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Romeo and Juliet - How relevant is the story to modern day life?

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Introduction

English Literature Coursework Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare's version of "Romeo and Juliet" is a tragedy telling the tale of the relationship of two "star-crossed" lovers, whom fate has not smiled upon. But written over four hundred years ago, do its concepts, messages, layout and more still remain relevant to audiences around the world today? On one hand, as I just said, the play was written just under half a century ago. Things that were appealing and fashionable at one time do not always remain so into the present day. And yet "Romeo and Juliet" tackles innumerable issues that are happening in many peoples' lives. Love, hate, lies, deceit, lust, teenage life, peer and parental pressure, violence, murder, drug abuse, death, sex and depression are just some of the themes covered in this play. Teenagers right up to the elderly can empathise with many of these topics, and clearly find most of them interesting, certainly judging by the popularity of Soaps and Dramas which include these matters also. Think about it: two men have fallen for thirteen year old Juliet; she marries and loses her virginity to Romeo, the last person her family would approve of, within two days of knowing him. ...read more.

Middle

they both kill themselves. And the whole of the story is spread over a few days, perhaps a week. All in all when you look at the play in that light is sounds perfectly ludicrous, but you can still empathise with it because this is the typical way that teenagers work, if not taken to extremes quite a lot. Perhaps it is for the above outlined reasons that references to Romeo and Juliet are prolific throughout society, television and film. Ask most people the name of a Shakespeare play and they are likely to say Romeo and Juliet, or at least it would be the first title that came to mind. In response to the argument that the play is not relevant because of the old-fashioned language contained within, phrases from Romeo and Juliet are still in use today such as "vexed" and "Parting is such sweet sorrow." Many modernised film versions of Romeo and Juliet have been released also, most prominently Baz Luhrman's production of 'Romeo + Juliet' and the musical (and later film) 'West Side Story', the latter being only loosely based on Shakespeare's play. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are even brands of cigar in existence called 'Romeo y Julieta' (the name of the Spanish version of Romeo and Juliet)! You could say that almost anywhere you turn within popular culture you will find Romeo and Juliet in some form; how many times has the same story of forbidden love been covered? Romeo and Juliet may not have started this, but it has without a doubt been a chief culprit in the existence of many productions covering the topic of forbidden love: Moulin Rouge, Grease, Shakespeare in Love, High School Musical, Romeo Must Die, Valley Girl...the list goes on. It has been studied in schools worldwide for decades; albeit Shakespeare didn't think his play would gain this much recognition and acclaim hundreds of years after he penned it! In conclusion I would have to say that 'Romeo and Juliet' is inherently relevant to a modern day audience; it is indeed hard to find a solid argument why it is irrelevant. Very few, if any productions at all have spawned such a wide range of cultural counterparts than Romeo and Juliet. ?? ?? ?? ?? Zoe Poulton-Jones 11AK 19/04/2009 Page 1 of 2 ...read more.

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