Sunday, August 5, 2012

Romeo and Juliet

Bibliographic Information: Shakespeare, W.  (2011).  Romeo and Juliet (The Folger Shakespeare library). New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

Plot Summary: The fair city of Verona has been long terrorized by the ongoing feud between the Capulet and Montague families. The play begins with another scene of violence as servants of the Montague and Capulet families come head to head in yet another scuffle. Sick of the constant violence, the Prince vows to put the next violator to death.  

Elsewhere Benvolio, a cousin of the Montagues, runs into Romeo and asks him why he is so depressed. Romeo finally shares that she is in love with a girl named Rosaline that does not share his feelings. Both Benvolio and Romeo come across a Capulet servant with invitations to a Capulet feast. Benvolio then talks Romeo into going to the feast of their enemies, in order to get over Rosaline. Romeo at first refuses but then agrees.

Meanwhile, Juliet's father is arranging a big ball in which Paris will propose to his daughter (even though she is only 13). Juliet's father has decided that she must become engaged but will hold off on actually marrying her off for another two years.  It is during this feast that Romeo lays eyes upon Juliet, forgetting all about Rosaline. Romeo, at the time, does not realize that Juliet is a Capulet and pursues her.  It is not until Romeo has departed that they both realize the truth about each other's lineage. Romeo, unable to leave, returns and exchanges love vows with Juliet quickly complicating their lives

These vows set a whole mess of events into motion, in which the two fair lovers are secretly married, but cannot be together due to a grievous mistake by Romeo. The story crescendo's in an irreversible miscommunication that seals the fate of both Romeo and Juliet. At the end, both the Capulet and Montague family realize too late that they must change their warring ways or risk having no future at all.

Critical Evaluation: William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet plays on the central theme of "only fools rush in."  Every character can be seen making decisions without ever thinking through the consequences from the first scene where the Capulet and Montague servants are seen fighting for the sake of the feud until the ending scene, where Romeo makes his tragic decision without thinking of its permanent consequences. The entire city of Verona is overwrought by badly made decisions that force a series of events that end terribly.

Juliet's downfall can also be attributed to both her young age and also to her father's need to see her carefully squared away in a planned marriage. His direct, and thoughtless, actions force Juliet to search for an exit out- an exit that Romeo offers. Juliet, in this way, may have confused the sense of relief and happiness for new love for Romeo. She may have accepted Romeo's offer because to her, anything was better than being forced into a marriage with Paris. Similarly, Romeo can be seen making questionable decisions as he almost instantly forgets about Rosaline, the girl he previously spent so much time obsessing over. Overall, Shakespeare did not give a single character in
Romeo and Juliet the ability to reason and carefully decide what is best. Instead Shakespeare created a world of chaos, in which everything depends on hasty terrible decision after terrible decision.

Reader’s Annotation:
Two star crossed loves risk everything to be together, even life.
Information About the Author: Experts speculate that William Shakespeare was born circa April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, due to his baptism being on April 26, 1564 (, 2012). Though his plays are popular throughout the whole world not much is known about his personal life (, 2012). Shakespeare came from a family of six children, being third eldest (, 2012). No one knows whether or not Shakespeare was educated as a child, some even question if he ever existed (, 2012).

At the age of 18, Shakespeare married 26 year old Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582 (, 2012). They had their first child shortly thereafter and twins 2 years later, only two of these children lived past childhood (, 2012). Many are unclear about what occurred in the seven years after the twins were born and call these the "lost years" (, 2012). Shakespeare then appeared on London's theatrical scene in the 1590's (, 2012). By 1597, Shakespeare had established himself having written 17 of the 35 plays he is known for (, 2012). By 1599, Shakespeare and a business partner had built the popular theater, the Globe (, 2012). Shakespeare is said to have died on his birthday (April 23) in 1616.

Shakespeare also wrote the plays (in no particular order): A Midsummer's Night Dream, Merchant of Venice, Henry IV (Part I and II), As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, and many others (, 2012).

Romeo and Juliet - Animated Summary

Genre: Historical, Romance

Curriculum Ties: Could tie into a lesson on Shakespearean plays and classic literature.

Booktalking Ideas:

Reading Level/Interest Age: YA (Follett's Titlewave, 2012)

Challenge Issues: Does contain violence, sexual themes, and suicide. I would use the following items to defend this book if it was challenged:

1) Refer to Library Bill of Rights, see items: I, II, and III (
2) Refer to San Diego Public Library collection policy - (  Original site: The American Library Association (ALA) Freedom to Read/View Statement (
3) Refer to California School Library Association (CSLA), Model School Library Standards - September 2010 ( PDF: (
4) Refer t0 American Association for School, Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner (
5) Contact Office of Intellectual Freedom for any further support, 800-545-2433, ext. 4223 or
6) Refer to legitimate book reviews, such as: School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book and others; found on either Academic Search Premier, Follett's TITLEWAVE, or

Why did you include this play in the titles you selected?:
I included Romeo and Juliet in my collection because I thought it was crucial to include at least one of William Shakespeare's classic plays. I also think teens will be able to identify with some of the play's themes of love, heartbreak, and the inability to move on.

Reference Page:  (2012).  William Shakespeare's biography. Retrieved August 5, 2012 from

Follett's Titlewave.  (2012).  Romeo and Juliet.  Retrieved August 5, 2012 from Follett's Titlewave iPhone app. 

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