The Universality of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

  • Length: 767 words (2.2 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

Universality of Romeo and Juliet



There seems to be an on-going debate as to


whether we should attempt to "modernize" Shakespeare (or any of the


other classics for that matter).  I think that you can look at it


two ways.  Both appeal to the universality of the work.  Either:


1. It is universal and modernizing it only emphasizes that fact, or


2. It is universal and  modernizing it is not necessary.  I think you


can play it both ways, and I think Romeo and Juliet  is a good example


of this.  The story still touches the lives of the audience whether


they see it set in the Elizabethan time period it was written in, or


the present.  I even think it works well for other time periods, for


example, I have seen it set in Civil War America.  I also think that


it would work equally well set before the Elizabethan era or some time


in the distant future.  The  story is that universal.




Imagine these scenarios: 


Romeo is African-American; Juliet is Caucasian.


Romeo is from Mars; Juliet is from Venus. 


Romeo is a backwoods country boy; Juliet is a city girl.


Romeo is Protestant; Juliet is Catholic.




Well, you get the picture, there are any number of variations on the


theme: Boy and Girl come from different worlds.  There are great


obstacles between them. In spite of those obstacles they fall in love.


They marry.  Catastrophe befalls them.  They are separated. Fate works


against them and they die in tragedy. Through their deaths their


different worlds realize their common bonds and lay aside their


differences toward a unified future.  It does not matter what the


differences are.  The underlying theme still works.



Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Universality of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet." 17 Mar 2018
Title Length Color Rating  
Othello’s Universality of Appeal Essay - Othello’s Universality of Appeal         The Shakespearean play Othello has enjoyed popularity on the stage and in print for 400 years. What are the features which enhance this quality among readers. And what detracts.   Does the playwright’s use of “double time” contribute to its universality of appeal. In The Riverside Shakespeare Frank Kermode explains the advantages of “double time” to Shakespeare:   “Double time” is a classical topic of Othello criticism; one of its uses is to remind us that the play, more largely considered, is characterized by a kind of imaginative duplicity....   [tags: Othello essays]
:: 14 Works Cited
3053 words
(8.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Othello: Is its Enduring Universality Explainable Essay example - Othello: Is its Enduring Universality Explainable?         The Shakespearean drama Othello is recognized by literary critics, with few exceptions, as having a universal appeal. What are the reasons for this universality.   The universality of the play perhaps depends on the universal appeal of its main characters, for example Iago the antagonist. In the essay “Wit and Witchcraft: an Approach to Othello” Robert B. Heilman explains the universality of the antagonist:   As the spiritual have-not, Iago is universal, that is, many things at once, and of many times at once....   [tags: Othello essays]
:: 10 Works Cited
2534 words
(7.2 pages)
Research Papers [preview]
Essay about Othello: its Universality Pro and Con - Othello: its Universality Pro and Con        In the Shakespearean play Othello there are elements which the audiences of 400 years ago found appealing, and which the audiences of today find appealing. This is the secret of the universality of the drama – a quality which some critics question.   H. S. Wilson in his book of literary criticism, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, discusses the lack of universality in the protagonist of the play:   Still, the play is Othello’s story: he is central throughout....   [tags: Othello essays]
:: 11 Works Cited
2649 words
(7.6 pages)
Research Papers [preview]
Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare Essay example - As one of the most complex characters in the play, Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio’s purpose is to act as a static catalyst for the death of most of the characters. Shakespeare uses Mercutio’s character cleverly as the kind of character that stays in the background, but influences the rest of the cast in the utmost amount. Mercutio’s light and occasionally sardonic humor at inapt times relieves the play from being a complete tragedy and allows the audience a false sense of security before calamity strikes, such as the death of his character....   [tags: Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare] 990 words
(2.8 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" Essay - Romeo and Juliet, is one of the famous plays written by William Shakespeare who is known for his famous plays and poems. Romeo and Juliet are repeated by two different directors which are not alike, in both directing and speaking. The play is a very tragic at the end when Romeo and Juliet die due with their parent’s strife and hatred; however their death ends the anger and rage between the two families. The main theme of the play is romantic but ends with a tragic scene because the two star crossed lovers take their life to a whole misadventured piteous overthrows their parent’s strife....   [tags: Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet,] 740 words
(2.1 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Timelessness of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Essay - The classic play Romeo and Juliet by the famous playwright William Shakespeare is one of the most beautiful love stories of all time and has captured and inspired readers everywhere. Regardless of the fact that it was written in the 1500’s, it is still being performed and extolled today. There is a multitude of reasons for such continuance of the play. First of all, its everlasting themes of love and hate enable people to deeply relate to the story. Secondly, its memorable characters deeply imprint on the minds of readers....   [tags: Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet] 643 words
(1.8 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on Interpretation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - Interpretation of Romeo and Juliet What would cause young lovers to mysteriously commit suicide so they can be together. Is it their parents who forbid them to see one another, or is it themselves. William Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, tells about two young "star-crossed lovers" whose deaths were caused by fate, not their parents or themselves. First of all, Romeo and Juliet were from feuding families: Romeo a Montague, and Juliet a Capulet. Romeo was so depressed about his unrequited love for Rosaline when it just so happens, he goes to a masquerade party....   [tags: Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet] 502 words
(1.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Imagery In Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet - The tragic play "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare, is a love story between Romeo, the young heir of the Montagues, and Juliet, the only surviving child of the house of Capulet. This story of the young "star-crossed" lovers is an extraordinary work in which Shakespeare uses a variety of verbal imagery including; contrasts between sex and love with hate, conflict, and death, comparisons between romantic and unromantic views of love, the correlative use of light and dark polarity, and the correlation of fate and fortune....   [tags: Shakespeare Romeo Juliet] 1718 words
(4.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - In all of the best works of literature, each of a writer's characters has a purpose whether the role is small or big. Even if it goes unnoticed, the small characters usually play a key role to the story's plot development. These minor characters also add depth to the story's world and also help in the development of the major characters' personality. In William Shakespeare's play The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, the minor characters of Friar Lawrence, the Nurse, and Tybalt are in many ways the most pivotal characters to the play's development. F...   [tags: Shakespeare Romeo Juliet] 1138 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Essay - William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet ‘Romeo and Juliet' was written in the year 1595 by William Shakespeare. The story is based of two teenagers who are in a love affair. It is set in Verona, Italy. In this essay I shall explore how Juliet is not a typical renaissance daughter, but more of a modern day women. Firstly, a typical renaissance daughter was expected to respect, her elders without questioning them. However, Juliet does respect her elders but however she does not listen to there rules they have set for her....   [tags: Romeo Juliet Analysis Shakespeare] 1341 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches


Now to the question of the language.  Should you tell a "different"


story using Shakespeare's words?  You could, after all, who could tell


it better?  On the other hand, it could work as well to say "the same


thing" using language contemporary to the setting in which your story


is placed.  It would depend on your purpose for telling the story.  I


believe that Romeo and Juliet is one of those stories, as are


many of Shakespeare's, that transcend the language.  I could watch it


in a tongue entirely foreign to me and still be moved by it. It is


somewhat like those who see an Italian opera and are moved to tears in


spite of not understanding one syllable of what they hear.  Of course,


understanding the language makes it only that much better as it allows


the viewer to appreciate the mastery of the playwright. 




So, what am I trying to say?  I guess it is this:  It is okay to set a


play or a story in a time and place different from where it was


originally set?  This would be one true test to its universality. 


At the same time, moving it to a new time and place should not be


necessary if it is well written in the first place.  Because it is a


truly universal story, Romeo and Juliet works well in any


setting, including the one in which Shakespeare planted it.  (And


let's not forget that Shakespeare himself "borrowed" this story and


made changes to it.)  The story transcends the language and so is not


dependent on it, but who could tell it better than the Master


Wordsmith himself?  Changing the language is permitted, but not


necessary.  If a new playwright wants to tell the same story using


different words, he may, but he should give credit where it is due for


his inspiration. 




And to another debate in class: Is the 1997 film really William


Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? That is a good question.  They


use Shakespeare's words (some of them at least).  They act out his


story (more or less).  They just don't do it in his setting.  I would


have to say it maybe should be called William Shakespeare's Romeo


and Juliet As Seen Through the Eyes of **** (sorry, I didn't write


down the name of the screenwriter/producer).  That, however more


accurate, would be a lot of title to deal with and so maybe we should


just leave well enough alone.


Return to