Romeo & Juliet: William Shakespeare

What greater punishment is there than life when you’ve lost everything that made it worth living? -William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

I, and it seems everyone else who went to high school in the United States, remember being forced to read “the greatest play ever written”, Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet”. This play has spawned countless movies (as well as the late-teen careers of Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio) but as wonderful as everyone keeps insisting that it is, it is too often forgotten that “Romeo & Juliet” is a tragedy. Yes, a tragedy, not a romance. Because there is nothing romantic about teen infatuation leading to a string of familial homicides and inadvertent double suicide. A relationship that grows on a foundation of secrets and lies can only bloom misery. And the only kernel of wisdom to be found in the whole mess is that life can often be cruel when one feels that the have nothing to live for. However, unlike the titular characters, losing someone you love is not enough of a reason to cut your own life short.

Sometimes I wonder why anyone would think that subjecting hormonal teenagers to this is wise, let alone necessary….

4 thoughts on “Romeo & Juliet: William Shakespeare

  1. I think I’m one of the few people who have read every one of Shakespeare’s plays, and I’ll be honest, “Romeo and Juliette” is not my favorite. It is actually only in modern times that this play has become so popular (fun fact, during the Victorian era “King John” was one of the most performed plays, though no one reads it now). My guess as to why this play is on every high school list is because you don’t need to know background information to get it. Two families who don’t like each other, two kids who fall in love, and there’s the play! Try reading Henry IV without background on the succession rights of England, and you’ll have quite a few confused 10th graders.

    • I’ve also read all of Shakespeare’s works! Yay! That said, there are a few other plays (“The Taming of the Shrew” for instance, which has been adapted to the film “10 Things I Hate About You”) that are far, far less tragic and little to no background information is needed. “Hamlet” and “Othello”, with pretty powerful lessons about the wrongs of plots for revenge and jealousy, are far more education, in my opinion. I just don’t see the good in teenagers reading about teenagers who commit suicide.

  2. Could you tell me where in the play I can find this quote? Or is this said by Shakespeare in reference to it?

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