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A Modern Interpretation Of Romeo And Juliet

1749 words - 7 pages

One factor that distinguishes Romeo and Juliet from Shakespeare’s other works in the absence of a true villain. Critics have suggested that the “villains” of the play are tragic accidents, fate, and impulsiveness. There are several unexplained, tragic coincidences throughout the play. One example is the plague that suddenly came upon Verona, preventing Friar Lawrence’s messenger from reaching Romeo. Also, Capulet just happened to send an illiterate messenger to invite people to his party, and the servant just happened to ask Romeo for help. The impulsiveness of Friar Lawrence causes Romeo and Juliet’s deaths because he did not contemplate possible results. The Nurse is very impulsive as she switches her loyalty between Paris and Romeo (Cardullo 60).
One frequently occurring image throughout the play is that of stars. Throughout history, stars have represented fate, and the Elizabethan audience would have accepted astrology as a valid science. Even before the play’s action starts, the Chorus refers to Romeo and Juliet as “star-cross’d lovers.” Romeo says that he senses a danger “yet hanging in the stars” before he enters the Capulet ball. He also says that he believes that he will suffer an untimely death as a result of the events of the party. When he learns of Juliet’s “death”, he exclaims “Then I defy you stars!” (Draper 113-116) Everything seems to conspire against Romeo and Juliet, and fate and time are to blame.
The nature of love is debated subtly throughout the play. Shakespeare portrays love as an all-powerful force, though its true nature is unknowable. Differing perspectives occur throughout the play. The Nurse and Mercutio view love as merely physical, while Romeo and Juliet’s view are very idealistic and romantic (Laroque 87-93). Western culture today regards desire as an indication of a person’s identity, for both men and women. During the Elizabethan era, however, a woman’s desire was not considered important in marriage (Paster 253). Illegal marriages were very scandalous, so Juliet is very careful in her response to Romeo’s courtship. She speaks like an adult, asking him if “thy purpose {is} marriage” because she is afraid that Romeo “mayst think my ‘havior light.” She has to trust Romeo’s integrity and intention because of the awful consequences of the discovery of their marriage.
Throughout the play, references are consistently made to different forms of light. Romeo and Juliet often compare each other to light form, such as when Romeo says “Juliet is the sun” when he sees her on the balcony. They meet and interact only in the darkness, because in the light they could be discovered. They do not refer to each other as soft, casual light, but always intense light forms. In the darkness, the brightness of their chemistry is able to exist without fear of discovery (Spurgeon). They compare each other to light forms because they represent illumination from the compressing darkness of their society.
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