Saturday, January 11, 2014

Romeo & Juliet...Again

Romeo and JulietRomeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every year I begin our study of Romeo & Juliet with a discussion of what makes a good love story. Then students come up with their best examples of love stories - their answers are occasionally classic but usually shout outs to the most dominant examples of love in their young lives - Disney princess stories, Titanic (seriously -this is theirs. I didn't add it though my freshmen self would have absolutely said this), The Notebook, Up. And then I have students ask parents and adults whether they think Romeo & Juliet is romantic, and the students return with a pretty solid split of opinions.

So this year, all through the book I thought about whether I think Romeo & Juliet is romantic...because I love this play, but I realized this year that it's not the overall love story that makes me love it. It's the language, the way the characters live the passions and their days with an unbelievable "all or nothing" attitude, and yes -there is love and descriptions of love that only Shakespeare could create. But the love I have for the "greatest love story of all time" comes from adaptations of it - Baz Luhrmann's party scene and that perfect first kiss or the Romeo & Juliet performance in the final moments of Shakespeare in Love. So no, Romeo & Juliet is not a good love story - not for the reasons I think make up a good love story, but it is a great story and I am already looking forwards to teaching this unit next year.

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