1. The tragedy “Romeo and Juliet“ at a glance
1.2 Personal constellation
1.4.1 The original tragedy
1.4.2 In the Film
2. Analysis of two key-scenes, comparison between the Book and the Film
2.1 Scene 1 “love“ (Act 1, scene 5)
2.1.2 Comparison of the two stagings
2.1.3 Use and importance of language
2.1.4 Message of the scene about the tragedy in general
2.2 Scene 2 “perspective“ (Act 5, scene 3)
2.2.2 Comparison of the two stagings
2.2.3 Perspectives of the protagonists
3. Interpretation of the selected scenes, conclusion
3.2 Current reference
3.3 Conclusion / Epilogue
4. List of literature
1. The tragedy “Romeo and Juliet“ at a glance
“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?“ -
This quote might be the most famous one from the love story of Romeo and Juliet. It is known by many people around the globe and translated into various languages. It is also known, that the tragedy deals with the ideal of true love and attends to the contact with insurmountable disparities
Down to the present day they are numerous variations of the original plot, for instance in ballet, classic theatre or movies. The tragedy´s popularity is not deniable, and wittingly or unwittingly the story seems familiar to almost every reader or viewer. This has the cause that in almost everybody´s life there is or was at least one point, where most of the people can relate their personal love-fate to this of Romeo´s and Juliet´s; A loving couple separated by the hate-filled relationship of their families. At that point, it is nonessential if the separating barrier is represented by parental home, origin, social class, religion, or financial background. Due to this, Romeo and Juliet still is of current interest and affects readers emotionally even centuries after its publishing. This is, for me personally, fascinating, and I want to research into the play to understand Shakespeare´s way of thinking and intentions as well as to explore the limitations and possibilities when it comes to transfer this demanding work by Shakespeare into twenty-first century scenarios.
In the following comparative study I want to take a scientific approach to decode the subtext of the plot and its complexities implemented in the tragedy as well as of the language Shakespeare uses. Along with that I will also lay the focus on modern interpretations and compare it to the original tragedy to analyze the different approaches that are made to understand the greater meaning of Shakespeare and to proof its topicality.
In order to do this, I consider the similarities and differences from the original tragedy “Romeo and Juliet“ by William Shakespeare, 1597 and the modern cinematization from Baz Luhrmann “William Shakespeare´s Romeo + Juliet“ from 1996, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.
The best way of comparison is to analyze two different key-scenes by reference to their leitmotifs.
The first scene for my analysis (act 1, scene 5) is about Romeo and Juliet meeting for the very first time and falling in love at first sight.
The second scene (act 5, scene 3) is the ending sequence which is about Romeo´s and Juliet´s death.
Before going into detailed analysis I will summarize the plot and outline the stagings, followed by a current reference to discuss the matter in detail. I will now characterize the essential characters and than demonstrate their personal constellation.
1.2 Personal constellation
Escales is the Prince of Verona. He gives the law a voice and looks after legal regulations to maintain a settled society. This task is already shown in his name. Escalus comes from “scale“, which means balance or in this case justice (Justitia the statue holds a scale in her hands, representing the law).
Escales only appears three times after major events, which are caused by the enmity of the two rival families, the Capulets and the Montagues.
Although he must be impartial, he has relatives in both families, Mercutio and Paris.
Friar Lawrence is a friar of the Order of Saint Francis, who precipitates the tragedy, because of his unsuccessful plan, which however emerged out of good intentions.
THE MONTAGUE FAMILY AND DEPENDANTS
Montague and Lady Montague are Romeo´s parents and the head of the Montague family. The name Montague suggest that it comes from “Mount“. This represents the family´s dignity and fortitude.
They are active rivals with the Capulets.
Romeo is the only son of the Montagues. His name gives the reader the association with “romance“. Romeo reforms his character drastically in the tragedy when he meets Juliet, therefore he is a dynamic character. This becomes apparent not only in his behavior, but also in his language, which I will focus later on.
Benvolio is Romeo´s cousin and friend whose name means goodwill or benevolence. This implies his role as a peacemaker. He is also a nephew of Montague.
Mercutio is also a friend of Romeo. His name indicates his dominant characteristic, mercurial. On the on hand he is a party-guy, whose vitality is conspicuous in his actions and his language, but on the other hand he is also the most furious character in the play. His fight with Tybalt changes the pathway of every other character.
Balthasar, a faithful servant of Romeo.
Rosaline is the first love of Romeo. She never appears, but she is talked about multiple times.
THE CAPULET FAMILY AND DEPENDANTS
Capulet and Lady Capulet are the parents of Juliet and the leaders of the Capulet family. The name suggest “captain“, a leader.
They are doubtful, if Juliet should marry Paris, the count of the city. The father is furious and does not accept disobedience. The relationship to their only daughter is impersonal.
Juliet the daughter of the Capulets is a submissive 13-year-old girl, who has a cordial relationship to her nurse rather than her mother.
Her name suggest “jewel“, which has the characteristics of being rare and precious as well as purity which in the figurative sense means innocence.
Tybalt is Juliet´s cousin and is very proud of their family honor.
He is a fashion-consciousness, sophisticated member of the family, who obtains certain fight etiquettes and hates the Montague family.
Juliet´s Nurse has a necessary role in the play. She acts as an arbiter between Romeo and Juliet. She is a tender, down-to-earth women, who breast fed Juliet as a baby and has a stronger and more intimate relationship to her than her mother.
Paris, a handsome and wealthy count, who asks for Juliet´s hand.
Juliet´s parents think that he is an ideal spouse for her. Paris is also a relative of Prince Escales.
Gregory and Sampson, two pompously servants of the Capulets.
The tragedy lasts five days, from Sunday to Thursday in the middle of July. It takes place in Verona and Mantua, two cities in the north of Italy and opens with a prologue in a form of a sonnet used as an introduction. It contains important information to explain the current situation in Verona. Furthermore it already gives us the information that the two lovers Romeo and Juliet perish, because of the parent´s feud.
A fight between Capulets and Montagues opens the scene. Sampson and Gregory, two servants of the house of Capulet provoke two servants of the Montagues. Benvolio tries to terminate the fight, but Tybalt attacks him. Prince Escales intervenes to stop them.
Montague and his wife worry about Romeo´s behavior. He sets against his parents and tells Benvolio about his lovesickness for a girl, named Rosaline. Romeo is presented as a melancholiac adolescent who seals himself off from society.
Meanwhile Count Paris asks for Juliet´s hand. Capulet worries about her being to young, so Paris wants to woo for Juliet himself. That is why he is invited to the Capulet´s feast.
Romeo and Benvolio get the chance to sneak in the feast, which is a masquerade. The motivation behind Benvolio´s idea is that Rosaline is also an invitee and he wants Romeo to forget about her.
Lady Capulet has a serious conversation with her daughter joined by the Nurse about the proposal of Paris.
In the meantime Mercutio also tries to persuade Romeo of going to the masquerade, but Romeo negates concerning a nasty dream he had with deadly predictions. Mercutio mocks him for his dream and fear. Nevertheless Romeo agrees to go to the feast.
At Capulet´s house people are dancing, while Romeo sees Juliet for the very first time and instantaneously falls in love with her. Juliet´s cousin Tybalt recognizes him as a foe and wants to assault him but gets restrained by Capulet, because he does not want a fight to happen in his mansion.
Romeo talks to Juliet in a religious elevated language pattern, Juliet does it as well. They have their first kiss, but get separated soon, because Romeo has to leave.
Juliet asks the Nurse about the origin of Romeo and is shattered.
On their way home, Romeo turns and runs away from his friends, who are joking about him and Rosaline. He jumps over a wall into Capulet´s garden to look for Juliet while his friends leave.
Juliet soliloquizes about her new love on her balcony, unaware that Romeo is listening. After he reveals his identity they kiss and want to marry. After Romeo confirms his love by oath, they arrange the Nurse to act as an arbiter for them.
Romeo asks Friar Lawrence to marry him and Juliet. Although he has considered doubts, since Romeo rapidly changed his love, he agrees to the marriage, because he hopes that the rival families are profoundly touched and as a result conclude peace.
Mercutio and Benvolio talk about that Tybalt has challenged Romeo as an act of revenge for sneaking into his family´s party. Romeo joins in the conversation when the Nurse arrives to determine time and date of the wedding with Juliet. When she gets back she also tells Juliet about it.
Friar Lawrence marries the two lovers without the knowledge of the leaders of the households.
Tybalt dares Romeo to fight, he refuses and Tybalt gets outraged, draws his sword and attacks Romeo. Mercutio defends the non-opposing Romeo and gets killed by Tybalt. This causes Romeo to get beyond control, and he kills Tybalt.
Benvolio depicts the occurrence to Prince Escales, whose relative Mercutio died. He banishes Romeo from Verona.
Juliet waits for Romeo when the Nurse tells her the bad news. The Nurse also visits Romeo, who is at Friar Lawrence, weeping. They arrange the plan to visit Juliet for the night and go to Mantua, a suburb of Verona, the next day to disappear until the situation simmers down again.
While Romeo visits Juliet to seal the marriage in her room, Capulet promises Paris to marry Juliet. Romeo and Juliet get interrupted by the Nurse, warning that Lady Capulet is looking for Juliet. Lady Capulet brings the news of the arranged marriage to her. She does not accept and tells her father. Capulet, outraged by her disobedience, threatens Juliet to hit her as well as to throw her out of the house. Lady Capulet puts the will of her husband, before her daughter´s.
Paris meets Friar Lawrence in the church to arrange the marriage between him and Juliet, when she appears. Paris alludes to his marriage with her and tries to show his affection. Juliet rejects his innuendoes and after Paris left, Juliet threatens to kill herself rather than marry Paris.
Friar Lawrence, forced to act and to reassure her, comes up with the plan to let her take a drug which will make her seemingly dead for 48 hours so the marriage will be canceled and Juliet can live together with Romeo in Mantua. Juliet agrees to his risky plan. To inform Romeo about it, Friar Lawrence sends him a letter to Mantua explaining the procedure.
Afterwards Juliet begs her father and pretends her happiness to marry Paris. As a result Capulet changes the date of the wedding to Wednesday.
Juliet, after contemplating about the hazards, drinks the drug in love for Romeo.