Romeo and Juliet: The Twentieth Century Essay
The play is set in the spring of 1946. The city of Verona slowly recovers from the effects the Civil War which engulfed the entire country for nearly two years. Although, the armed violence has been stopped nearly seven months ago, former hostilities have not completely disappeared. The scene opens with a quarrel between Montague and Capulet who are almost mortal enemies.
It should be mentioned that Montague is a former supporter of Italian Social Republic ruled by Benito Mussolini while Capulet was an active member of the Italian Resistance Movement. Both characters cannot stand each other even though in the past they were trade partners.
The fistfight is about to break out between them but it is stopped by the police officer called Escalus. He urges them to end their confrontation; otherwise both of them will be arrested. This is the first scene of the play. It is supposed to give viewers background knowledge of the events.
In the meantime, the viewers can see the conversation between two cousins Benvolio and Romeo, both of them are high-school students. Romeo is seventeen. He admits that he struggles with depression because he cannot win Rosaline’s love. One should bear in mind that Rosaline is also a distant relative of Montague. Benvolio suggests that Romeo should attend a party given at the house of Capulet.
Romeo follows this advice. He meets Juliet who has reached the age of 18. He cannot pluck up his courage to talk to her, but this encounter produces a strong impression on him.
To a great extent, this event makes him forget about Rosaline. After the party, Romeo takes his father’s car and drives to Juliet’s house and hears her confession. Juliet’s soliloquy should not deviate from the original text which. Overall, this is the moment when Romeo and Juliet understand that they are predestined to one another.
Meanwhile, Tybalt, who is a Juliet’s cousin, learns that Romeo visited the house of Capulet. He becomes infuriated with this thought. Tybalt and his sidekicks attack Romeo and Mercuti at school. In the course of the fight, Tybalt is accidentally injured by Romeo. When the ambulance arrives, Tybalt is still unconscious, and Romeo understands that he might have killed his opponent. He is placed under house arrest by the police.
In the mean time, Capulet learns that Juliet has fallen in love with Romeo, and he is infuriated with the behavior of her daughter. He accuses Juliet of betraying him. Moreover, Capulet threatens to send Juliet away from Verona and arrange the marriage with Paris who is also in love with Juliet. This possibility shocks Juliet because she understands that she will never be Paris’ joyful bride.
With the help of servant she arranges a meeting with Romeo, even despite the prohibition of her father. They enter into a marriage in Basilica of San Zeno which is one of the best famous cathedrals in Verona. The lovers intend to leave the city not to be involved in the hostilities between the two families.
This scene has to symbolize the absolute bliss of both characters. They believe that there is nothing that can threaten their happiness and love. This is one of the most important scenes in the play since it has to highlight the relations between the two characters.
However, the lovers are tracked down by Paris who begins to suspect that Juliet may not love another man. It becomes crystal clear to him that Juliet will never be his wife. In a moment of desperation, he shoots Juliet. Romeo attacks him, but Paris commits suicide. In the final scene, Romeo lies near the body of dying Juliet who confesses that Romeo has made her life worth living.
As the curtain begins to fall, the spectators can hear the sound of a gunshot. However, they do not know whether Romeo really committed suicide or not. There will be no scene describing the reconciliation between the two families because it is not essential for the development of the plot.
These are the main events of the plot. Overall, this interpretation can show how Shakespeare’s play can be incorporated into a different social and historical period. This is the main benefit of this approach. This narrative contains some deviations from Shakespeare’s original plot because it was necessary to make some important adaptations in order to make the text more realistic.
For instance, Friar Laurence gives Juliet a drug that can put her into a coma. It is not likely that she can obtain such a drug from any physician in the middle of the twentieth century. Furthermore, it was important to change the age of the main characters.
For instance, Shakespeare’s Juliet is only 13, and this may not be acceptable for the modern audience. Apart from that, the duel between Tybalt and Romeo could not be possible in any European country after World War II. This is why it was necessary to deviate from the original narrative.
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