There is no doubt that everyone has heard the name of the man who was gifted by God, and is credited with creating much of the English language we know today. If you haven’t already guessed, the name of the glorious man is William Shakespeare. Many people have written dramas and plays, so what sets Shakespeare apart from them? There must be a reason is to why he is so admired, so studied, so loved, so insisted upon by so many educators? The short answer is, he was very good at what he was doing. So good, it’s hard for many to believe he alone had written all the plays that are attributed to him. His profound knowledge on humanity has allowed him to showcase the striking similarities between humans regardless of time. As a result, his pieces are timeless and reminds us the “heights to which humans can aspire to, and the depths to which we can descend when we are overly ambitious.”
One of his most prized pieces, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is certainly a tragic love story worth the read. At a glance, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is the perfect description of a cliché tragic love story, where two adolescents from feuding families fall in love at first sight. Juliet is one half of the ‘star-crossed lovers’ and Tybalt, a foe of the other half of the inseparable couple. Both characters resemble teenagers in the 21st century, in spite of the fact this masterpiece was written in the 16th century. The didactic play takes advantage of the two most universal themes, love and hate, and teaches everyone a valuable lesson. This classic piece of literature has truly embedded its seeds in the English culture, and changed the way we write forever. Therefore, if this play were to not be included in the curriculum, Shakespeare’s words “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” would be true.
Juliet captivates the essence of most teenagers and their lack of freedom. While Juliet seemingly appears to be shy and obedient, she consistently displays inner strength and independence while trying to break free from the shackles cuffed by her parents. Her incapability of having freedom is evident, when her parents are keen on wedding Juliet with Count Paris, a rich and well-connected gentleman. However, whether Juliet is fond of the idea of marrying a complete stranger or not, it isn’t a concern to anyone but her. She lives by a toxic rule that whatever her Father ‘tell thee what,’ (Act 3, Scene 5) she must wholeheartedly obey. Juliet is a significant character within the play displaying the inner thoughts of many teenagers and their desire for freedom of choice. (yells at her under the sun)
Tybalt’s motivation, testosterone mirror those of teenagers raging hormones making them aggressive and hot-headed two attributes Tybalt is best known to have. Tybalt is always in the centre of conflict, igniting many unwanted situations. Granting him the nickname ‘Prince of Cats,’ he earnt from Mercutio that impeccably depicts his behaviour. Always slinking about pouncing anyone who strokes his fur wrong. The gist of this is shown when his uncle the Capulet restrains him from taking any harmful actions upon Romeo, at the scene of the Capulet’s masked ball. Nevertheless, warning him that although he ‘withdraw….this intrusion shall, now seeming sweet, convert to bitt’rest gall.’(Act1, Scene 5). His intrusive nature be the very picture of rebellious teens of the 21st century and this play may just be the thing that may get them to reflect upon their actions if they are unwilling to end up like Tybalt.
Needless to say love is naturally the play’s most dominant theme. Specifically, focusing on romantic love shown by the intense passion sprung between Romeo and Juliet at first sight. In ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ love is a violent, ecstatic, overpowering force that supersedes all other values, loyalties, and emotions. Underlying the motives of countless irrational actions. All starting from Romeo’s fickle love for Rosaline. Leading Romeo and Benvolio to ‘Examine other beauties,’ (Act 1, Scene 1) at the Capulet’s ball. Unravelling the story with Romeo deciding to wed Juliet after knowing her for a couple of hours that of less than a day. Hastily, insisting Friar Lawrence to ‘consent to marry,’ (Act 2, Scene 3) the two ill-fated lovers. Love is a difficult concept to wrap your head around however a very engaging theme especially for teenagers as they are just figuring themselves out and what love is to them.
Hate is another important theme fuelling the story to progress and end with a dreaded sad ending. The theme hate within the story teaches us that no one wins when animosity dominates over all else. The feud between the Montagues and the Capulets held ‘From ancient grudge,’ (Prologue) do not achieve anything meaningful but causing them great grief for contributing to the death of their own bloodline. Death brought the houses together and taught us the lesson to overcome our hate. Making this theme culturally relevant and relatable as conflict surrounds us in everyday life. It can be seen between waring countries, in conversations and even in relationships we build with people every day. For teenagers hate is a strong emotion that they may not be able to control. With many impulsively reacting to the situation unaware of the consequences it may bring. This lesson is one we can all learn from and take with us after reading the staple classic literature.
The use of aesthetic features such as foreshadowing is judiciously used in the prologue. Announcing that Romeo and Juliet are destined, as ‘star-crossed lovers.’ The use of foreshadowing does not only build anticipation within the story but it also creates dramatic irony, increasing suspense and tension for the audience, and ultimately making the emotional catharsis upon the play's resolution that much more content. This teaches teenager a new way to utilise foreshadowing in their own future texts.
The play ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ by William Shakespeare is recommended to teenagers by teachers, as it is a text that many adolescents can relate to and engage in. The love story between teenagers their own age overflows with emotions that teenagers can strongly relate to. Not only does it have an engaging plot but when teenagers are exposed to classic literature pieces such as ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ it expands their knowledge on the English language. This work was certainly not included into the curriculum with no sole purpose and it really shows if you take the time to study the piece.