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Discuss different interpretations of "Romeo and Juliet" that you have studied, focusing on The Nurse, Juliet and Mercutio.

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Introduction

Discuss different interpretations of "Romeo and Juliet" that you have studied, focusing on The Nurse, Juliet and Mercutio. "All you need is love." The Beatles wrote this in the 1960's but they certainly were not the first to think it. Shakespeare's tragedy "Romeo and Juliet" was based around this sentiment. It is a story of love, passion, romance, betrayal, life and of course, death. In the late 1990's Baz Luhrmann produced one of the most controversial interpretations of a Shakespeare play. He shot it in modern costume with modern settings, though he kept the original text. Using Verona Beach, Los Angles as his setting and Leonardo DiCaprio as his leading man, Luhrmann made it into a Hollywood movie and one of the biggest blockbuster hits of the 90's. However 20 years earlier Franco Zephirelli had shot his classic interpretation of the film-using period costume. This film follows the script fairly closely and is close to how Shakespeare would have had it performed. Even stage productions of the classic tragedy have been updated. Not long ago the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford put on a modern interpretation, which was apparently much like the 1970's cult film "Grease" centring around fast cars and leather jackets. The RSC production that our class saw was much closer to an original Shakespeare production: however it was of poor quality, many of our girls feeling that they could have acted the parts more convincingly themselves. The characters of the play are complex: they blossom and unveil themselves throughout the play; first impressions are not always right. Juliet Capulet, the only child of Lord and Lady Capulet, whose rivalry with the Montague family has been alive as long as the families have been, begins the play as an innocent young girl. She is very child like, obeying her parents. Her loyalties lie with her family. In the first scene we meet her, she is with the nurse. ...read more.

Middle

My lord, I'll tell my lady you will come." She likes the attention from Mercutio and seems to be playing with him most of the time. In Zeffirrelli's film Mercutio takes off the nurse's head-dress, he means no harm and wraps himself in it taunting her and singing songs as he goes. "An old hare hoar, And an old hare hoar, Is very good meat in lent? But a hare that is hoar Is to much for a score, When it hoars ere it be spent." The Zeffirrelli film has a different interpretation of Mercutio to the later Luhrmann film. He is always the centre of attention, making crude jokes and taunting people. He is generally presented as "the Joker", "The Funny One." It is only for a very short time in the Queen Mab speech when we see the disturbed side of Mercutio, Mercutio easily shrugs off that character once Romeo consoles him and goes back to playing the fool soon after. During Mercutio's last scene he is still laughing: it appears in fact an accident that he was hurt in the first place, whereas in the other film Mercutio and Tybalt's fight is much darker and more sinister, their intentions both very clear. Mercutio says, "'Tis not so deep as a well Nor so wide as a church-door, But 'tis enough, 'twill serve," All his friends laugh, even the Capulets laugh. It is not until he says, "A plague 'aboth your houses," and actually dies that people actually realise that he has been injured. Zephirelli and Luhrmann both use a stage setting for Mercutio's death, reflecting his showman-ship to his last words. In the scenes of his death in the Luhrmann film Mercutio is very angry and because his hilarious scene with the nurse is cut our lasting impressions of him are of resentment for the feuding between the families. Personally I prefer the older portrayal of Mercutio. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is very over-the-top, at the end of each pew shines a neon cross, thousands of tiny candles surround Juliet, she looks peaceful where she lays. The moments that Romeo spends with Juliet are beautiful. Outside helicopters fly overhead and police surround the church with their guns, but inside it is tranquil and the fact that the lovers are in a church elevates their love. DiCaprio acts the part well; more convincingly so than the Zeffirrelli actor, he is emotional, tears streaming down his face. He becomes more and more "choked up" with every word he says. As he takes the poison Juliet begins to wake and they share a moment of sheer disbelief before he dies. Juliet then realises what has happened and takes the gun out of its holder. She does not say much as she does this, few words are needed to explain her actions. She shoots herself, falling over Romeo in a last display of affection. The families decide on finding the lovers dead that the feud has gone on long enough, Capulet and Montague shake hands and the families find themselves at peace. The two die with each other, for each other. It is the ultimate gift or sacrifice that can be made for the one you love. I don't know how relevant the story would be today even though the lovers are immortalised in words and film. The age of Romeo and Juliet does give me doubts about the strength of the bonds and the love between the two in the early scenes of the play. However as the feelings deepen and the actions become more irrational, I realise that they are definitely in love. Their relationship is honest, equal and true. I don't know how many people would say nowadays that they would die for their partner, but we must remember this tragedy is fictional; it was written in a much simpler world. Whichever way I look at it though, Romeo and Juliet are the original lovers and will be so until love itself dies. English G.C.S.E Course Work. Amy-Marie Brown l5k ...read more.

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