Romeo and Juliet is a love story that was written during the Elizabethan period, a time when women were seen as men's acquiesces. The period was commonly known as a patriarchal society. It was a period characterized by fathers making decisions on who would marry their daughters and when. During the Elizabethan period, most events were taken seriously and with a lot of traditionalism (Shakespeare 4). The primary source for Romeo and Juliet was Arthur Brooke's poem The Tragicall History of Romeus and Iuliet, which was published in 1562. Also, Shakespeare might have known the typical Romeo and Juliet tale that can be found in William Painter's collection, known as The Palace of Pleasure that was written in the early years that preceded 1580.
Romeo and Juliet Adaptations
The underlying love story of the two lovers who hail from opposing families had been in existence for many years before it was adopted in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet plat. It is among Shakespeare's famous plays which have been adapted into films, music, and theatre for thousands of years, and continues to impact positively in the current society. Right from Taylor Swifts Love Story, to West side story, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has remained relevant to date (Shakespeare 11).
Romeo and Juliet have a large number of themes hence the reason it has remained a timeless love story for it appeals to most of the individual romantic sensibilities. The themes range from teenage romance to forbidden love, feuding families and pure love at first sight. Every individual in every generation can relate to the themes. Consequently, the love story has continued being adapted in known cultures due to its significant impact on both the older and younger generation who are likely to reminisce on this teenage romance tale (Shakespeare 14). The story has been a starting point for most artists who seek to express romance and love using their films, music, or artwork. The adaptations of Romeo and Juliet often change with the aim of maintaining its relevancy with each society's values and beliefs.
West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet Musical Adaptation)
Among the favorite adaptations of Romeo and Juliet is the West Side Story. The play's story is inspired and derived from Romeo and Juliet traditional story and its features very many of the classical themes that are major in Shakespeare's classic. For instance, in Romeo and Juliet, the central conflict lies between the Capulet's and Montague's, similarly, in West Side Story; the war belongs to two conflicting groups; The Sharks and The Jets. In West Side Story, the conflict is seen as a fight between the Puerto Ricans and the Americans who have extreme tension amongst themselves (Robert 230). The only change that has been made in this adaptation is the change of the clashing parties, instead of clashing families, West Side story bring a culture clash hence an illustration of the theme change to reflect the current period that the adaptation occurrence happens.
The West Side Story provides a clear example of how to create a successful adaptation of ideas and stories from a prior historical context and relate it with the current issues that the modern society is facing at a specific time. It also shows the importance of a media form in the depiction of various themes and the way the themes are conveyed effectively to an audience (Robert 233).
Baz Luhrmann: Romeo and Juliet
Baz Luhrmann provides a kaleidoscopic adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet provides a fascinating modern alternative while evaluating sixteenth-century drama. Here, the traditional dialogue is incorporated with modern slang, as he continually mixes the historical context with teenage love contemporary viewpoints (Lehmann 190). Just like Shakespeare, Luhrmann delights his audience by producing a film with beautiful costumes that shine brought when Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time. The drama presents a playlist that is an actual manifestation that the film is a modern version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The film provides an example of traditional aspects that have been transformed to match modern times aspects. The use of vehicles and props is deliberate to the film's contemporary setting. A good example is where the Montague boys getting involved into a fight with Capulet boys and the scene is characterized by the presence of many architectural surrounding and a gas station to enhance the modernized concept of the drama (Lehmann 191).
Romeo and Juliet Performance History
Romeo and Juliet is almost the most performed among Shakespeare's plays. The precise date of the first performance of this play is not known, but Lord Chamberlain's Men did it. The name of one of its actors is Will Kemp. The first Romeo actor is probably the leading actor o hat time, and his name was Richard Burbage, and Robert Goffe acted as the first Juliet. The performance took place in Germany in a city called Germany way back in 1904 (Worthen 1093)
Among the earliest performances of Romeo and Juliet in America happened in March 1730, and it was considered an amateur performance. The performance advertisement was made in a New York Gazette Newspaper by Joachimus Bertrand as he aimed at promoting an Apothecary production. The first ever professional performance of Romeo and Juliet occurred in North America by the Hallam Company, which was the first company dealing with professional theatre. Later, Hallam Company changed its name to America Company.
In the nineteenth century, the text faced alterations and was performed for many times. Among the most famous production of the text was done by David Garrick and it runs for almost the whole century. Among the most notable actors who took up the Romeo and Juliet roles were Ellen Terry and Henry Irving in 1882. Over time, Romeo and Juliet became the most regularly filmed Shakespeare's play. The most notable performance is the 1936 filming by George Cukor which attracted Oscar's array, the Baz Luhrmann film of 1996 and the 1968 film by Franco Zeffirelli's (Worthen 1096).
Themes in Romeo and Juliet
Theme of Love
In the play, the most prevalent theme is love. Though the play is seen to be the most archetypal story of love, it depicts a specific love type which is passionate, young and irrational. In the play, the type of love revolving around Romeo and Juliet is that where the two engage in selfish isolation from their surrounding world. It is said that Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love story. The two-act selfishly since they trust no one in their commitments. It is a love story characterized by tragedy. Juliet loves Romeo while the Capulet wanted to marry her off to Paris. Juliet does not love Paris, and he feels that in Scene two of the first Act, however, the Capulet assured him that they would rule their child's love by them and assured him not be doubtful (Shakespeare 14). The theme of love is shown when Juliet tries to talk to the Capulet letting them know o his love towards Romeo which they highly disapprove (Smith and Ross 20). The disapproving led to Juliet trying to escape her marriage with Paris, and the only escape route was death. She felt disturbed by being forced to get married to somebody who she felt nothing about love. Her wish was to marry Romeo and live peacefully ever after. Had Capulet listened to his daughter's sentiments she would not have died. It is love that claimed Juliet's and Romeo's lives.
Theme of Lust
The most prevalent theme in the play Romeo and Juliet is Love vs. lust. At the beginning of the play, Romeo is seen pinning Rosaline, and yet he complains, that Rosaline should not be hit with Cupid's arrow for she possesses Dian's wit. (Shakespeare 199). Cupid's mythological allusions, being the physic love Roman god, and Diana, being the chastity goddess eludes more hormone acceleration instead of true love feelings.
On the other hand, Romeo's love for Juliet is love at first sight. This is seen from page 43-52 of the play but is brought out more like an infatuation sign instead of love. Even before Romeo talks to Juliet, he depicts love which is solely based on her beauty. In the play, Act II, on the second scene, Romeo and Juliet agree on marriage. Though the two have known each other for approximately twenty minutes, they plan on spending a lifetime together yet they barely know each other's character. The two star-crossed lovers act in a rush while love is known to be patient while lust and infatuation are always in a hurry.
In conclusion, Romeo and Juliet is the best love story ever written and performed in history. The play has an interesting historical context in that existing texts about the same mentored it. The play has been adapted in the film and music industry, with an example of West Side Story, Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet and Taylor's love story song. The most prevalent themes in this play are the theme of love and the lust theme as described in the above discussion. The themes are well presented as Shakespeare provides a consistent flow of events until the end of the play.
Hapgood, Robert. "West Side Story and the Modern Appeal of Romeo and Juliet." Romeo and Juliet. Routledge, 2015. 229-241.
Lehmann, Courtney. "Strictly Shakespeare? Dead letters, ghostly fathers, and the cultural pathology of authorship in Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo+ Juliet." Shakespeare Quarterly 52.2 (2001): 189-221.
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print
Smith, Gordon Ross. "The balance of themes in Romeo and Juliet." Essays on Shakespeare (1965): 15-66.
Worthen, William B. "Drama, performativity, and performance." Publications of The Modern Language Association of America(1998): 1093-1107.
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