Monday, July 29, 2013

Everything You Know is Wrong: Romeo and Juliet Edition

Not that Anne Hathaway, idiot.
Let me explain to you a thing about "Romeo and Juliet" (affectionately referred to as RomJule throughout this post), the one play that is universally known as being a Shakespeare creation. Kind of. First off, Romeo and Juliet is indeed a tragedy. That is how Shakespeare classified the work. Shakespeare also wrote it for the Duchess of Cambridge "his true love" because he wasn't able to divorce his wife, Anne Hathaway, to get with her. So, just as a side note to my friends who have read Romeo and Juliet, imagine Shakespeare as Romeo. Blech. Shakespeare's answer to his love for the Duchess was a play in which a 13 year old and a 15 year old fall in love, cause general mayhem, and then, because Romeo is too stupid to check for a damn pulse, die.

Now even though the concept of everyone important ending up dead is a pretty easy one to grasp, people still seem to mess up when referencing the play in accordance to well - everything. But mostly their love life. What I really hate is when girls claim they are "looking for my Romeo" or say "he's the Romeo to my Juliet". Really? Really. Would you get married behind your parents back to a boy you have only known for 24 hours? Let's not forget the whole "let's profess our undying love for each other" scene happened the same night that they met at a party Romeo got ejected from, because like the little ass that he was, he showed up at a Capulet party with all of his Montague buddies. Anyways, after marrying this random guy off the street, would you participate in a fake suicide plan to be with him but then later commit suicide because of his idiocy? Would you kill yourself after three days because you love him so much? If not, you two are DEFINITELY not comparable to RomJule.

And since we're on the topic of the professing love scene - also known as the famous "balcony scene" let's talk about the fact that a disturbingly large amount of people think that the phrase "wherefore art thou
Hello, my name is Zac E-I mean Romeo and I'm your stalker.
Romeo" means "where are you, Romeo". First of all, no. It does not. Juliet is actually asking why he has to be named Romeo, and furthermore, why he has to be a Montague, which makes sense because their families are feuding, and "where are you" doesn't fit in the context of the rest of the line, or the scene. Juliet, not knowing that Romeo is sitting in her garden like the little creeper he is, is lamenting over his last name being Montague, and how many problems that could cause, because as seen in the beginning of the play, these two families hate each other so much that they basically riot against each other and almost get banished from Verona. And why would Juliet be seeking Romeo out? I mean honestly? I sit on my balcony and muse about hot guys all the time, but I don't expect them to magically show up, because that would be weird. Asking where Romeo is would imply that Juliet expected him to show up, and she did not. Romeo is just a creeper, and also not who everyone thinks he is.

WHAT?!? Did I just rock your world a little? Well hold on to your pants, kids, because I'm about to rock it some more. The majority of people like to think that Romeo is a hopeless romantic and harbors this unquenchable thirst for Juliet's love. To that I say no. Also, I say, read a book. In the beginning of the show Romeo is moping around because another Capulet, by the name of Rosaline, won't give him the time of day because hello, he's a Montague and also, she probably doesn't know he exists, considering Romeo has never actually seen Rosaline. In fact, he crashes the Capulet party to see Rosaline, but gets distracted by Juliet. Everyone wants a Romeo because they think he's this wonderfully romantic guy who will do anything for love, when in reality, he's incredibly needy, petulant, and not to mention an asshole.

But will anyone ever remember the asshole part? No. Why? Because of a.) ignorance and the lack of thorough examination when taught and b.) pop culture, such as TSwifty's song "Love Story" which has Romeo not only approaching Sir Capulet but asking for his daughter's hand in marriage (pretty ballsy for a 15 year old) and then asking Juliet to go pick out a white dress. Although, technically they have sex before they are married so maybe an off-white dress instead? Or she could wear a red one that they dye with the blood of the her cousin who Romeo killed in a pointless dispute. And then of course there is DiCaprio's portrayal of Romeo, which, while amazing, does very little justice to the original work and perpetuates the idea that Romeo is a hopeless romantic who loves Juliet and only Juliet when in reality he probably would have gotten over her in a few weeks once being with her proved too difficult, or someone prettier came along.

But of course that couldn't happen in Shakespeare's RomJule because RomJule is super cliche and the cliche doesn't take that direction, now does it? Now if you're shaking your head because you disagree with the fact that RomJule is cliche, then kudos. You're right. However, once upon a time in my AP English class, there was a boy who thought that not only was Shakespeare a piss poor writer, but also that RomJule was too cliche for his taste. Yes. An 18 year old high school senior criticized William Shakespeare. First of all child, Shakespeare was a fabulous writer whose work will live on for many more years to come. He had to have been a great writer because the staging of his shows were actually quite low in quality. Also, RomJule is not cliche, because RomJule basically created the whole "star-crossed lovers" trope. In fact the term "star-crossed lovers" comes from "Romeo and Juliet"!

And that theme of forbidden love is the reason that "Romeo and Juliet" continues to live on in ninth grade classrooms everywhere. Because ninth graders feel they can relate to that, and also, they are so used to it now, from reading series like Twilight that its good to know how that whole theme really got popular. If you've read Romeo and Juliet, kudos! If you understood it, have a gold freaking star and a license to quote it at will. But for the rest of you, for the love of all that is good and holy, please read "Romeo and Juliet" before you run around carelessly quoting it, because if I get another text message that asks "wherefore art thou?" I'm going to have an existential crisis.

Alexis Olmstead is an English Major and self proclaimed literature snob. For some reason unbeknownst to God or man her mother let her read RomJule in the third grade. She has read it six times since then, just to make sure she still understands it. Alexis lives with two cats, both of them hate listening to her ramble. That is why Alexis blogs. Everything You Know is Wrong is going to become a regular occurrence on "Alexis, Unwritten" so for more useless knowledge check back often. 


Maria - said...

Congratulations. You have put everything I have been ranting about to my annoyed friends and family members into a nicely worded blog entry. Kudos. Romeo is an asshole. The 'love' was just glorified lust. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.. The first person who understands my thoughts on Romeo and Juliet... A shit love story that was Not actually a love story but actually a lust story

gaylasaurs said...

The fact that these individuals cared so much for each other that they defied their parents and what was thought of as acceptable, is what makes this story so raw and absolutely beautiful in every way. Plus, the amazing use of language on Mr William Shakespeare's part is incredible and surpasses the dribble in today's modern literature by miles. It is the greatest love story ever written,

Sincerely, everyone who understood it.

P.S. Nowhere does it specify Romeo's age.

♥ Alexis said...

Gaylasaurs, I'll start with small potatoes and work up, but I'll ask that you remain respectful when debating with me. Like all literature, the meaning of Romeo and Juliet will be different to everyone. There are some specific facts about the book however, that are in the text. I love Shakespeare and have lived my life practically worshipping him and his work. So, a lively debate will be fun.

Not all modern literature is dribble. In fact, most things written from the 1900's to now is counted as "modern literature". There are loads of modern classics. If you want some recommendations, let me know!

Romeo and Juliet is commonly taught as a love story. While many see the relationship between the two as romantic and "the greatest love story ever told", Shakespeare himself classified the work as a tragedy, which I mention in my post.

You are correct in saying that Romeo's age is never mentioned. And while I said that he was 15, Shakespeare actually makes a point to note that Romeo is older than Juliet. However, through historical as well as textual evidence, we can deduce that Romeo is older then 13, yet younger than 18.

Thank you for reading my blog, I appreciate any and all critiques.

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