The Bard – Romeo & Juliet: 4 out of 5 stars

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“For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

My second favourite Shakespeare play featuring my favourite love story, tragedy and all

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The story is rather extraordinary in that the normal problems faced by young lovers are here so very large. It is not simply that the families of Romeo and Juliet disapprove of the lover’s affection for each other; rather, the Montagues and the Capulets are on opposite sides in a blood feud and are trying to kill each other on the streets of Verona. Every time a member of one of the two families dies in the fight, his relatives demand the blood of his killer. Because of the feud, if Romeo is discovered with Juliet by her family, he will be killed. Once Romeo is banished, the only way that Juliet can avoid being married to someone else is to take a potion that apparently kills her, so that she is buried with the bodies of her slain relatives. In this violent, death-filled world, the movement of the story from love at first sight to the union of the lovers in death seems almost inevitable.

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By now we’ve all read Romeo & Juliet or at the very least, watched a young and handsome Leonardo Dicaprio bare his soul on screen in one of the best Shakespearean adaptations I’ve seen. It is a raw and tragic account of first love and of family power plays. I know this gets a lot of flack because of the romance and the frustrating characters, but the writing in this is so beautiful and poetic, and I can’t help but be drawn in every time I read it.

What I love about Romeo & Juliet is the dynamic between our two young lovers. I know that I am constantly against instalove – and I still am – but what really draws me to these characters and this romance is the undeniable chemistry and love they share in the face of their families hatred. The balance is unparalleled and the contrasting nature makes for an even better read.

I can’t help but applaud the tragic ending as well. It is the perfect representation of this all consuming love that gives these characters motivation to get up every morning and while it would’ve been nice in theory to see everyone live happily ever after, I couldn’t imagine it ending any other way – not every love story is all candy and flowers.

As with all Shakespeare plays, there is a period of time in which I don’t know what is happening (haha), but what I like about his body of work is that from the time you pick up a book, to the time you put it down, your heart and mind have been inextricably changed.

Favourite quotes from Romeo & Juliet:

“Do not swear by the moon, for she changes constantly, then your love would also change.”

“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”

“My only love sprung from my only hate.”

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