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Why "I am NOT a VOLCANO!"

Why "I am NOT a VOLCANO!"
click the volcano for the due explanation
"In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." — Gordon B. Hinckley
Exaggeration is the spice of life

Book I am Currently Reading: Peter and The Shadow Thief

Monday, January 18, 2010

Romeo and Juliet= TRAGEDY, not romance.

I became an avid reader of Shakespeare at an early age. I was only in 4th grade when my mother gave me my first book of Shakespeare's Sonnets for Valentines day, thus spurring my love affair with poetry of all kinds. (For the record, I highly recommend just about anything by Seamus Heaney.)

Only a few years later, she also gave me the Complete Works of Shakespeare's Plays. I have read many of them, and among my favorites are Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, Twelfth Night (or What You Will), and of course, Romeo and Juliet.

As a pre-teen who happened to be obsessed with boys, and knowing what I knew about Shakespeare (which, at 11 years old, was actually very little) the first play I read in full was Romeo and Juliet.

Ah, forbidden love. And to be with that person that made your heart flutter into your stomach and throat at the same time. To be touched by a lover, and kissed by a boy with breath, sweet, and adoring. How romantic. How cliche. How girly of me.

It did not take me long to realize that Romeo and Juliet was not romantic at all, but that the two of them were particularly stupid in all their dealings and that Romeo was not, as I had previously believed, a heroic, masculine, untethered rogue that represented the perfect man. No, he was, in fact, a coward. I mean, first, he's all infatuated with Rosaline, who rejected him because she wanted be a nun (read: she's only saying that because she sees Romeo as an immature boy, and she only dates college boys) and swears that he will never love another.

And yet, having crashed Juliet's party, upon seeing her, he is in love.

Essentially, we all know the story. They fall in love, they marry, Romeo kills Tybalt, and thus is banished. (Might I add also, that he throws a rather impressive tantrum here, forgetting the oh-so-beautiful and ready for the taking Juliet who sits waiting for him in her bedroom, a bride without a groom.) Juliet, who is in the throes of being forced to marry her father's choice, Paris, (who, by the way, seems to be the most eligible bachelor in all of Verona. Seriously, Juliet, get off the rebellious kick, and take a look. He's hot. He's rich. Romeo's a baby, and you're getting screwed- not in the good Las Vegas way either.) takes an elixir that makes her seem like she's dead. Romeo doesn't get the message, and he runs off to buy poison so he can bravely and admirably kill himself.

Now, what gets me the VERY most, is that Juliet is on the verge of waking when he storms into the family crypt and sees her lying there, all beautiful, with pink lips and cheeks, and warm skin...wait, what? Why would a dead girl have color in her flesh, and heat in her nostrils? Why would a dead girl twitch? BECAUSE SHE'S ALIVE, YOU FOOL, AND YOU ARE IMPRESSIVELY UNOBSERVANT! Anyway, he drinks his poison, dies instantly, and Juliet wakes, surrounded by dead things, and a dead boy who drove her to the brink of insanity. Of course, he drank every drop of the poison, which apparently is a quick painless death, and she has to use his dagger to kill herself by shoving it through her ribcage, and into her heart. Mmmm hmmm. Sounds like a good time, bleeding to death on your own burial shroud, just glad that you didn't die a virgin (because at this point, that's all she's got going for her.) THIS, my friends, is why people shouldn't get married when they're 13.

All in all, I think Romeo jumped too far, too fast, and had severe discipline problems, while Juliet (not any smarter by any means) got the short end of the stick in every way possible.

Even at the ripe old age of 11, I knew that there was no sense in ever wanting to find my "Romeo" (No, I was a 'good Mormon girl. I was looking for a Stripling Warrior.)

Which brings us to our next subject.

Taylor Swift.

Darling. She's a cute little thing, with big talent, and a sweet voice. I like her a lot.

Unfortunately, I don't think she ever read Romeo and Juliet. If she had, she would know that Romeo does NOT talk to Juliet's father (nor does she wear a white dress, because that is quite a contemporary practice- but that's irrelevant) they get married in SECRET, and then they DIE. (Listen: "Love Story" by Taylor Swift)

If you are in LOVE with someone, why not compare your love to Cyrano de Bergerac (Now there's a guy with a silver tongue!) or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy from the classic, and romantically satisfying Pride and Prejudice.

My point is that if you want a romance to survive, you should never ever compare your love to Romeo and Juliet. They killed themselves, for heaven sake. Romeo and Juliet is not a love story. It's a tragedy.


Anonymous said...

Well said! Thanks for stopping by to visit- do take a moment to read the essay on Indie Ink, too, if you have time.

Jamie said...

Totally agree with everything you say here, but I'm curious: What's your take on the play? Is it just a warning to stupid teenagers? Are Romeo and Juliet really star-crossed lovers, doomed by forces they can't control, or could they have had a happily-ever-after ending?

I haven't really thought about this play since I read in ...8th grade, I think? Maybe it was 7th. I think I need to read it again!

Richele said...

I must say I've always wondered why Romeo and Juliet are often used to protray romance. I could have a lot to say on this but I will just say I agree with you. I'm not sure what is so romantic about suicide and loving another person more than your creator. Oh well...such is life. I wonder how Shakespeare would view the perception of his work?

esianoyam3 said...

I think it's because the names "Romeo" & "Juliet" sound so poetic in and of themselves. The line "Marry me, Juliet" (from the Taylor Swift song) just flows so well from a songwriting standpoint.

Not that I don't agree with you - I've always thought Romeo and Juliet (esp. Romeo) were pretty foolish. I prefer Beatrice and Benedick. :) And Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy are two of my very favorite literary characters!

I'm NOT a VOLCANO! said...

Jamie- I actuallly really love the play. It's one of my favorites. I jsut think it's really really misunderstood.

I don't really believe in anything being "star crossed" I don't necessarily doubt that they were in love either- but they were so young. It was a young love. And teenagers are intense.

The thing is, I think that if Romeo had waited a week, his fickle mind would have found someone else, and Juliet could have done a lot worse than Paris.

One other thing, if they really really wanted to be together, I think they could have been. For a long time. When Tybalt finds out that Romeo crashed their party, he wants to confront him, but Juliet's father stops him, partially because they had already been warned that there would be a death sentance for anyone who disrupted the peace,but he also says, essentially, that he has heard that Romeo's a good boy, and that he's not like his family, and that he didn't cause contention there so to just let it go. THIS, to me, says that if they had just come clean before Romeo went all crazy on Tybalt's butt for killing Mercucio, then they could have possibly talked Juliet's dad into letting them stay together.

Another thing- Juliet says at the beginning "Be but sworn my love and I'll no longer be a Capulet." What ever happened to THAT plan? They didn't ever actually try to run away together. And, really, playing the devil's advocate here, wouldn't it be a certain triumph for Romeo's family if they won the Capulet's daughter's loyalty? They didnt' try that route either.

Yes, I think they could have had a happy ending. No, I don't think they were 'star crossed.' BUT, I do believe that maybe Shakespeare himself thought so. (From what I understand there is a sculpture in Verona that is tribute to Romeo and Juliet, and his play is based off of that. It's supposed to be somewhat of a true story.)

And I think that the point of the story is much more than true love, or being meant for each other. The point is forgiveness. If forgiveness had been employed at any time in the past or present of the play, all of this would have resolved itself, and there would have been no tragedy. There's no point in perpetuating hate. And in the end, their parents shook hands over Romeo and Juliet's graves and made amends in honor of their children. THAT is the point of Romeo and Juliet.

Anonymous said...

Just now reading your blog...loving it!!
great photos too!
off to read more!

Jamie said...

Interesting take, Brae. I definitely need to read this play again. The tragedy plays are always a little bit frustrating because they can so SO easily be avoided if people would just TALK to each other. Though it is always easier to point out what other people are doing wrong with their lives than to it is to see what changes you need to make with yours.

Andrea (ace1028) said...

Stopping by from MBC! I tried to comment in your most recent post but it was hanging. Good luck w. your book club. :) I'm a fan of Romeo and Juliet, and I DO think it's a love story, although maybe not the kind Taylor is singing about, but hey, she's still learning, right?

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