The start of the play opens with Romeo’s (son of Lord Montague) desperate adoration for Rosaline. An infatuated and hormonal teenage boy, he plays the part of the Petrarchan lover in his unrequited lust yet when he encounters Juliet – daughter to Lord Capulet – he is enchanted and impulsive. Their forbidden love blossoms and soon they are engaged – despite Juliet’s prior arrangement to marry Paris – and are married in secret by Friar Lawrence. However, Romeo is later banished from Verona after killing Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, in avenging his friend, Benvolio,’s death; and Juliet is to marry Paris the next day. A plan is hatched and with the aid of fatherly-figure, Friar Lawrence, Juliet takes a potion to appear dead on the morn of her wedding to Paris and is smuggled to the Capulet tomb; news of this scheme, however, never reached Romeo who rushed to his wife’s death bed with poison and committed suicide beside her. Moments later Juliet awakes to find her true love’s corpse with her and passionately kisses his poison-soaked lips before thrusting a dagger through her heart in order to join him. Taught through the tragic deaths of their children, the Montagues and Capulets end the feud between their rival houses and thus complete the foreshadowed sonnet at the beginning: “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; whose misadventured piteous overthrows, do with their death bury their parents’ strife.”
Set against a historical, Shakespearean background; the historical context of the play outlines the beliefs of love, lust, fate and death. Set in a religious period, with Catholic beliefs, the suicide of Romeo and Juliet compelled them to ‘damnation’ and mortal sin. The plot is also believed to have derived from an earlier Italian true story in the 3rd Century, reflecting the Catholic background.
Written in Shakespearean prose, the play pieces together the thoughts and actions of each character as they strive towards their ultimate goal - whether towards love or death with sonnets interwoven throughout the play.
The most beloved love tragedy of all time, Shakespeare’s captivating, tragic love story is entangled with death and hatred; the tale of forbidden love between two houses – the Capulets and Montagues – ending in morbid consequences. It truly entices the heart of the reader as they empathize with the protagonists’ universal, unconditional and ideal romance, the portrayal of perfect, undying love that is captured and protected with youth.
Did you read this book too? Got an opinion on it? Share it!