Romeo and Juliet: “Why Do We Have To Read This Play” Part III

Here is the last post on my series of 3 which examines the importance question of why should we read or see this play? In the last post I argued that, although the play is sometimes billed as a moral story, the characters engage in really reprehensible behavior- premarital sex, muder, and whining about their teenage problems. So the question is, if the play isn’t a moral parable, what can we gain from reading it?

Reason # 3- The Play Shows Truths About

the Human Condition.

  • Richard Dadd, Sketch for the Passions. Love (1853)

    Even though the play’s characters frequently do rash and sometimes foolish things, this only serves to make them more complex and realistic. The truth is, we all do foolish things when in love, and they all dramatically effect our lives, (sometimes for better or for worse).

The point is that the qualities we demonstrate when we’re in love, reveal who we truly are. Romeo is foolish, obsessed with his lover, sometimes selfish, and hot-blooded. He is also tender, caring, utterly without deceit or pretense, and committed to his beloved at any cost.

  • I believe this is why we really need to keep reading and watching this play. As Judy Dench said in the film “Shakespeare In Love,” the play shows the very truth and nature of love, not just the budding romances or passionate affairs, but dark obsessions, painful separations, family bonds, and even, “glooming peace,” as the Prince says at the end of the play. Shakespeare shows them all, not judging one to be better or worse, but demonstrating the feelings and the actions that arise in reaction to the powerful force of love.

Frank Dicksee, Romeo and Juliet (1884)

So when you read this play, try to look beyond the peculiar language, the old-fashioned type and the flowery poetry. Inside you might see a reflection of yourself, what Shakespeare called, “the mirror up to nature.”

Thanks for Reading,

-Shakespearean Student

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