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Romeo And Juliet

Quick Facts

Him:  Romeo, son of Montague

Her:  Juliet, daughter of Capulet

Setting:  Verona, Italy

 

Background

The main characters are from a pair of warring families, yet fall in love when they meet at a ball in Capulet’s house.  Through a series of intriguing twists and turns, the two star-crossed lovers are ultimately married – only to die through a tragic set of circumstances.

 

Story

 

Shakespeare’s classic play begins with conflict.  Citizens of the fair Italian city of Verona are embroiled in a contentious brawl defending the honor of rival clans (and their employers), the Montagues and Capulets.  The lead male character, Romeo, is quickly shown to be a member of the former.  Though pining for the love of Rosaline, he sneaks into a ball hosted by her uncle, the patriarch of the house of Capulet.  However, when he arrives, he is enchanted by Juliet, the beautiful daughter of his father’s enemy – and catastrophe soon follows.


A string of violent acts leaves Romeo in exile, left to wonder what has become of his hometown from afar – but not without marrying Juliet in a secret ceremony first.  Alas, Capulet, unaware of his daughter’s sacred vows, attempts to marry her off to a fitting suitor.  Not knowing what to do, the young woman ingests a potion to induce a coma, believing she will be able to sneak away to join her husband after two days asleep.

When Romeo hears the news Juliet has “died” from one of his servants, he slips into the crypt where she is buried to ingest a poison, intent on joining her on the other side of death.  After encountering and slaying another foe, he swallows the toxin and dies at her side.  Juliet, rising from her drug-induced slumber, finds her husband dead and stabs herself in the heart with a dagger.  Racked with grief at the loss of their children, the Montagues and Capulets reach a truce to put a stop to the bloodshed for good.

 

Reputation

Arguably the most famous love story of all time, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet  has gone through countless adaptations over the centuries.  It has appeared on stages all over the world during the last four centuries, first leaving its native England to be performed in southern Germany in 1604.

 

As with many of the playwright’s works, this particular story exploded in popularity during the 19th century.  Victorian audiences in the United States and Britain took to the various versions with a distinct appetite for the stunning performances put on by recognized actors and masterful sets created by designers.  When the 20th century arrived, the play took on even greater significance by making its way into movies while maintaining a constant presence on the stage.

 

Though one could ably claim it is another in a long line of tragic love stories that dates back to antiquity, none has maintained the level of public acclaim that  Romeo and Juliet  has.  In many ways, the play became the first romantic tale to reach “blockbuster” status, spawning imitations across the major forms of creative media – music, literature, art and film all have works paying tribute to it in some way.



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