Comparing Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare in Love

Comparing Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare in Love

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William Shakespeare has provided some of the most brilliant plays to ever be performed on the stage. He is also the author of numerous sonnets and poems, but he is best known for his plays such as Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Romeo and Juliet. In this essay I would like to discuss the play and movie, "Romeo and Juliet", and also the movie, Shakespeare in Love.

     The play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is set in the fictional city of Verona. Within the city lives two families, The Capulets and the Montegues, who have been feuding for generations. One night there is a celebration held at the house of the Capulet's. At the party the only son of the Montegues, Romeo, and the daughter of the Capulets, Juliet, see each other from across the room. The moment their eyes meet we are supposed to believe that they instantaneously fall in love with each other. Because they are from two warring families their love would most likely be forbidden. Juliet's father has also promised her to his good friend Paris. Because the love between the young couple is so powerful they go to Friar Lawrence and they are secretly married. On the day of their marriage Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, challenges Romeo to a duel. In the midst of all this chaos, Romeo's best friend, Mercutio, is murdered by Tybalt. Romeo then slays Tybalt out of revenge. When the prince of Verona finds out what Romeo has done he banishes Romeo from Verona forever. When the friar hears of this he devises a plan so that the two lovers can be together.

     The major climax of the play comes when the friar gives Juliet a potion that will make it seem as though she has died, when in fact she is alive the whole time. While in Mantua, Romeo mistakenly hears that Juliet has actually died and he goes to lay by her side. Just as he takes a vile of poison and dies Juliet awakens to find her love lying dead at her side. She cannot fathom living in a world without Romeo so she takes his sword and ends her own life.

     The movie version of Romeo and Juliet stars two popular young actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. In some ways it is very much like the original, but at the same time very different.

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One difference is that the movie is set in modern day. But while the movie takes place in the present time, the speech and dialect is that of the original script. The director used the very same script so the actors are speaking the same way that William Shakespeare would have back in the 1500's. This concept is at first strange to see, but I think it is unique and puts a new twist on an old play that has been performed millions of time before. Other than the major difference of having the setting in modern times, I did not think the movie was that fantastic. I didn't like the way that the camera would switch from quick to normal time and I thought all the water imagery was pretty pointless. Also at times the movie was a bit flashy, which I thought was exciting, but I'm not sure if the people of Shakespeare's time would have liked it that way.

     The next version of Romeo and Juliet is the movie "Shakespeare in Love". This movie stars Joseph Finnes as a young William Shakespeare, about the time he was in the process of writing Romeo and Juliet. In the beginning of the movie we see Shakespeare struggling to write because he has a terrible case of writer's block. Then when he can no longer think of a good story line he fears that he has lost his genius. At the same time as this "tragedy" the main theatre in town is in danger of closing and Shakespeare's plays may never be performed there again. One night William goes to a party at the Delessup's house and one woman in particular catches his eye. This is Lady Viola, played by Gwenyth Paltrow, and he falls desperately in love with her at first sight. The two spend many nights together writing and their days rehearsing his newest work of literature, Romeo and Juliet. Lady Viola could be viewed as the dark lady that Shakespeare wrote so many of his sonnets about. This is true because the movie is based loosely on a true story. Following the plot of Romeo and Juliet, William and Viola, are not allowed to be together because she has been promised to a wealthy landowner and then departs for America. The only difference in this version is that neither of the main characters tragically die they are just forced to be torn apart and spend an eternity without each other.

     I thought that this film "Shakespeare in Love" is an excellent movie. I loved how it took the approach of telling the story of Shakespeare's life because it is hardly ever discussed. It is very interesting to know about the mistress who so captivated his imagination and to know what his life and contributions to the theatre have done. It would be interesting if Shakespeare himself could see this movie so we could know that real truth. There is not much information provided about the life and times of William Shakespeare and scholars argue about who the "real" Shakespeare was , but I find both him and his literature extremely fascinating.

     Out of all three pieces that I chose to analyze my favorite would have to be the movie "Shakespeare in Love". I have read the original play and seen both the old and new movie versions of "Romeo and Juliet" numerous times. Although I love the story of Romeo and Juliet I think maybe it has to do with the fact that "Shakespeare in Love" is the newest to me so maybe that is why I liked it best. I thought the acting and the story for the movie was wonderful. The directing, costumes, and scenery were also brilliantly done.

     To get back to my original question about how all three of the works are related, I think the answer is bluntly obvious. All three deal with the same exact plot except for a slight deviance in "Shakespeare in Love". Each one deals with the play Romeo and Juliet whether it is the actual play, the movie version of Romeo and Juliet, or the movie about William Shakespeare's life during the time that wrote Romeo and Juliet. I enjoyed all three versions and I will never tire of hearing them for as long as possible.

     The reason that I will never get bored of hearing this story is because it is a timeless tale of a love versus hate relationship. First there are the families who hate each other and then there are the two star crossed lovers who fall madly in love with each other. The conflicts that arise out of this situation are extremely complex and at the same time so simple. One must first understand the situaiotn and how it would be difficult for a pair of young lovers to not be able to be together because of an argument that is between their two families which they have no control over. I cannot imagine what it would be like to not be able to have a choice to love someone just because my family does not permit it. This play of Romeo and Juliet shows that no matter how powerful something is, such as the ties between family, no one can control feelings. the death of Romeo and Juliet proves this point very dramatically.

     The second question that I had hoped to answer was this: does true love at first sight really exist? For a very long time people have argued over this question. How is one to know if it exists if it has never happened to them personally? How can you say that you love someone when in fact you do no t even know them? This is not the case in the story of Romeo and Juliet and "Shakespeare in Love". In the play, both Romeo and Juliet fall in love with each other as soon as they lay eyes on each other. In the movie "Shakespeare in Love" true love at first sight is felt by both William and Viola, but it is more of an image that Viola falls in love with. She is in love with the mystique that surrounds William Shakespeare , the poet. After she spends more and more time with him she begins to fall in love with the real William but it is not meant to be because she is to marry someone else. The fact that Viola fell in love with a reputation makes me think that the answer to my question would be no. In other words, there is no true love at first sight, but I can't say for sure because it has never happened to me. Also maybe it just depends on the person and whether or not you find the "right" person. This is the main point of both these stories. That both Romeo and Juliet and William and Viola had found the person that was meant to be.

     Hopefully the poems and plays of William Shakespeare will continue to be read for years to come, but sometimes I find that doubtful. It seems that more and more people just don't care abouttheir past anymore because they are too caught up in the fast paced lifestyle of today. It doesn't seem that anyone wants to pick up a normal text book and read, but they would rather turn on their computer and stare at a screen for hours. The children of today also don't even want to know about their past. Maybe I'm weird, but when I was younger I loved learning about Shakespeare and the other writers of his time. It also seems that the only reason they go to see a movie such as "Romeo and Juliet" is not because of the classic love story, but because of the big names in the movie. The media has marketed it's movies towards young teenage girls because they know that they will pay the money to see Leonardo DiCaprio in "Romeo and Juliet". The sad thing is that they are missing the actual point which is to see the wonderful story and I hope that Shakespeare's stories live on for generations to come.

 
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