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The Themes And Conflict Within Romeo And Juliet And Gnomeo And Juliet

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The original text of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was written in 1594 by the famed William Shakespeare, which was a story of two households who held an ancient grudge against one another. The play was set in Verona during the Elizabethan Era where two ‘star-crossed’ lovers met only to perish in the end. ‘Gnomeo and Juliet,’ on the other hand, was a retold, movie version of the original text with the exception of all of the characters being gnomes instead of humans. The film was directed by Kelly Asbury in 2011, with the Executive Producer being Elton John. In contrast to the play the film was set in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Verona Street. In both texts the running themes of fate, conflict and, foremostly, love was shown in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ through the characters tragedies and suffering, whereas Kelly Asbury employs the angle of comedy to direct the themes to a younger generation. These three were shown through: the characters foreshadowing of their deaths, conflict through the family feud and lastly the love that is shown between the two protagonists.

Both texts demonstrated the undeniable importance of love and romance as it was the main theme between the two protagonists. In the balcony scene Juliet said, ‘what’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other would smell sweet.’ From this part in the original text it showed Juliet’s love of Romeo even though he is from the oppositional family. This is similarly shown in the film where Juliet states ‘what’s in a gnome as a Red or a Blue,’ comparably showing her love and defiance of the family feud for her love. Another demonstration of love in the original text was through Romeo’s description of her beauty and open expression for how he feels through his remark that Juliet had ‘beauty too rich for use’ and that she is a ‘holy shrine’ and his lips are ‘two blushing pilgrims,’ almost referring his love as a religion. On the contrary the movie shows their love through actions rather than words. This was shown through their first meeting on which they romantically fought over an orchid instead of verbalizing their feelings like in the original text. The love that was portrayed in both texts have clear evidence that the protagonists have deep emotions towards one another but were sometimes expressed differently; through comedy and actions, in the film, rather than Shakespeare’s powerful imagery and expressive language in the play.

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Fate was clearly demonstrated across the film similarly to the original text through the repeated use of foreshadowing and the foretelling of the character’s death. The foreshadowing of Romeo’s death is directly shown before he entered the party when he states that ‘with this night’s revels; and expire the term of a despised life, clos’d in my breast.’ This phrase shows that Romeo is predicting the outcome of his death that will begin that night at the party. Romeo also states that he is set by fate and that the result is unavoidable. Likewise to this, in the film Gnomeo met the statue of William Shakespeare who relates his own story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to the gnomes. He then proceeds to foreshadow the gnome’s death, saying that their love is doomed to end in tragedy, similarly to that of his own writings. In the original text, another example of foreshadowing was the prologue that was read by the chorus. ‘A pair of star-crossed lovers take their lives {life},’ indicated, instantly showing the audience the fate of the two protagonists. In contrast to this, a gnome read the prologue in the movie. Unlike the play, the reader is constantly interrupted by something around him, making him unable to foreshadow their deaths. This technique was to add comedy in the beginning of the film, but to also suggest the characters may live instead of dying, like in the original. Foreshadowing was used in both texts to show and decide the future plotline of the main characters. In the play the foreshadowing was used to create suspense on their deaths, whereas the film used this to deny fate, as well as to present an alternative ending that was more suitable for its audience.

‘Two households, both alike in dignity … from ancient grudge break to new mutiny.’ Beginning right away from the prologue, conflict was evident between and within the two families in both the play and the film. Consistently shown through both texts, Tybalt adds steam to the already running feud between the two houses. In the play, when Romeo is discovered by Tybalt at the feast, he states, ‘by his voice, should be a Montague / Fetch me my Rapier boy,’ clearly showing his intent of attacking the man for his disruption of the Capulet Feast. This was similarly shown in the film where Gnomeo and Benny infiltrate the Red garden and are spotted by some ‘guards.’ When Tybalt notices that Romeo was inside of the Red garden, he seeks him out to try and kill Gnomeo for his actions. Once found, Tybalt lashes out with an intent to kill, similar to the original text. Another form of conflict is shown amongst Juliet and her Nurse when she says, ‘your first is dead; or ‘twere as good he were, As living here, and you no use of him.’ This phrase was to tell Juliet that she should forget about her exiled husband and just marry Paris. This creates a large hatred from Juliet towards the Nurse as she felt as if she had betrayed her trust and her emotions towards her husband. Dissimilar to this, Juliet and Nannette get along as friends with no conflict between them as Gnome is feared dead, not exiled. The large family feud of the two households generated a large conflict built upon smaller feuds within the characters. Internally; Juliet and the Nurse, to externally; Tybalt and Romeo/Gnomeo, show that the feud was fueled by deep hatred for each family’s name.

In conclusion the three themes of love, fate and conflict are represented similarly but with significant differences. Compared to the film, the original text gave a lot more depth and formality into Romeo and Juliet, with small concepts that change and drive the entire plot line. This is from the movie being directed to a younger generation and focusing onto a comedy genre instead of a romantic tragedy. Overall the tale of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ shows off the themes of fate, conflict and foremostly, love and its overarching effect that the story has on the characters and the audience.

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The Themes And Conflict Within Romeo And Juliet And Gnomeo And Juliet. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-themes-and-conflict-within-romeo-and-juliet-and-gnomeo-and-juliet/
“The Themes And Conflict Within Romeo And Juliet And Gnomeo And Juliet.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-themes-and-conflict-within-romeo-and-juliet-and-gnomeo-and-juliet/
The Themes And Conflict Within Romeo And Juliet And Gnomeo And Juliet. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-themes-and-conflict-within-romeo-and-juliet-and-gnomeo-and-juliet/> [Accessed 6 Oct. 2022].
The Themes And Conflict Within Romeo And Juliet And Gnomeo And Juliet [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2022 Oct 6]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-themes-and-conflict-within-romeo-and-juliet-and-gnomeo-and-juliet/
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