As we all know, Romeo and Juliet is a classic. And when books are classics, you hear a LOT about them in daily life prior to reading it- it’s almost part of our culture. So, to be honest, when I actually began to read it, it was not at all what I was expecting.
I was pleasantly surprised when I finished Act 1. After 15 years of hearing about Romeo and Juliet, I was ready to descend into the depths of hell reading this story. However, while the way Shakespeare crafts his sonnets is at some times confusing, once I got over the language barrier, I liked it. I’ve never really read an entire play before and this is my first time really getting into Shakespeare, and it feels like a breath of fresh air from the usual novels we read in class.
However, the one issue I’ve found with Romeo and Juliet (and this is probably because I’ve never read a play before) is that it’s very difficult to imagine what’s going on in my head. Plays are nothing but dialogue, so combine that with strange language and no descriptors whatsoever, and it’s really hard to imagine the scene in your head.
(I am analyzing Juliet throughout the book).
While Juliet only appeared for a short time, I found her character interesting. The first time we meet her is when her mother praises the man who wishes to marry her, Paris. Getting married is a huge step in a person’s life, yet she seems quite apathetic. On page 39, Act 1 Scene 3, Juliet refers to marriage as “an honor that I dream not of.” She then goes on to say that if her parents truly want her to marry, then she will. This was probably common for the time period, though.
When we meet Juliet again, it is at the masquerade. Romeo approaches her and flirts with her. She immediately spits out metaphors about saints and pilgrims, and how holy saints do not kiss with their lips. Romeo snarkily responds, “Have not saints lips?” (pg. 57 Act 1 Scene 5).
And Juliet, like the good religious girl she is, basically says “you nasty, use those lips for prayer!”
Just from this exchange, the Montagues and Capulets seem very different. The Montagues, judging from Benvolio and Romeo, are more like carefree “bad boys,” while the Capulets seem like religious, put together, and uptight. So, considering Romeo and Juliet are already madly in love after 0.0001 seconds, it should be interesting to see how they interact later on.
Love at First Sight: Is it Shallow?
This was a question I had about love at first sight for years. It is love at first SIGHT, no? So are you falling in love with the way that they look, and is that shallow? In my opinion, love should be much more than just thinking a person is hot. Take this stanza from when Romeo first sees Juliet:
“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight,
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night (pg. 53, Act 1 Scene 5)
When Romeo sees Juliet from across the room, he knows nothing of her personality, status, hobbies, or anything. All he sees is how hot she is, and suddenly he’s in love. For some reason, I thought that they got to know each other more before pledging their life to the other, but I guess I was wrong. Doesn’t this make love at first sight (at least in this case), rather shallow?
Overall, I like Romeo and Juliet so far and I’m interested to see how to love story plays out, as we all know what happens in the end!