If you’re looking for a tale that highlights quarrels, swordplay, stabbing, death, gate-crashers, stealing someone else’s shorty, breaking curfew, elopement, passion, poison, and kissing and making up, then look no further than the story of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet.
Written by an Englishman but set in Italy, the play blends the timeless issues of culture, tradition, behaviour and duty with the more volatile elements of hostility, rebellion and passion.
The pair meet for the very first time at a party held by Juliet’s family (to which no Montague was invited). Romeo gatecrashes the party. At that time he has actually got the hots for another girl. However as soon as he lays eyes on Juliet he forgets all about what’s-her-name. Things are complicated when a fight between their opposing family and friends ends tragically.
But the couple know that they were made for each other. They also know that their families would never approve. So rather than wasting time trying to persuade mum and dad, they spend their energy with the help of the local priest, on plotting a secret marriage (which works), and on faking their own deaths (which doesn’t).
Sadly both Romeo and Juliet die at the end of the play. As a result of the tragedy however their families do resolve their differences. Some might say it’s a bit late, but this is typical of the tragic irony which Shakespeare’s often employs as part of his literary trademark.
Ultimately, like many of Shakespeare’s other “star-crossed” lovers, Romeo and Juliet are forced to make a great sacrifice in order to overcome the many obstacles that stand in the way of their union. It is the means by which they inadvertently do so that has helped to secure their romance as one of the best known, and best loved, in the world.