William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

(3185 words)

Romeo and Juliet has become familiar to the point of cliche; an icon of romantic love. But when the play was first performed, c.1594-6, it would have been a bold and surprising interpretation of tragedy. Tragedy conventionally focused on the fall of great and powerful men (think of Shakespeare's best known tragic heroes: Hamlet, Othello, Lear, Macbeth) while romance was the stuff of comedy, but in Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare made two teenage lovers and the domestic quarrels that surrounded them the focus for tragedy. In so doing he explored the fraught interplay of family relations, desire, clandestine marriage, loyalty, violence, ritual, and the role of servants and clerics. For Romeo and Juliet is not the simple p…

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Roberts, Sasha. "Romeo and Juliet". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 June 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=2326, accessed 28 September 2016.]