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 local noble, Count Paris.

Romeo, scion of the Montagues, is depressed because he has been jilted by his would-be lover Rosaline (whom we never meet). His cousin Benvolio and friend Mercutio convince him to crash a party (enter it without an invitation) at the Capulets', where he falls in love with old Capulet's young daughter Juliet--not knowing who she is.

After learning 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 by a family friend, Friar Laurence, the next day.

Juliet's cousin Tybalt, who had seen Romeo at the party, then challenges him to a duel, but, now considering to be Tybalt family, Romeo refuses to fight him. But Romeo's friend Mercutio takes up the challenge, and is killed in the fight. In grief and guilt, Romeo kills Tybalt, for which Count Paris 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 drinks what's left of her poison and, 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