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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Elisa

Romeo and Juliet

Setting: 1303 AD Verona, Italy Tragedy

My really abridged plot summary: "In fair Verona, where we lay our scene," the Montague and Capulet families are feuding, and finally the Prince gets involved. Romeo (Montague) tells his cousin Benvolio that he's in love with Rosaline, but she doesn't love him back. Benvolio tells him to move on. Paris (friend to the Prince) is seeking Juliet's (Capulet) hand in marriage, but her parents want to wait a few years because she is so young. The Capulets hold a masquerade ball and Romeo and Benvolio sneak in because he saw Rosaline's name on the guest list. Romeo spots Juliet and instantly forgets about Rosaline (lol) and they dance together and fall in love. Later they discover that they come from feuding families and get upset. Romeo hops a wall to see Juliet and they exchange promises of love. They plan to get married using Friar Lawrence and Juliet's Nurse as accomplices. After they get married, Romeo tries to avoid conflict with (his now cousin) Tybalt on the streets. His friend (and the best character in the play), Mercutio, and Tybalt fight and Mercutio gets stabbed. Tybalt leaves, but comes back and Romeo stabs him. Romeo flees the scene. He is banished and must leave for Mantua (after secretly spending the night with Juliet). After he leaves out the window, the Capulets tell Juliet that she must marry Paris in a few days. She goes to Friar Lawrence for help and he gives her a sleeping potion that will make her appear dead so her and Romeo can run off to Mantua and live happily ever after. The letter outlining the plan for Romeo does not make it in time, and when he hears of Juliet's death he buys poison and goes to her tomb. Paris is grieving outside because it was supposed to be their wedding day, and Romeo stabs him. He drinks the poison and dies right before she wakes up. When she sees Romeo is dead, she desperately stabs herself with his dagger. When the families discover the truth, they agree to end the feud and have statues of their children made for each other.

(I couldn't resist)

My favorite quotes: (Ok here's the thing, the poetry in this play is so good, it was hard to narrow this down)

These violent delights have violent ends.

~Friar Lawrence,

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,

My love as deep; the more I give to thee,

The more I have, for both are infinite.

~Juliet, II.ii

Banishment! Be merciful, say "death"

~Romeo, III.iii


  • Overall Impression: 10- I love this play. I think it deserves all the hype, and I think there is so much more to this play than is often attributed to it. This one is popular for a reason.

  • Use of Language: 10- The poetry in this play is so incredibly beautiful. We also have many shared lines between R+J which is brilliant because it represents how in-sync and in love they are. Knowing how this play ends, makes the read all the more interesting because of the use of foreshadowing. The imagery in this play is amazing.

  • Protagonist Arc: 10- I'm going to argue that Romeo AND Juliet are both protagonists. The way that the play is written, and the use of shared-lines and imagery really adds to this argument. They find their mutual desires freeing and they both defy societal and familial standards at the end. They are two halves of a whole.

  • Female Characters: 10- Juliet is a better written character than Romeo. There. I said it. She is also the first female character of Shakespeare's that is fully emotionally developed. She is young and naive, but her emotional range is groundbreaking. She has so much personality, contrary to the way she is usually (and unfortunately) portrayed. Romeo is a #simp for her.

  • Fits Genre: 7- This is controversial, and let me make this so clear: what happens to R+J is extremely tragic, but this play is not a normal tragedy. If you had no idea how this play ended and you went to see it, at the beginning you would think this is a comedy. The first 2.5 acts are hilarious. We also don't have a traditional tragic set-up in this play or a "tragic hero". We don't have a king falling from grace, which is the first criteria for the original Greek Tragedies. R+J's deaths are in vain. They didn't need to die, but the world they lived in, and the environment their families created for them made them feel like death was the only way to be together. Upon doing some research, I found that this play was actually written as a response to Shakespeare's fellow playwright, Christopher Marlowe. R+J is a direct commentary and satire on Marlowe's Dido, Queen of Carthage. Shakespeare is directly mocking the idea of true and immediate love that Marlowe wrote about. I don't think this play can be considered a #problemplay even though the tone is broad. While it is broad, it is not inconsistent- and I think it is so well written that this is justified.

  • Overall Enjoyment: 10- I'll be honest, for awhile I was hating on this play. I was like "ew. R+J is so basic." but I fell in love with this play all over again, and I have a new-found respect and admiration for it. I laughed and cried a lot. I think it's more effective when you're not 14 years old and reading it.

  • Hype Worthy: 10- I think often times this play gets a bad reputation because it is #basic. I think this play is popular because it is so accessible. There is something in it for everyone: romance, sword fighting, politics, dancing, scandal, and dirty jokes. There are so many stories to be told in this play that I think there is something in it that will speak to everyone in one way or another. This is more than a love story. It's also incredibly well-written. I'm a fan.

  • Emotional Impact: 10- I mean it's hard not to find the ending tragic. It was so avoidable, which is why it's so sad. Parents grieving is one of the saddest things to watch. The comedy in this show is also so incredibly effective.

Total: 77/80 Average: 9 *5 out of 5 stars*

and finally:

Zac Efron or Romeo?

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