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Saturday, February 08, 2014

You’re Reading Romeo & Juliet Wrong. You’re Supposed to Hate Romeo

Geekosystem: Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet is a classic love story, but it’s one that may be misunderstood. It’s not the story of a young couple rebelling against their parents. It’s the story of Juliet falling victim to Romeo. It’s a tragedy because of what happens to Juliet, not because their relationship doesn’t work out. We’re supposed to hate Romeo.


Sydney Remson said...

I really enjoyed this article. I think that when the way that Romeo and Juliet is interpreted is changed, the production can be a lot better. I never liked Romeo and Juliet until a couple years ago when I saw a production of it where they approached the first act as a comedy. Normally, I don't connect or sympathize with the characters, but seeing the first act this way made me actually like them. The show was really enjoyable to watch, and at the end, I actually did feel sad for the characters, which isn't usually the case.
This article presented another way of interpreting the piece, in which Romeo is the villain. I found this really interesting, and I think that it would be cool to see a production of Romeo and Juliet where the director approached the script this way.

Adelaide Zhang said...

It's really interesting to see another interpretation of such a classic story, but it only makes sense to try to look at it from a couple of different angles. With only the text of the play, it's extremely difficult to say definitively how Shakespeare actually meant the story to be viewed. You can analyze it as much as you want, and take apart every single little detail, but it's basically impossible to know for sure. This is the case for most classic literature, and the many different viewpoints are what make it so interesting. It can also be frustrating, at times, and people always like to interpret meaning where there isn't necessarily any -- but all we can do is make some educated guesses, after all.

simone.zwaren said...

I did not find this article as interesting as the two who commented before me. I think it is cool to analyze such a classic story in such an unorthadox way, but there is so much blind opinion in this. For example with the line, " Then out saunters Romeo, a little rich boy, whining about love." Well if Romeo was not a rich boy who had fallen in love. There would not really be a story. So really this writer is just complaining about the story and wants a reason to hate one of the main characters. Also the writer got this idea from a comedian, I would not take it too seriously.

Emily Bordelon said...

I'd never considered this when reading or watching "Romeo and Juliet", though it's certainly an interesting perspective. I find a lot of what he says to be a viable stance one could take on the text, but some of it seems extreme or does not follow what I have felt about it. Of course, Romeo is very fickle and "loves" Rosaline at the beginning of the play, and then very quickly turns to Juliet. I can definitely see how someone could interpret the text in a way so that the author's idea could be true. However, i feel that someone would have portrayed this in a production had it been true. Of course I do not believe that a story that takes place over three days and results in the death of about seven people can be considered the "greatest love story ever told", but I do think it is meant to show what can happen if people rush into relationships or that love should not be forbidden by anyone. I can see some validity in the author's claim, but I do not see it becoming a widely accepted theory about the play.

Camille Rohrlich said...

Interesting take on a story we've all heard way too many times. I kinda like this interpretation better than the traditional one, because I've always thought that Romeo was a rash, self-centered idiot. Juliette's pretty silly too, but she's thirteen so she gets a free pass.
Since the morale of the play is basically that you shouldn't rush into love and relationships or everyone will die, Romeo being the bad guy corroborates that conclusion.
Like Sydney, I think it'd be an interesting challenge to work on a production of the play where that interpretation is emphasized. But I wouldn't wanna see it. I really just don't enjoy the play at all.

k clark said...

I like the fact that people are thinking critically about Romeo and Juliet, but I have to point out that the prologue says that they are "A pair of star-cross'd lovers." Shakespeare himself says that they are lovers at the very beginning of the play before any characters are even introduced; and you can't argue with the exact wording of the script when you are interpreting it.
I also don't think that we are supposed to think about the relationship between Romeo and Juliet much anyway. The play is really about the consequences of having family feuds. The audience is supposed to see the tragedy that these two kids had to kill themselves to stay together because of the fighting going on between their families. Paris's whole monologue at the end is talking about how they must never fight again in remembrance of what these kids had to do. Their relationship is irrelevant; and both houses are out of heirs.

AnnaAzizzyRosati said...

I love this interpretation, and the evidence that the article provides makes me think it could really be true! It feels so typical of our culture, and perhaps human nature, to twist this horrific story into something tragically romantic. Something every teenaged girl can hope and dream for! While I do believe in staying true to a playwright's intended meaning, we really have no way of knowing what exactly it was. So, maybe it's not such a bad thing that people have altered the story to fit their desires. At the least, it has kept a great playwright and his play alive through the ages.

Sarah Keller said...

This is an interesting take on Romeo and Juliet, but I disagree with a number of points made in the article. For one, why would audiences hate Romeo for being rich? Most plays at the time were about rich people, and Juliet's family is just as rich, and throws lavish parties all the time. There is no reason to hate Romeo specifically for that, when everyone else in the play is just as wealthy. In addition, Romeo doesn't kill himself because he suddenly realizes that he'll die if he leaves the tomb- he knew that before he ever returned from exile, and made a choice to go back to see the body of the girl he loves anyway. The whole article seems to have a very anti-Romeo bias, which makes it very difficult to make a clear argument. I hate Romeo as a character, but I think that's because I'm reading the play through a 21st century lens, not because the playwright intended for him to be hateful. I think it's almost impossible to say definitively "this is how audiences would have originally interpreted this play" as readers in the 21st century.

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