Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Word on Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

If you know me personally... I'm sure you read the title of the post and rolled your eyes. I am an English major and so I've read my fair share of Shakespeare. I love pretty much everything I've ever read that The Bard penned. (Except the Histories... not a fan) However, I have a love hate relationship with Romeo and Juliet, and like I said, if you know me personally you are very much aware of why I have such an attitude toward the play. I will try to give you the sparksnotes version without standing too tall on my soapbox.

Why Romeo and Juliet bothers me so much:
When I actually sat down and read Romeo and Juliet for the first time my freshman year of high school, I totally loved it! Mainly because I was one of the 3 people in class who could actually understand it. Then I read it again when I as a senior in high school and started to notice a variety of things that made me think that it really isn't the love story that history has painted it to be. If you really want to know specific examples of why I think this totally feel free to leave a comment below, but if I went into it in this post it would seriously go on for 20 pages. No Joke I've written it before. (in essay form mind you) I adore Romeo and Juliet for what it is: A tragedy brought on by feuding parents who are too blinded by their hate making their own children terrified to tell them that they are in love with a member of the opposing family. The families end their feud only after the unthinkable happens. Now I will tell you what Romeo and Juliet it NOT: It is NOT a romantic story in which two star-crossed lovers give their lives for love. Juliet was 14 people, and the biggest argument I hear is that it was a different time and 14 year olds got married all the time. My response to that is that the original story of Romeo and Juliet is an old Italian story that follows the lovers romantic deaths (no adults in this one) and in that story, Juliet was about 17. Ok... I'm starting to get sudsy. I'll stop. :) But I think you get my point. I love Romeo and Juliet, hate its reputation as Epic Love Story.

Everyone has a story that they don't really like touched. Because I am so very opinionated on this particular play, I look a little harsher on literature that parodys/ borrows the story. It really is impossible for me to think of Romeo as anything but a teenage boy who wants what he can't have and is more in love the idea of being in love than any girl. There are three YA books that I can think of off the top of my head that are solely based on the characters in Romeo and Juliet. They are:

I have read Saving Juliet and Juliet Immortal and they were both good books. I didn't hate them, but especially with Juliet Immortal; I had a hard time actually getting into it because the characters themselves were just too different from the story that they are based on. Saving Juliet wasn't as difficult for me because it was a different character that just stepped into Juliet's shoes. As far as When You Were Mine goes, I haven't really heard anything bad. It's either been really good, or "different." I just don't know if I should pick it up. I know that it is a modern day take on Romeo (Rob) and his relationship with Rosaline. Who is Juliet's cousin in both this book and the original play. I actually am interested in the premise mainly because Rosaline was older than Juliet and was able to see through Romeo's childish advances and so she straight up dissed him. That being said, I'm really interested in seeing how she spins that into a love story. Keeping in mind that I don't really enjoy books that change the characters of Romeo and Juliet I think I might have a really hard time appreciating this book. Have any of you read it? What did you think?

Do any of you have stories that you love and have a hard time reading the books when authors borrow from them?

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