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Romeo and Juliet: Is It Really About Love or Not?

Updated on October 30, 2015

Romeo and Juliet has been studied for generations and is considered as one of the best works of the literary genius Shakespeare. With the dramatic twists and turns of the story, it has become a regular point of comparison in topics relating to love and tragedy.

A Short Background

The play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare was based on a tale written by the Italian Arthur Brooke in 1562. Set in Verona, it tells the story of two young lovers named Romeo and Juliet and the difficult circumstances that surrounded their romance. Romeo is a Montague who is suffering from the heartbreak of his unrequited love for Capulet’s niece named Rosaline. He was persuaded by his cousins to sneak into a Capulet ball to search for her, but he ended up meeting Juliet and falling in love with her almost instantly. The two are married secretly the next day, with the friar who took in their vows hoping that the union would somehow bring the two families together. Romeo ends up killing Tybalt, a cousin of Juliet after the latter challenged him to a duel. Juliet was then arranged to be married to Count Paris and as a way out, Juliet drank a drug that was supposed to put her into a deathlike coma. A messenger was sent to Romeo to inform him of the plan, but the messenger failed to reach him on time. Romeo, thinking that Juliet had died, committed suicide. When Juliet awoke from her deep sleep, she instantly killed herself as well the moment she saw her lover’s dead body.

Modern Adaptations

As proof of how Romeo and Juliet’s story affected different cultures, the play has been acted out in countless theaters everywhere in the world. From simple school productions to professional theatrical performances, its story has left a mark in the hearts of many. Aside from the countless plays, it has also been shown in the big screen a number of times. Among the most popular was the modern version shown in 1996, which successfully fused the literary classic with modern-day violence and culture. Different TV shows and films also showed stories that closely relate to Romeo and Juliet’s plot, often changing the era, the characters and some circumstances, but still sticking to the story of two lovers belonging to feuding camps. A particularly interesting version is a real-time exchange of tweets on Twitter, with the Mudlark Production Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company staging “Such Tweet Sorrow” in April and May of 2010. This allowed the audience to be actively involved as well, as tweets were exchanged and retweeted all over social media sites. With all the versions of Romeo and Juliet, there were different reactions as well. Equally receiving good and bad reviews for each adaptation received, it showed how well-versed people are about the story and how everybody has their own expectations of the literary classic.

Why People See It as a Love Story

A lot of people see Romeo and Juliet as the best love story of all time. This is understandable, considering the things that the lovers have gone through to prove their love for each other. For example, the mere fact that they belong to two feuding families is more than enough to send girls swooning. Most of the time, the idea that a couple would go against all odds is seen as the most romantic thing in the world. It gives a whole new meaning to staying together through thick and thin, through hell or high water. Somehow, two people showing that they could survive without everybody else as long as they have each other is seen as an act of loyalty and undying love. Fast forward towards the end of the story and a lot more people see more romance despite the tragedy. Somehow, the thought that Romeo ended his life upon seeing his beloved Juliet lifeless stirs emotions of sadness, seeing how his suicide shows that he would rather die than live without her. The moment Juliet opens her eyes and finds her lover lifeless, she does the exact same thing, adding more emotion to the already tragic turn of events. The thought that two people would choose death over losing a loved one may be scoffed at by some, but it definitely causes a lot of girls to wish for a prince who would do the same thing for them should they be put in the same situation.

Why Other People Don’t Think It’s About Love

Despite what a lot of people think, there are still others who believe that Romeo and Juliet is far from being the romantic story that others perceive it to be. For one thing, the fact that it was so easy for Romeo to forget about Rosaline and immediately proclaim his undying love for Juliet minutes after meeting her shows infatuation, and not love. Love is always seen as a process, and the speed at which Romeo fell in love is not at all realistic. The fact that they immediately decided to get married was also a sign of recklessness, and not of romance. Imagine marrying somebody you only just met! The fact that they were married secretly adds more to the increasing pile of proof. Love is often seen as something that you should be proud of, something that you would declare regardless of the circumstances. The mere thought of the entire affair being a big secret was not romantic. It shows that their love was not something they were truly proud of. They did not plan for the long term, which is something that people who truly love each other do. True love would be something that you would wish to have forever, which is why modern day folks would think about investing not only their emotions, but their time, money and thoughts to make everything as seamless as possible.

Juliet also seems to have forgotten the fact that Romeo killed her cousin. To dismiss something that grave would show a complete disregard of the more important things in life, and somehow shows her as someone who decided to be with Romeo out of rebellion, not out of love. This rebellion has its roots of course, from the thought that Juliet is forbidden to mingle with Romeo because of a family feud, to the fact that she was being forced to marry someone that she did not even like. The suicide pact in the end was not a testimony of love either, but showed how foolish the two of them were to dismiss the value of their life just like that. And the thought that all these happened to a pair of teenagers adds more weight to the argument. People their age do not have the level of experience that it takes to figure out what love truly means and what kind of decisions they should be making to preserve and prove this kind of emotion. What the couple has shown is similar to how Prince Charming rescues damsels in distress. It may be nice to think about it, but would be irrational if it were to happen. Truly, it is easy to heave a sigh of relief to think that this is only a work of fiction, and was set at an older era. To have this happen in real life and in modern times could be considered as a complete waste of lives that could actually count, if only more thought is put into their feelings and actions.

How do you view Romeo and Juliet?

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    Geri MIleff 3 years ago from Czech Republic

    Reckless, indeed, and yet romantic at the same time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    I think reckless yet I felt it was romantic as well, a very interesting hub on the two so called lovers.