I first read this play when I was in the 7th grade, around the time when the film version with Leonardo DiCaprio came out. All the girls in my class—including myself—were swooning, all wanting to be Leo’s Juliet. ;) I just loved all of that emotion in his performance…and that final scene…oh! I remember yelling at the screen, “Look at her hand! She’s alive!” Oh, I was devastated. ;)
Looking at the play now, that romance between Juliet and her Romeo is almost amusing, especially when comparing it to the majority of those young adult novels coming out now. Nearly 500 years later, that same plot still has significant relevance today—it’s amazing. Certainly the prose can’t compare, but the emotional content is definitely the same. The secrecy and melodrama, love at first sight, all of the teenage angst, the all or nothing thinking and that all important ingredient of “forbidden love”—can be traced back here! ;) The play still reads like an emotional rollercoaster, with sudden shifts in feelings…the highs and lows of romance, leading to that dramatic and fateful conclusion.
Romeo is certainly not the dashing lover my 12 and 14 year old self thought him to be. His emotional consistency could be likened to the wind, constantly shifting from one way to the next, from one Capulet (Rosaline) to the next (Juliet). But his magnetism lies in his rhetoric—the boy certainly does have a way with words, evoking so much pathos and beauty, though given his age and the circumstances, it does lack emotional depth. The same could be said for Juliet in this whirlwind romance. Yet, this classic drama still has the magnetic pull that draws you in no matter when you reread it and how many years have passed in between readings. Yep, I still love it. :)