5 Fascinating facts about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
I have to admit reading a Shakespeare play in high school was a daunting task, primarily because it wasn’t the language that I grew up with-it was a foreign language. Or was it? The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare, he invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words together, adding prefixes and suffixes and devising words wholly original. English was not my best subject.
Putting grammar aside here are 5 fascinating facts about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet, an enduring love story about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. A plot from an actual Italian tale is believed that the feuding families were from Verona, Italy.
1. Shakespeare loved to dramatize his stories and he did so with Romeo and Juliet. He made Juliet several years younger than Romeo; she was a young girl of thirteen years old. What was Shakespeare thinking of? It’s even more unsettling to the modern audience- I’m going to speculate and announce that Shakespeare was a mastermind of power peddling, after all getting attention is an art itself
2. Shakespeare’s likely sources for the story came from other authors, namely Giulietta e Romeo-a novella by the Italian author Matteo Bandello, writtenin1554.
3. “Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo?” is the play’s most famous line but it’s not what we all think it means. Juliet is asking ‘why” art thou Romeo and not ‘where’ art thou Romeo making us think was the problem Romeo and not his last name, the Montages.
4. The legendary balcony scene where Juliet awaits her Romeo probably never even took place. Elizabethan England didn’t know what a balcony was until later in time until then it was foreign or exotic design.
5. Each year Valentine’s are written to Juliet by the thousands in Verona, Italy, the home of Romeo and Juliet.
William Shakespeare- we’re still talking about you! And it’s the very reason why I’ve decided to dedicate my time to produce visual contents depicting some of Shakespeare’s more popular writings.
Below you’ll find my creative take on Juliet, the final moments before her death. It’s the first painting to my "Shakespeare-A Work of Art " collection and the first of my struggles.
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TITLE: "The Torch Doth Not Burn Tonight"
Medium: Oil Paint on Canvas, Cold Wax, Swarovski crystals, gold leaf
Dimensions: 48' x 36'
"For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo."
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a tragic story about revenge, love and death-a classic love story that’s been told and retold to every generation since first hitting the stage in 1594.
In this painting I set the tone of the scene, Juliet’s final moments of life. We can begin with Juliet’s position in this painting-here she unknowingly reads the storybook “Romeo and Juliet” and learns of her fate and with this she resolves to take her own life “Then I’ll be brief. O happy dagger, This is thy sheath. There rust and let me die.” The book -a symbol of her reality was added reinforcing that this story is her story and Juliet continues to read discovering her tragic destiny. She shows the beginnings of increasing self-possession and confidence that ultimately lead her to seek her own fate rather than a destiny imposed upon her by her parents or what seems to be.
Moving along the painting you can find other symbols representing the tragic aftermath of Juliet’s dying moment. The withered roses left on the side were once buoyant in vibrant colour and unconscious love, are now left on the ground lifeless-a sign of mourning. Juliet compared Romeo to a rose and that if a rose were given another name; it would still be a rose in its essence.
Candles were added to represent energy and light but not for long. These are the same candles that symbolized elemental magic-a source of creation and the burnt out candles now show that Juliet has passed on to the spirit realm.
A cross bar was placed next to Juliet, showing her character as having a life of her own just as Shakespeare had intended. In this painting Juliet is portrayed as Shakespeare’s marionette, she’s become a visual metaphor for his ideas and she exists as an independent soul. Shakespeare never sidelined his female characters even in a time when women were not allowed to perform on stage.
Romeo and Juliet a universal piece of work-his exploration of the human condition makes his works timeless and I’ve added a time machine to the painting to symbolize this matter.
This machine is a hypothetical symbolic device permitting Shakespeare’s characters and stories to travel into the future.
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