This passing weekend was Valentine’s Day, the celebration of love. My husband is particularly anti-cupid and refuses to acknowledge the day on any level. I, on the other hand, think it’s a good opportunity to think about those we love, even if we don’t buy into the boundless commercialism. And so in the spirit of love, I thought I’d remember one of the great love stories of all time – Romeo and Juliet. The story is well known so I won’t retell it here but rather share what Romeo and Juliet has meant and does mean to me as a reader.
I first studied Romeo and Juliet in Year 9 and, at fourteen years old, was a typically emotional and hormonal teenager. It was the perfect age to read this tragic tale of star crossed lovers. Filled with intemperate emotion, the cruel beast of fate, and a perpetual need to resist authority, if you haven’t read Romeo and Juliet as a teenage girl that I don’t think you ever really get it.
Romeo and Juliet as lovers are unlike any others in Shakespeare’s repertoire. I never really understood the connection between Troilus and Cressida and thought Troilus himself was a little too self-obsessed and preoccupied with the images of love, rather than being compelled into action. Mark and Cleopatra fare slightly better in my view but I always return to Romeo and Juliet when I want to capture the spirit of young all-consuming and passionate love.
For never was there a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
Gets me. Every. Single. Time.