“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

 

Shakespeare’s tragic romance of Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous love stories of all time. Although the play was written in about 1595, over 400 years ago, it still has themes that are relevant to us today. Two families from Verona; the Capulets and the Montagues, have hated each other for generations, even though none of them can really remember why. When teenagers, Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montague meet at a party and fall in love, they get married secretly knowing their families will not allow it.

As well as being a love story, the play also focuses on the hate between the two families and the terrible consequences of their prejudice. During the story six characters are killed, including the lovers themselves. To avoid marrying the man her parents chose for her Juliet drinks a sleeping potion to appear dead. Unfortunately, Romeo doesn’t know about her plan and he thinks she really is dead. He kills himself, but when Juliet wakes up and sees him, she kills herself too. The families only realise their mistake and decide to end the conflict when their own children are dead. From the tragedy a new hope is born for future generations.

 

Illustration by ​Giovanni Manna, taken from Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, Reading Shakespeare, Step 3 (B1.2)