O Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?

Or better yet…Screw Romeo.

Allow me to be among the first to say this: I hate Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet, for those who don’t know, is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Most commonly known as the “most tragic love story” ever to have been written, writers try to capture the same timelessness in their own writing as the playwright.

A little bit of a lesser-known history: It isn’t completely Shakespeare’s. He borrowed most of the storyline from a book called The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, written by a man named Arthur Brooke in 1562. Shakespeare did invent smaller characters like Paris in his version to further enhance the plot, but it remains strikingly similar to the first.

As a story, I enjoy it; I think the characters are extremely well-developed, and the twisting storyline is phenomenal. What I don’t like are the interpretations of it… in other words, how everyone is taught to love it.

In my mind, Shakespeare is a comedian. If you read any of his other plays, like Othello, there are more innuendos and fart jokes scrawled throughout the pages than in a middle schooler’s 7-year-old textbook.

Usually, when Romeo and Juliet is taught, we are told to think of it as “a tragic love story of two star-crossed teens who are torn apart only by death blah blah blah.” People love Romeo and Juliet because they love to remember what it’s like to be young and in love. Most of us are all too familiar with the teenage feeling of twists in your tummy when the person you think you’re in love with passes by.

Romeo and Juliet was written to make fun of that.

Throughout the play, Shakespeare uses his favorite language weapon: sarcasm. Just imagine: A drunk 30-something Shakespeare in Olde England, pouncing around his room shrieking and hollering this line: “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Shakespeare knew that everyone adores a good love story; so why not take his most popular plays (tragedies, of course!) and flip it to an un-happy ending?

He wanted to prove how silly it was for the two insanely rich young people, who have gotten everything they have ever wanted in life, who now think they want each other, to loose everything for this ‘love’. AFTER ONLY THREE DAYS.

Rant over.

In case you can’t tell, I am a Shakespeare nut. I love his plays, his sonnets, his everythings. I don’t find him to be the least bit overrated.

But as with anything, I would encourage you to look a little bit deeper than just the surface story. There’s millions upon millions of ways to look at everything, and it’s so much more fun to find what you really think of it than just what you’ve been told.

Don’t take over the world without me.

PS- A 17-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl? Even back then… That’s a little creepy.

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6 thoughts on “O Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?

  1. Haha great post! But I have to point out that a) no story by Shakespeare was completely his- he nicked them all and there’s nothing wrong with that- there didn’t used to be a problem with originality and plagiarism didn’t exist. In fact it was seen as a good thing to copy b) he wasn’t a comedian- you have to read more of his tragedies, they get pretty dark, especially king lear. Also think of how many bodies pile up at the end of Othello- that’s pretty dark too and c) it would have been a boy playing juliet, not a man. Also, try not to take it so literally, it’s the words everyone falls in love with, not the story (although the story’s a pretty old one and most people would have heard it before). As for them falling in love after three days and all the ridiculous elements, that’s because the story begins as a comedy and then twists into a tragedy (the moment that happens is the death of mercucio) which is actually really clever and subversive for it’s day. It’s like having a twist in a modern novel, like in Gone Girl. Shakespeare tricks the audience by playing with comic conventions, before flipping it all on its head and making it a tragedy- it’s ingenious really.
    (sorry for the massive dork out!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m all for a massive dork out! Something that I would like to point out is (SORRY but talking about lit is one of my favorite things, I can’t just NOT rebuttle :)) a) I never said basing it off another book was a bad thing- I’ve actually read key parts of the one it was based on, and hands down Shakespeare’s is better b)Othello is actually my favorite of Shakespeare, but even that has the humor thrown in there- my favorite line being that of the “black sheep tupping your white ewe”. You can’t deny his usage of humor to envelope you in the story more- if someone were to really research backstories and different interperetaions, Shakespeare LOVES his sarcasm/snarky humor c)When I said “a drunk 30-something” I was referring to Shakespeare himself! I understand that a young boy would have played Juliet, because his voice would have been higher.
      I think my entire point of this post was to say to people to not take things literally- part of the beauty of Shakespeare is his ability to use metaphor and plot to mean something else entirely.
      PS- there’s a great (fictional) movie that you might like- it’s called ‘Shakespear In Love’ and it takes many of the elements from Romeo and Juliet into the story. 🙂 Thanks for your comment! I loved your insight.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha (don’t worry, I love rebuttals!) a) fair enough b) yup- I agree, most of Shakespeare’s plays have comic elements- but a lot of his comedies have tragic elements. Shakespeare was a master at blending genres. I’m not saying he wasn’t brilliant at comedy- I’m just saying it wasn’t his sole talent c) haha fair enough, perhaps make that clearer though, cos I’m not sure it comes across that way in the post?
        PS I love Shakespeare in Love- great film!
        Thanks for your reply, it really cleared things up! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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