Still Great Lovers

Essay by BasmaneHigh School, 11th gradeB-, March 2004

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The world's most enduring love story, Romeo and Juliet, continues to have as much relevance for a modern day audience as it did in Shakespeare's time. It is a masterpiece of lyric poetry. The story of star-crossed lovers, whose struggle for love and happiness in spite of familial opposition ends in senseless death, has been called the greatest work of romantic story ever written.

Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare most probably in 1594 or 1595. During much of the twentieth century, critics tended to disparage this play in comparison to the four great tragedies that Shakespeare wrote in the early of the seventeenth century (Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello). Romeo and Juliet appears to lack the psychological depth and the structural complexity of Shakespeare's later tragedies. But over the past thirty years or so, many scholars have altered this assessment, effectively upgrading its status within Shakespeare's canon.

They have done this by discarding comparative evaluation and judging Romeo and Juliet as a work of art in its own right.

Viewed from this fresh perspective, Shakespeare's tragic drama of the "star-crossed" young lovers is seen to be an extraordinary work. Romeo and Juliet was an experimental stage piece at the time of its composition. Shakespeare's play explores issues through its contrast of themes such as youth and age, life and death, joy and sadness, and passion and control. What emerges from this analysis is a mix of messages and themes to do with human relationships.

Love, which is a major theme in Romeo and Juliet, is explored in a variety of ways. Shakespeare makes it clear that it's only true love that is worth pursuing. In sharp contrast to the theme of love, hate also features strongly in the play as its violent consequences and damaging...