Essay on The Enduring Legend of Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet is the story of the two star-crossed lovers, a secret marriage, potions to simulate death, and a tragic ending has been the subject of writers for centuries. Claims of a basic plot can be found as early as the third century (Dill 4), however, the more detailed versions of did not appear until the fifteenth century. The legend of Romeo and Juliet slowly developed by the efforts of Luigi da Porto, Matteo Bandello and Arthur Brooke. However, it was, "only in Shakespeare’s hands did the love story itself become the lyrical celebration of youthful passion that we all associate with the names of Romeo and Juliet today" (Mack 71). I intend to give a history of the development of Romeo and Juliet leading to the success of Shakespeare with its effect on the town of Verona, Italy. Luigi da Porto published his version of Romeo and Juliet in 1530. The people of Verona credited him with "the first to tell the story of the two unfortunate lovers" (Masterpieces of Verona 48). They may acknowledge his story with such acceptance since he claimed Pellegrimo of Verona had the early fourteenth century chronicles from Bartolomes Della Scala showing the two unfortunate lovers as a true story. Porto’s claim of a factual account may have actually inspired the future writers to use Verona as the setting of Romeo and Juliet.

Matteo Bandello, an Italian writer, included the story in his Novelle published in 1559. This popular prose was translated into French which Arthur Brooke used as a base for his 1562 poem, The Tragicall Historye of Romeo and Juliet.

It has been noted that Shakespeare relied entirely on the Arthur Brooke poem to bring Romeo and Juliet back to life. Shakespeare’s talents are credited for the changes he made in ...

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Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. New York: Appleton-Century- Crafts, Inc., 1948.

Bettiol, Gabriella. The Story of Romeo and Juliet. Verona: Randazzo Edizioni Taristiche, Date not available.

Gill, Roma, ed. Romeo and Juliet. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

"Juliet’s Tomb." Masterpieces of Verona. No edition, 1987.

Mack, Maynard. Everybody’s Shakespeare. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Pallot, James, ed. The Movie Guide. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 1995.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. ed. J.A. Bryant, Jr. New York: Penguin Group, 1990. Shakespeare, William. Romeo & Juliet. ed. Jane Backman. Lincolnwood: NTC Publishing Group, 1994.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. ed. John E. Hankins. New York: Penguin Books, 1960. "Verona." Baedeker. 3rd ed. 1996.

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