The interpretation of Romeo and Juliet within the society of today can be considered within a multitude of varying viewpoints. The technology that we currently use today is generally more enhanced in comparison to the seventeenth century, providing greater quality forms of entertainment such as television and radio. Various television programs and movies strive to deliver the same purpose and meaning that Romeo and Juliet provided in 1604, but in a much more efficient manner. There are soap operas, dramas and even multimillion-pound movies that demonstrate equal content, similar to that which Romeo and Juliet provides.
There are a myriad of explanations that do not consolidate the relativity of Romeo and Juliet in this current era, one of the most frequent issues being the style of language. The author of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare, constructed this play to withhold deeper meanings of human emotions â€“ possibly a form of allegory. The atmosphere of the ‘surface’ of the play appears in some cases to be contrary to the morals that must be learned through the same scene. If an understanding of a scene is very little to an individual, then these morals are simply overlooked or disregarded. In addition to this, the style of language used in the play is of a more intellectual nature. Many youths may not understand even the basis of the events of the play as it is of a poetic nature; the prologue is an example of this.Order now
The prologue is written in the form of a sonnet and contains an insight of the background that the play consists of, informing the audience about opening situation of the play. Not only does the prologue set the scene of Romeo and Juliet, it tells the audience exactly what will occur throughout the plight of the play. Phrases in the prologue such as ‘Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean’ may not be recognised or identified by the audience as significant and is a major aspect of the play, as it is elaborated near the climax. In some cases, the play has been adapted in order to suit the demands of the entertainment industry present.
Although some of the issues in Romeo and Juliet are outdated, they can still be closely related to current situations in the world today. Further issues supporting the fact that the play is of little relevance today is its association with a ‘clichÃ©’ storyline. Some people believe that we will or already have tired from repeatedly observing these types of storylines, however a few individuals may forget that some of the most beloved stories today use repetitive plots all the time. One example of this is ‘Eastenders’ â€“ The television soap that constantly relies on consistent affairs and daily events that occur to us and are present in almost all of our lives. It develops similar storylines of love and tragedy just like Romeo and Juliet.
The result of entertainment today utilising the same ideals as Romeo and Juliet should in theory indicate that it could be distinguished within the technological age as a relevance to society today. Events such as riots between families or mobs occur throughout the entire human civilisation, resulting in similar outcomes of death or brutality. All forms of entertainment thrive upon the similar motives as Romeo and Juliet and can be confirmed when observing the main events of Romeo and Juliet.
“Noise! Then I’ll be brief. What luck â€“ a dagger! This is your holder. Rest there and let me die.”
This quote, spoken by Juliet, adds the factor of a brutal murder to the play of which is present in the world of the 21st century. Suicide is a serious issue and the aftermath of tragedies such as these is demonstrated perfectly by the deaths of both Romeo and Juliet in this play.
Sentences within Romeo and Juliet such as ‘draw if you be men’ proposes a sense of action, which is what makes many modern day films exciting e.g. The Matrix, The Terminator etc.. The only drawback with this statement, however, is the fact that Romeo and Juliet uses Old English, making it less appealing to simple minds in this age. The language style of Romeo and Juliet seems to be passive and therefore ‘drains’ away the anticipation of particular events. Examples of these occurrences are lines such as in Act 3:
‘I think I see you, as you are now, but like a dead person in the bottom of a tomb.’
If a less subtle approach had been taken, such as ‘Die! I shall inflict pain so fatally wounding that you shall be consumed in a tomb of ultimate torture’ the excitement would appeal greater to the young audience of today rather than how it is currently constructed. As an outcome to this problem, there have been modernised versions of Romeo and Juliet released, achieving the atmosphere of a more hands on approach.
Additional events in Romeo and Juliet such as the secret meetings of the two ‘star-cross’d lovers’ are considered to be thrilling storylines today, as does the art of suicide. Death, whenever used in entertainment, is an extremely manipulative aspect of humanity and must be capitalised on within any successful storyline or plot. The alteration of an individual’s emotional composure will inevitably result in a convincing or satisfying experience – which is mainly the true purpose of entertainment.
Another factor that may help suggest that Romeo and Juliet may be relevant to young audiences today would be to find modern parallels to certain aspects of the play for educational purposes. One modern parallel in comparison to Romeo and Juliet could be the real life crisis that occurred throughout Ireland between Catholics and Protestants â€“ two arguing religions. A civil war had been unleashed and the rivalry between these two religions still vaguely remains today. This factor may prove that Romeo and Juliet is relevant to the youth of today, but to more of a historic purpose. The civil war in Ireland can be compared to the civil war caused by the ‘ancient grudge’ in Romeo and Juliet.
The two different religions in the civil war could represent the situations of the two disputing families of the Montagues and the Capulets. One insightful moral to Shakespeare’s play was that unresolved quarrels would eventually result in the worst possible outcome â€“ death. Therefore, ancient grudges should not be passed on through generations, especially if there is no particular reason to fight. The younger generation must acknowledge this point in order to stop widespread war and to not repeat history.
In a psychological aspect, Romeo and Juliet portrays all of the human emotions that we feel today. Issues such as family disputes and teenage fantasies are common within our society as it was in 1604. When bearing in mind that since the dawn of humanity, humans have always had the same emotions of love, lust, hate, appreciation and jealousy, we can understand that every person is compelled by the involvement of these feelings. The events in Romeo and Juliet apply to each of these emotions making it successful â€“ disregardful of any time barrier.
If Romeo and Juliet were to be performed in the same environment as in 1604, it would make no impact upon today’s society. The theatrical market in the 17th century was an extremely profitable and wealthy business, being the height of entertainment. Today, however, the art of live entertainment in theatre is almost dead and is not a social activity as it formally was. The concept of Romeo and Juliet however, has already been of a great success in the Hollywood movie industry. There have been remakes of Romeo and Juliet both for educational purposes in Old English and for leisure in the modern day tongue. In addition to this, many more of Shakespeare’s works have generated vast profits â€“ far greater than any theatre in the Tudor Times.
In conclusion to the issue of whether Romeo and Juliet is relevant to the youth of today in relation to the era of the 17th century, I would make an educated assumption that it would make a significant impact upon society today. However, the impact made by Romeo and Juliet in the modern day would be relevant to youths in a different context as it was in 1604. The society of 1604 had different issues and problems compared to the dilemmas we currently face in the 21st century, therefore Romeo and Juliet would be relevant to the youth of today in a different form.
The 17th century was renowned for honourable duels and deaths, but Romeo and Juliet identified a wider and more drastic objective â€“ the enlightenment of the fact that quarrelling families should reunite as one. Yet, today we can learn from Romeo and Juliet about smaller issues, as the majority of the vital issues from the 17th century have already been solved in developed civilised countries such as England. One of the morals we can learn from is that co-operation and the support of our friends is a gift we must cherish, as Mercutio taught Romeo when he innocently died at the hands of Romeo’s enemy Tybalt. When considering the morals that the play can teach younger generations, whether it is for educational purposes or for recreational enjoyment, Romeo and Juliet contains the relevant content to be established and appreciated immensely within the youth of today.