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Romeo & Juliet: The Most Relevant Valentines Of All Time - Part 1

Έγινε ενημέρωση: 18 Σεπ 2022

By Eleftheria Kollia

Another year’s passed and we’re all finding ourselves at the gateway of Saint Valentine’s Day yet again. The annual holiday celebrating love has been a target of criticism by skeptics, who accuse it of exploiting the affectionate strings of the masses for the sake of merchandising, while at the same time it has been the triggering event for many intimate gestures between loved ones as well as for the creation of some beautiful pieces of art throughout history.

Whether or not you’re part of a romantic relationship this year, I hope you keep celebrating with gratitude the many forms of love that surround you, whether that is love for your family, your career, your hobbies, your craft, nature or even yourselves.

While many modern lovebirds are arranging wholesome meetings and outings for the special day, there’s an important homage some of us feel there should be made for the most amaranthine couple of all time. The people of topic are none other than Shakespeare’s famous lovebirds Romeo and Juliet, who continue to inspire both the arts and popular culture. One shouldn’t look further for proof of this than the release of this year’s academy award nominated “West Side Story” reboot by Steven Spielberg – which, in case you didn’t know, is a loose adaptation of Romeo and Juliet featuring the street gangs Jets and Sharks of different ethnic backgrounds as the contemporary Montagues and Capulets respectively. There is an interesting phenomenon surrounding the two Shakespearian heroes which emerges the question why they have remained so popular centuries later by being the most iconic symbol for lovers around the globe.

“Romeo and Juliet” originally premiered in 1597 and drew inspiration from former Italian and English literary works as well as the tradition of “tragic romances” stretching back to antiquity. Therefore, it’s easily deduced that there have been plenty of tragic star crossed lovers in tales and legends of the past. Yet, Romeo and Juliet managed to stand out from the crowd of their fellow fictional couples, leaving their mark on history for their lyrical exchanges, their terrible demise and their deep devotion to one another against the wishes of their opposing families. One thing that should be emphasized at this point is that “Romeo and Juliet” was not intended by our friend William Shakespeare to be perceived as a “romance” or a “love story” but as a “tragedy”.

The focus isn’t how much the two young protagonists form a “dreamy” relationship, rather than the fact that their right to choose each other is robbed by their ancestries. This complex classic Elizabethan play is, among other things, an argument against the phenomenon of vendetta and any other hostile vengeful act enforced in the pedestal of prejudice. Nonetheless, “Romeo and Juliet” still remains a strong love story that continues to enchant and move audiences to this day.

Perhaps the reason for this is the fact that the two lovers are extremely young. One would argue that this clue paints them as rather immature, hasty and “dramatic” in their decisions. This argument is fair, since both of them take some rather ill-advised actions as the story progresses, such as their short-lived courtship before total devotion in marriage or Romeo fighting and ultimately murdering Tybalt to appease his vengeful urge following Mercusio’s death. Still, though, at the time they’re framed in, their age was indeed qualified for starting a family, thus making them somehow “adults” and in that light, victims of the societal predictions of the era which gave them more “liberties” and responsibilities than the ones they could potentially bear.

Putting this troublesome commentary aside, though, the fact that Romeo and Juliet are so young manages to connect audiences with the notion of innocent, pure love. Such love can happen perhaps at any age, but among young people it is more common, since they respond with their instincts and hearts rather than with their rationality. This, though, filters inherent biases against people or circumstances, promotes spontaneity, which in turn makes way for emotional authenticity. Romeo and Juliet fall for one another instantly and they start adoring each other regardless of their ancestries, overlooking anything that potentially makes them enemies and choosing to view the things that bring them close. They’re both dreamers, hopeless romantics, shyly playful and they share a deep desire to find understanding in their conscious or non-conscious hope for peace and acceptance.

To Be Continued...

Read the second part of the artcle here.

Eleftheria Kollia


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