Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Challenge 2 ~ ” A classic romance.”

romeoandjuliet

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

It’s a common misconception that everyone in England is well-acquainted with the works of Shakespeare (or at least the most popular ones.) Straight away I’m going to break this misconception – I am British, live in Britain and was schooled in the British education system, and yet I had never read Romeo and Juliet until this autumn. Don’t get me wrong, Shakespeare is prolific in our curriculums, but I spent the entire seven years of secondary school being taught (and re-taught) Macbeth.

Despite not having read it, I was hardly ignorant of the story – it is, after all, a classic. What I discovered through reading it, however, is that there is so much to the story than you ever hear in any summary. The Friar is rarely mentioned, and yet he has a crucial role in the play – along with some fantastic monologues. The play is a clear example of why reading a book is a much better and more rounded experience than just hearing someone else’s account of the storyline.

Romeo and Juliet is so much more than a romance story, and Shakespeare touches on several other themes and ideas, many of which are still applicable in our contemporary society. The problem I found with the age of the book is that it was, at times, difficult to fully comprehend the language, and the message Shakespeare was trying to convey through certain metaphors or imagery. This, however, is more a critique of the British education system than the play itself. My main problem with the novel was how unnecessary and superfluous many of the scenes were – for example, did we really need so many fights between the Capulets and Montagues to reinforce the idea that they were rivals?

Whilst I struggled to understand several levels of the storyline, and had to trudge through several irrelevant scenes, I have no regret from reading Romeo and Juliet. Many of the monologues are clear examples of why Shakespeare is such a treasured writer, and both his thematic exploration and character development would rate highly among today’s best writers. I have never been a fan of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Macbeth, but Romeo and Juliet is a true gem. If you haven’t read it, I definitely encourage you to – even if you think you’ve heard the story, there’s so much more to it.

Recommended for fans of:

  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde
  • Paper Towns by John Green

 

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