Propably the most well known tale from the Bards’ hand is that of the tragic tale of starstruck lovers, Romeo & Juliet. Many a tale has been retold to emulate the tragic fate of the youth deep in love only to be by mistake in timing, error and cold hand of fate to be stolen from each other. In this short tale of mine, I intend to show that the most famous tale of love is not a tale of love at all but instead a commentary on the human nature and that of our society even today.
The tale begins in Act I with Sampson and Gerogy from house Capulet, walking the streets of Verona and talking of their favorite enemy the Montaque. The two exchange words of bravado and male bonding while spotting a member of their rival house approach. The men choose to provoke Abraham and Balthasar into a fight and not soon after is the whole street in in an uproar. Only the intervention of Escalus, the prince of Verona puts a halt to the bloody sport. Thusly are introduced the two families of Capulet and Montaque, ever at feud with each other over insults long since forgotten.
Our tale continue with lord of the house Montaque, questioning his nephew Benvolio of the incident on the street. Not soon after their discussion moves their topic to Montaque’s young son, Romeo, who pines over lost love of a maiden swore to chastity instead of the loving arms of Romeo’s bliss. Benvolio thus instructs the young lad to seek out other maidens to gaze his eyes upon and to forget the one that got away. As well all remember of our own youth, such a thing is not as easily encouraged for the heart to abandon its’ first desire.
In our next scene we have the the lord Capulet conversing with Paris, a relative of the prince. Though first their discussion laments of the grand feud between the two noblest of families, Paris has his agenda set on another topic for he desires the hand of Capulet’s daughter in marriage. Capulet however feels his daughter is yet too young to marry and harkens Paris to wait two more years and during those years, court and win the young maiden’s heart for Capulet wants his daughter’s consent for this event to transpire. So does Capulet throw a feast where Paris good in civilized manner woo the young maiden for her affection and if so graced, her hand.
Following this scene we are met again with Romeo and Benvolio, continuing their conversation of Romeo’s misbegotten heart. Thus a servant approaches with Capulet’s invitation for the banquet and Benvolio encourages young lad to attend and feast his eyes on the quests of house Capulet for he his certain one would find his fancy and make him forget is earlier flame.
After Romeo agreeing to attend we are met with Lady Capulet, a nurse and young Juliet to whom her mother approaches the topic of marriage. Juliet however does not yet find the marriage to her courter Paris an agreeable prospect.
On the street, a posse is walking: wingmen for young Romeo, whose heart is still heavy with his burning desires for one who would not return his affection.
Inside the banquet soon does Romeo’s eyes find that of the beauty of Juliet and though Lord Capulet’s nephew desires to cross swords with the youngster his uncle forbids him that for Romeo’s civilized manners do impress the noble. Not soon after does Romeo introduce himself to Juliet unbeknownst at the time that he courts with a rival: a fact Juliet’s nurse soon reveals to the youth. As Romeo is leaving so doth the truth be revealed to greatly impressed Juliet and both found themselves distraught.
To the banquet of Capulet’s ends the first act of the tale of starstruck lovers.
Act II begins with our young lovers finding themselves conversing in secret. Romeo had climbed the wall into Capulet grounds and so the two confess their love and so willing are they to embrace each other that they would cast away their family ties. Alas such is not their change but vows they exchange soon to meet in earnest at nine on the next day.
In the morning does Romeo meet with friar Laurence and confesses to him that his earlier flame, Rosalie, has abandoned his mind only to be replaced by that of the daughter of his enemy and so requests the friar to marry the two at appointed hour.
Benvolio and Merucitio had spent the night searching for Romeo and dismayed they had been for the boy giving them the slip. When they do meet do the two interrogate the youngster for his indiscretion. A nurse for Juliet soon comes asking for Romeo and inquires as to his intentions. Satisfied with Romeo’s intentions to be pure the nurse agrees to pass on a message for Juliet to meet Romeo at friar Laurence for marriage.
Back at Capulet does the nurse inform of Romeo’s intentions to Juliet and overjoyed she is of the prospect of marriage to him.
And so the two shall meet again in Laurence’s chambers and overjoyed they are both to soon set into matrimony.
On the street Mercutio and Benvolio meet with Tybalt, for the former had sent forth a challenge to Romeo. Though Romeo tries to dissolve the situation with words Tybalt will have none of that. The ensuing scuffle leaves Mercutio mortally wounded and Tybant fleeing the scene. Tybalt returns and Romeo finally fights him avenging Mercutio’s fall. To avert the Prince’s judgement Romeo flees the scene and the prince condemns Romeo to banishment.
Juliet’s nurse soon informs her of Romeo’s actions and so Juliet bids the nurse to bring Romeo to her as he hides in Laurence’s chambers.
Laurence, finding Romeo in his chambers does inform the young man of his punishment and over Romeo’s stalwart objections reminds him of the fact that law would demand Romeo’s head instead of mere banishment. Juliet’s nurse’s knock interrupts the argument. Indeed, she has come to see Romeo and to let him know Juliet still holds love for him and is greatly distraught for their fate. Ready to take his own life Romeo is convinced by Laurence that all is not yet lost and leaves for Manua. Before leaving, Romeo meets with Juliet one more time.
Soon after Romeo’s departure, Juliet’s mother approaches. The two converse of Romeo and his deed and mistakenly lady Capulet assumes Juliet’s grief be for her slain cousin and so does the girl let her mother draw such conclusions. Juliet’s father then arrives and informs his daughter that marriage is to be commenced with Juliet and Paris at Thursday. Juliet denies this and invokes her father’s wrath who threatens to disown her if she doesn’t marry Paris. Feigning resignation does Juliet inform her nurse that she shall pray at Laurence’s for absolution.
At Laurence’s, Juliet confesses her desire to either be with Romeo or rather die by her own hand, for marriage to Paris is not an option for her. And so Laurence suggests a daring plan: for Juliet to fake her death and when brought to Laurence for burial she would run away with Romeo whom Laurence will summon by letter and inform of his plan.
And so Juliet returns home, begs her father’s forgiveness and feints consent to the marriage: all to alleviate the suspicions of all. When she is finally alone in her chambers she quaffs the draught from Laurence and falls to her bed as if death hath struck her down.
In the morning, Juliet’s family find what appears to be a most dead Juliet.
On the street of Mantua, Romeo meets with Balthasar who informs the lad of Juliet’s demise. And so Romeo seeks out the apothecary from whom he purchases poison despite Mantua’s law demanding death to anyone peddling in such things for the man is poor and needs the money.
At the tomb owned by Capulets does Romeo arrive only to be interrupted by Paris, who desired a moment alone in secret with his dead bride. Despite Romeo’s attempts to shun away the young noble, the two fight Paris attempting to catch Romeo for his crimes but instead finds himself at the wrong end of fate and falls down dead upon Romeo’s blade. Honouring his opponent’s last wish, Romeo lays Paris to the same tomb as Juliet. Finally he drinks the poison provided and dies next to his beloved.
Outside friar Laurence comes upon Balthasar. Hearing that Romeo is about, the friar makes for the tomb only to witness the aftermath of what hath transpired. It is then that Juliet stirs from her slumber only to be informed by the holy man of the demise of both of her suitors and so distraught she becomes that she rejects the friar’s plea to go with her and sequester with the nuns.
With Laurence departed Juliet finds the poisoned cup. With her beloved’s dagger she kills herself and falls upon the man she would have called husband. The commotion eventually attracts attention of both Capulet and Montaque’s, as well as the prince himself, and so the friar tells his tale of how he sought to bring the lovers together.
Should the tale end there it would indeed be a tragic love story of no equal in time and space. Alas the words that follow are the last of the play and paint a very different image:
CAPULET: O brother Montague, give me thy hand: This is my daughter’s jointure, for no more Can I demand.
MONTAGUE: But I can give thee more: For I will raise her statue in pure gold; That while Verona by that name is known, There shall no figure at such rate be set As that of true and faithful Juliet.
CAPULET: As rich shall Romeo’s by his lady’s lie; Poor sacrifices of our enmity!
PRINCE: A glooming peace this morning with it brings; The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head: Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things; Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished: For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
So it is that with the tragic death of Juliet and her Romeo do the two houses, joined in grief, declare peace over their long enmity. This here is the bard’s true purpose. To tell us a truth that history has seen repeated throughout the ages with wanton discrimination. We humans are as our nature dictates, lazy and comfortable people. We find ways to make our days bearable despite adversity of thought and form. When such adversity does enter our orbit we shall do our best to ignore it and find ways to alleviate the shock of the change. Status quo is our motto. Change is the great enemy. The unknown that we dare not provoke unless at the greatest of need, even when that unknown opposes hate and anger. Eventually when our daily lives find their routine, we enter the state of apathy. To shake us from that apathy requires an event that forces us to leap from that ledge of unknown and stare down at fate itself in the darkest of hours.
To exact change, great tragedy must befall first — etched in blood for all the world to see.