January 25, 2021

#08-040: Romeo and Juliet

woman being kissed by man, both in elegant clothes, in a box-like balcony
Romeo and Juliet in the famous "balcony scene"

Note: The "stars" of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet are often held up as paradigms of romantic love. But are they really good role-models for young lovers to follow?

Get Ready: Should young people follow the wishes of their parents and society when it comes to love, or does "being in love" allow them to break the rules?

This "story of ... woe" about "Juliet and her Romeo" begins in a fictionalized Verona, Italy, where two families, the Montagues and the Capulets, have lived in enmity for years. At the time of the story, bloodshed has erupted, with younger members of each household brawling in the streets, despite admonitions by a Escalus, Prince of Verona. He announces that further fighting will be punishable by death.

The Prince's relative, Count Paris, approaches the elder Capulet about marrying his young daughter, Juliet. But the old man asks the Count to let her gain a few more years, and invites him to attend a ball planned by the Capulets. Juliet's mother and her nurse try to convince her to marry Paris.

Meanwhile, Romeo, scion of the Montagues, is depressed because he has been jilted by his would-be lover Rosaline (whom we never see). His cousin Benvolio and friend his Mercutio--another kinsman of the Prince--convince Romeo to (enter the Capulets' part without an invitation. There, he sees Juliet and falls in love with her--not knowing who she is. Juliet's cousin Tybalt recognizes Romeo and wants to fight him then and there, but old Capulet stops him; he does not want bloodshed in his house.

After he learns her identity, Romeo sneaks into the Capulets' garden, where he overhears her repeating his name from her balcony: "Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?" ("Wherefore art thou" means "why are you"; she is lamenting that he is the son of her father's enemy.) He reveals himself to her and, with the help of the girl's aged nurse, the couple are secretly married the next day by a family friend, Friar Laurence. The friar is hoping this will bring the two families together.

Juliet's cousin Tybalt now challenges Romeo to a duel, but Romeo now considers Tybalt to be family and refuses to fight him. However, Romeo's friend Mercutio takes up the challenge, and is killed in the fight. In grief and guilt, Romeo kills Tybalt, for which the Prince banishes him from Verona.

In order to escape a marriage to the Count, forced on her by her parents, Juliet--remember, already Romeo's wife--drinks a potion to fake her death. This is part of a plan by the crafty Friar Laurence, who sends a message to Romeo in Mantua to inform him of the plan. The messenger is delayed by a quarantine, so he never gets that message. But Romeo's servant, Balthasar, manages to get through and report Juliet's "death."

Believing Juliet dead, Romeo rushes back to Verona and the Capulet crypt, where he finds Juliet's "corpse" lying. He meets and fights Count Paris at the tomb, killing him. On the way to the cemetery he has bought some poison, and drinks it near her body.  Just as he dies, she awakes to find him there, dead, and stabs herself with his dagger.

The two families, seeing the folly of their ways, agree to end their feud.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_Juliet

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. admonitions
  2. brawling
  3. corpse
  4. crypt
  5. duel
  6. erupted
  7. feud
  8. folly
  9. jilted
  10. would-be

  1. long-running fight, often between families and frequently violent
  2. dead body
  3. warnings
  4. intended; wished-for
  5. fight between two people
  6. broke out
  7. rejected by a lover
  8. room for holding the dead
  9. foolishness
  10. fighting between crowds

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for January 25, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. j; 3. b; 4. h; 5. e; 6. f; 7. a; 8. i; 9. g; 10. d