Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers. Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to antiquity. The plot is based on an Italian tale translated into verse ...
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers. Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to antiquity. The plot is based on an Italian tale translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562, and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1567. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both, but expanded the plot by developing a number of supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris. Believed to have been written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597. The text of the first quarto version was of poor quality, however, and later editions corrected the text to conform more closely with Shakespeare's original. Shakespeare's use of his poetic dramatic structure (especially effects such as switching between comedy and tragedy to heighten tension, his expansion of minor characters, and his use of sub-plots to embellish the story) has been praised as an early sign of his dramatic skill. The play ascribes different poetic forms to different characters, sometimes changing the form as the character develops. Romeo, for example, grows more adept at the sonnet over the course of the play. Romeo and Juliet has been adapted numerous times for stage, film, musical and opera venues. During the English Restoration, it was revived and heavily revised by William Davenant. David Garrick's 18th-century version also modified several scenes, removing material then considered indecent, and Georg Benda's operatic adaptation omitted much of the action, and added a happy ending. Performances in the 19th century, including Charlotte Cushman's, restored the original text, and focused on greater realism. John Gielgud's 1935 version kept very close to Shakespeare's text, and used Elizabethan costumes and staging to enhance the drama. In the 20th and into the 21st century, the play has been adapted in versions as diverse as George Cukor's 1935 film Romeo and Juliet, Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version Romeo and Juliet, and Baz Luhrmann's 1996 MTV-inspired Romeo + Juliet.
This book is filled with scholarship on Shakespeare and his play Romeo and Juliet. It is not even laid out nicely with the notes on one page and text on another. I had to buy this copy for a class, but would not purchase it again if given the choice.
May 31, 2012
High School Requirement
If you are reading this for school, check out SparkNotes or Cliff's Notes for a translation you can understand. Especially the No Fear Shakespeare on Spark Notes.
Apr 1, 2010
Not one of Shakespeare's more original plays
Romeo and Juliet, despite being one of the most popular of Shakespeare's plays, is neither his most well-written or his most original. It is well known that the story was based on an older one by an Italian writer (who probably got his from another Italian writer), so the fact that it is not terribly original is unsurprising. The writing style, however, is also somewhat lacking; many sections are halting because of the changes in rhyming patterns that Shakespeare decided to use, which makes them harder to read. The characters, especially Romeo, were not very easy to connect with; this will change according to opinion, though, and fans of romance will probably like them better than I. All in all, this play does not have the smooth and interesting feel of Shakespeare's later works, but may still appeal to those who like the "star-crossed lovers" theme.
Feb 15, 2010
Having both read this play, and seen it several times, I can't say that I was impressed. Everything goes exactly wrong; it lacks realism, and, though the language is, well, Shakespearean, the story is not supportive. If you like Shakespeare, you will probably like this work; however, there are much better Shakespearean works that just lack the press that this one has.
Oct 12, 2007
I realize "Romeo and Juliet" are most people's favorite. The story is not as intense as "Macbeth" or "Hamlet". In fact the story is rather dull. It is difficult to care about two characters who are self centered. This soap operish plot is not fun to read.
Alibris, the Alibris logo, and Alibris.com are registered trademarks of Alibris, Inc.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.