00 pm - Romeo is obsessed with Rosalie.
Day one, 8:00 pm- Romeo sees Juliet and instantly is in love with her.
Day one, 12:00 am - Romeo and Juliet plan to marry the following day.
Day two, 12:00 pm - Romeo kills Tybalt
Day two, 2:00 pm - Juliet doesn't care
Day two, 4:00 pm - Romeo and Juliet get married
Day three, 12:00 am- Juliet's marriage to Paris is planned.
Day four, 12:00 am - Juliet wants to commit suicide.
Day five, 2:00 pm - Juliet and Romeo die.

I'm sorry, but I do not find this romantic. This does not scream the ultimate love story to me, to me this screams insanity and lust. They were kids, I believe Juliet was thirteen at the time and she did not know what love was and it's a great story and I understand that this is classic literature and viewing it almost like a science experiment is not its intention, but I just think that there are so many better examples of true, real, lasting romance in the world.

Lets take Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter for a stroll shall we?

Ron and Hermione's relationship took years to develop yet we all knew it was there, their relationship felt real to the point where we knew it would happen before it did. They were friends first and foremost which led to more which is in itself the most realistic relationship you can find. Harry Potter wasn't about Ron and Hermione's relationship but yet I still definitely cared what happened with them.

I'm not saying that Ron and Hermione's relationship is the ultimate one at all, I just find it to be a really realistic representation of one.

I don't rant about things often and really there are very few pieces of literature that I just don't connect with, but Romeo and Juliet was one of those pieces. I believe that perhaps Shakespeare's intention was not for it to be this love story but maybe to show how the actions of these people can completely change everything. It's a tragedy unlike any other because essentially the parents, the people who should be protecting and loving their children are responsible in part for their ultimate demise.

I believe it is a marvelous play and that Shakespeare is still one of the greatest writers on the planet, but Romeo and Juliet is not great for its love story because its love story seems like it's almost meant to seem artificial. I think he put so much more thought and meaning into it, and I feel like that has gotten lost with the "worlds greatest love story" label found everywhere Romeo and Juliet is these days.

It's just a thought, and I really hope I didn't offend anyone with this because I adore Shakespeare and I even love Romeo and Juliet, it's just the fact it is known for the love story that bothers me when I feel it goes so much deeper than that.

(Please don't sent me hate mail *crosses fingers.*)


danya said...

Yeah, I wouldn't take Romeo & Juliet to be the ultimate love story either. They're infatuated but they know each other for such a short amount of time that it's really ridiculous that they get married so soon (even given the times). That said, I do like a lot of the writing in Romeo & Juliet! But if you want an example of a better Shakespearean relationship, I'd point to Beatrice & Benedict from Much Ado About Nothing.

Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said...

I totally agree! I remember reading it in school after hearing about the story for so many years, and thinking "wait... this is it? THIS is not true love!" ha, and now now I just said 'true love' in my head Princess Bride style.

Michelle said...

Great points! I agree. :) We're kind of obsessed with this all encompassing love that happens almost instantaneously when in reality that could not be farther from the truth not to mention it doesn't sound healthy either. Love takes time, a lot of time. And I don't know if I'd ever want to be so in love that I'd kill someone over it lol. That's a little much in my opinion. ;)

@lex said...

It's just a thought, but maybe the love story is between Juliet and her parents. Obviously it is a different kind of love though. I just found that her parents really loved her. The whole reason they set her up with Paris is so that she will be taken care of. Her father seems especially caring.
I know this is probably really far-fetched, but that's alright. ;)

anjohnston said...

I think it's a love story abridged for the stage. I'm on the fence about this. You make some great points but I remember being in love (or even arguably, lust) for the first time. It's a head over heels feeling. And I get why they rushed into the whole marriage thing too for two reasons:

1) Back in the day that's what you did, sometimes you did it because your parents made you but if you wanted any physical contact or a relationship, your butt was getting married.
2) When they are married, their parents will be pissed but then what? They couldn't exactly take it back.

Basically, the marriage thing boils down to this: you were gonna have to marry someone you really didn't know according to your parent's choosing. Why not pick your own?

It's not the greatest argument and it's the cliffnotes version but it's how I feel about it.

I consider Romeo and Juliet a love story but I can definitely understand why you wouldn't. Thanks for sharing!

Lori said...

This is a great post, Christina!! I agree with you 100%

Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

Totally agree with you. I hate how it's marketed as "the world's greatest love story."

I actually had one professor last semester who threw out an interesting idea. His theory is that Romeo & Juliet shouldn't be considered a drama, but a satire. He thought that Shakespeare was poking fun at the whole young-love-fall-head-over-heels-in-love-in-just-a-few-days problem. Apparently it existed back then, as well as today. Something interesting to think about, if nothing else!

Great post!

brandileigh2003 said...

I would much rather have R and H relationship than R and J.

Jan von Harz said...

Although I do understand what you are saying about the timeline in the play, I think there is more to be concerned with than the quickness of these two star crossed lovers. The fact that they could completely overlooked the feud is one, that love in and of itself is enough to overcome years of hatred for me this is what makes me love this love story and that because of the hatred these two died makes me see how very wrong hate of any kind is.

For me Romeo and Juliet are symbolic that our world is too stuck in not loving that pure innocent love is unable to survive. I think that is why they call it a tragedy.

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