Romeo and Juliet

Overview

Star-crossed Romeo and Juliet are Shakespeare's most famous lovers. A staple of high school reading lists, the tragedy especially resonates with young adult readers who, like Romeo and Juliet, have experienced the exhilarating and perilous phenomenon of being "in love". Given the tragic ending of the play, what does Shakespeare illustrate about his teen protagonists: Are they the hapless victims of fate, or are they responsible for the poor choices they make? Is their love the "real thing", or is it ...

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Overview

Star-crossed Romeo and Juliet are Shakespeare's most famous lovers. A staple of high school reading lists, the tragedy especially resonates with young adult readers who, like Romeo and Juliet, have experienced the exhilarating and perilous phenomenon of being "in love". Given the tragic ending of the play, what does Shakespeare illustrate about his teen protagonists: Are they the hapless victims of fate, or are they responsible for the poor choices they make? Is their love the "real thing", or is it self-indulgent passion run amok? These are some of the ever relevant questions discussed in this critical edition of Romeo and Juliet.

Presents the text of Shakespeare's play accompanied by review questions, activities, and essays on the play as theatre.

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Editorial Reviews

Carol Burbridge
Keep[s] intact the essence of Shakespeare while telling an exciting story that will keep kids' attention.... Highly recommended.
John Warren Stewig
Gets inside the nature and motivations of these adult play characters some might think too remote from children's lives. —Winter 2000
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
For teens who sometimes think they invented angst, the ultimate tragedy of these star-crossed lovers is a must-read. To make the 16th-century work more palatable for modern teens, Jacqueline Ritten retells the story in the form of a letter from Juliet to her parents. This prologue elucidates the events leading up to Juliet's drinking the sleep potion that will put her in a deep sleep until her rescue by her lover Romeo. In an epilogue, Juliet's nurse explains the tragic turn of events fourteen years after the deaths of the young lovers. The unabridged play follows; again in an attempt to appeal to young readers, the text is in a large font with plenty of space between the characters' lines. This gives the text a clean, crisp look. It is not certain that most teens would be drawn to Shakespeare, but this paperback seems immediately attractive, with its inky black glossy cover adorned by a single blood-red rose. Hopefully, once they have the book in their hands, teens will turn the pages and be drawn in to the story. Extras such as a modern day teen quiz and Facebook pages for Romeo and Juliet trivialize this great work, adding nothing. Forbidden love, rivalry, and unsympathetic parents all combine in one of Shakespeare's great tragedies. May it find a new audience with today's teens. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
The tragic story of Shakespeare's young lovers is eloquently told in story format with language that is accessible to young readers. The age-old quarrel between the Montagues and the Capulets sets the scene and provides the introduction to their children, Romeo and Juliet. The efforts of the Prince of Verona to end the feud is summarized, as is Paris's proposal to marry Juliet when she reaches the age of fourteen. The familiar tale continues with Romeo's uninvited attendance at the Capulet ball and his encounter with Juliet. It includes the interference of Juliet's cousin, Tybalt, and the tragic consequences. Other significant details include the balcony scene, the lovers' secret marriage, and Romeo's banishment. Friar Laurence's well-intended assistance and the disastrous results precede the closing scene of reconciliation of the two warring families. Quotations from Shakespeare's play are interwoven into the story, contributing to the authentic tone of the retelling. Numerous pen and ink drawings accented with pastel colors add to the ethereal mood that pervades overall. A good introduction to this classic piece of literature for young readers not yet ready for the original.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-This timeless tale is retold in clear prose interspersed with quoted dialogue, italicized for easy identification. The well-known elements are here: the feuding families; the love-at-first-sight encounter of the protagonists; their passionate-if-short-lived romance; and the reconciliation brought about by the teens' tragic deaths. Although the text generally flows smoothly, there are problems. Romeo's bemoaning his unrequited love of Rosaline is never mentioned, eliminating the whole premise of him easily transferring his passion from one girl to another. While the language generally suggests the poetry of the original verse, (e.g., "she knew the breath of love"), some of the phrases are oversimplified or too modern in tone. For example, a hotheaded Tybalt mutters, "Just you wait-.You'll pay for this." Later, when Romeo confesses his feelings for Juliet to Friar Laurence, the priest never attempts to urge him to go slowly, as he does in Shakespeare's play. Set in a wash of sepia tones that suggest the rich colors of old Verona, Unzner's watercolor-and-pen illustrations are well executed; however, her technique of overlaying subsidiary characters in penned sketches gives the artwork a somewhat cluttered and unfinished appearance. Furthermore, the quotes that are incorporated into the pictures are often difficult to read and distracting. While Kindermann's accessible version will appeal to a younger and less sophisticated audience than Bruce Coville's version (Dial, 1999), it will not replace his exquisite retelling.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-12-- These three plays have been skillfully abridged by Garfield. His method is to retain Shakespeare's own language but to trim and cut either by giving only the early lines of longer passages, by editing scenes that involve secondary characters, or by cutting some scenes altogether. Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night's Dream stand up well. All of the well-known lines and most of the poetry have been saved. Romeo and Juliet is more truncated, but even here not only the basic plot but also the sense of urgency of the two young people's love has been preserved. Unlike the prose retellings of the stories by Charles and Mary Lamb, Marchette Chute, and Bernard Miles, these are shortened versions of the plays themselves, complete with stage directions and waiting to be performed. Fortunate the students whose teachers are willing to become producers. Based on ``The Animated Tales as seen on HBO,'' there are lots of watercolor cartoon sketches throughout, which adds to the appeal for children. Each book begins with a short piece about the theatre in Shakespeare's time, about William Shakespeare, and about the play itself. Companion videos are available (Random House). --Ann Stell, Central Islip Public Library, NY
Booknews
This volume describes the stage history of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Loehlin's (English, U. of Texas, Austin) extensive introduction examines shifts in interpretation, textual adaptations, and staging innovations over the course of several centuries. The complete text of the play is then presented, along with detailed commentary on how different directors and performers have modified and interpreted it. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811469746
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/1/1991
  • Series: SHORT CLASSICS SB
  • Edition number: 1991
  • Age range: 9 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare's printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit www.folger.edu.

Barbara A. Mowat is Director of Academic Programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, Chair of the Folger Institute, and author of The Dramaturgy of Shakespeare's Romances and of essays on Shakespeare's plays and on the editing of the plays.

Paul Werstine is Professor of English at King's College and the Graduate School of the University of Western Ontario, Canada. He is the author of many papers and articles on the printing and editing of Shakespeare's plays and was Associate Editor of the annual Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England from 1980 to 1989.

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Read an Excerpt

Act One

SCENE ONE


Verona. A Public Place. Enter Sampson and Gregory, armed with swords and bucklers

sampson. Gregory, o’ my word, we ’ll not carry coals.

gregory. No, for then we should be colliers.

sampson. I mean, an we be in choler, we ’ll draw.

gregory. Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o’ the collar.

sampson. I strike quickly, being moved.

gregory. But thou art not quickly moved to strike.

sampson. A dog of the house of Montague moves me.

gregory. To move is to stir, and to be valiant is to stand; therefore, if thou art moved, thou runnest away.

sampson. A dog of that house shall move me to stand: I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague’s.

gregory. That shows thee a weak slave; for the weakest goes to the wall.

sampson. ’Tis true; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall: therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.

gregory. The quarrel is between our masters and us their men.

sampson. ’Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant: when I have fought with the men, I will be cruel with the maids; I will cut off their heads.

gregory. The heads of the maids?

sampson. Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maiden-heads; take it in what sense thou wilt.

gregory. They must take it in sense that feel it.

sampson. Me they shall feel while I am able to stand; and ’tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh.

gregory. ’Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been poor John. Drawthy tool; here comes two of the house of the Montagues.

Enter Abraham and Balthasar

sampson. My naked weapon is out; quarrel, I will back thee.

gregory. How! turn thy back and run?

sampson. Fear me not.

gregory. No, marry; I fear thee!

sampson. Let us take the law of our sides; let them begin.

gregory. I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list.

sampson. Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.

abraham. Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

sampson. I do bite my thumb, sir.

abraham. Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

sampson. (Aside to Gregory) Is the law of our side if I say ay?

gregory. (Aside to Sampson) No.

sampson. No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite my thumb, sir.

gregory. Do you quarrel, sir?

abraham. Quarrel, sir! no, sir.

sampson. If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.

abraham. No better.

sampson. Well, sir.

gregory. (Aside to Sampson) Say “better”; here comes one of my master’s kinsmen.

sampson. Yes, better, sir.

abraham. You lie.

sampson. Draw, if you be men. Gregory, remember thy swashing blow. They fight

Enter Benvolio

benvolio. Part, fools! Put up your swords; you know not what you do.Beats down their swords

Enter Tybalt

tybalt. What! art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.

benvolio. I do but keep the peace: put up thy sword, Or manage it to part these men with me.

tybalt. What! drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward!They fight

Enter several persons of both houses, who join the fray; then enter Citizens, with clubs and partisans

citizens. Clubs, bills, and partisans! strike! beat them down! Down with the Capulets! down with Montagues!

Enter Capulet in his gown, and Lady Capulet

capulet. What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!

lady capulet. A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?

capulet. My sword, I say! Old Montague is come, And flourishes his blade in spite of me.

Enter Montague and Lady Montague

montague. Thou villain Capulet! Hold me not; let me go.

lady montague. Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe.

Enter Prince with his Train

prince. Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel,— Will they not hear? What ho! you men, you beasts, That quench the fire of your pernicious rage With purple fountains issuing from your veins, On pain of torture, from those bloody hands Throw your mis-temper’d weapons to the ground, And hear the sentence of your moved prince. Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word, By thee, old Capulet, and Montague, Have thrice disturb’d the quiet of our streets, And made Verona’s ancient citizens Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments, To wield old partisans, in hands as old, Canker’d with peace, to part your canker’d hate. If ever you disturb our streets again Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. For this time, all the rest depart away: You, Capulet, shall go along with me; And, Montague, come you this afternoon To know our further pleasure in this case, To old Free-town, our common judgment-place. Once more, on pain of death, all men depart. Exeunt all but Montague, Lady Montague, and Benvolio

montague. Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach? Speak, nephew, were you by when it began?

benvolio. Here were the servants of your adversary And yours close fighting ere I did approach: I drew to part them; in the instant came The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepar’d, Which, as he breath’d defiance to my ears, He swung about his head, and cut the winds, Who, nothing hurt withal, hiss’d him in scorn. While we were interchanging thrusts and blows, Came more and more, and fought on part and part, Till the prince came, who parted either part.

lady montague. O! where is Romeo? saw you him to-day? Right glad I am he was not at this fray.

benvolio. Madam, an hour before the worshipp’d sun Peer’d forth the golden window of the east, A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad; Where, underneath the grove of sycamore That westward rooteth from the city’s side, So early walking did I see your son: Towards him I made; but he was ware of me, And stole into the covert of the wood: I, measuring his affections by my own, That most are busied when they ’re most alone, Pursu’d my humour not pursuing his, And gladly shunn’d who gladly fled from me.

montague. Many a morning hath he there been seen, With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew, Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs: But all so soon as the all-cheering sun Should in the furthest east begin to draw The shady curtains from Aurora’s bed, Away from light steals home my heavy son, And private in his chamber pens himself, Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out, And makes himself an artificial night. Black and portentous must this humour prove Unless good counsel may the cause remove.

benvolio. My noble uncle, do you know the cause?

montague. I neither know it nor can learn of him.

benvolio. Have you importun’d him by any means?

montague. Both by myself and many other friends: But he, his own affections’ counsellor, Is to himself, I will not say how true, But to himself so secret and so close, So far from sounding and discovery, As is the bud bit with an envious worm, Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air, Or dedicate his beauty to the sun. Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow, We would as willingly give cure as know.

benvolio. See where he comes: so please you, step aside; I’ll know his grievance, or be much denied.

montague. I would thou wert so happy by thy stay, To hear true shrift. Come, madam, let’s away.Exeunt Montague and Lady

Enter Romeo

benvolio. Good-morrow, cousin.

romeo.Is the day so young?

benvolio. But new struck nine.

romeo.Ay me! sad hours seem long. Was that my father that went hence so fast?

benvolio. It was. What sadness lengthens Romeo’s hours?

romeo. Not having that, which having, makes them short. benvolio. In love? romeo. Out—

benvolio. Of love?

romeo. Out of her favour, where I am in love.

benvolio. Alas! that love, so gentle in his view, Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof.

romeo. Alas! that love, whose view is muffled still, Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will. Where shall we dine? O me! What fray was here? Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all. Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love. Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate! O any thing! of nothing first create. O heavy lightness! serious vanity! Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms! Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health! Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! This love feel I, that feel no love in this. Dost thou not laugh?

benvolio.No, coz, I rather weep.

romeo. Good heart, at what?

benvolio. At thy good heart’s oppression.

romeo. Why, such is love’s transgression. Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast, Which thou wilt propagate to have it press’d With more of thine: this love that thou hast shown Doth add more grief to too much of mine own. Love is a smoke rais’d with the fume of sighs; Being purg’d, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes; Being vex’d, a sea nourish’d with lovers’ tears: What is it else? a madness most discreet, A choking gall, and a preserving sweet. Farewell, my coz.Going

benvolio.Soft, I will go along; An if you leave me so, you do me wrong.

romeo. Tut! I have lost myself; I am not here; This is not Romeo, he’s some other where.

benvolio. Tell me in sadness, who is that you love.

romeo. What! shall I groan and tell thee?

benvolio.Groan! why, no; But sadly tell me who.

romeo. Bid a sick man in sadness make his will; Ah! word ill urg’d to one that is so ill. In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.

benvolio. I aim’d so near when I suppos’d you lov’d.

romeo. A right good mark-man! And she’s fair I love.

benvolio. A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.


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Table of Contents

Plot synopsis
who's who in "Romeo and Juliet"
themes and images in "Romeo and Juliet"
text commentary
self-test questions
self-test answers
quotations you should know
writing an examination essay.
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