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But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun...
These are the opening lines of the most romantic scene ever written in the history of mankind. The balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet.
Who hasn´t heard of this play and this magical scene? It´s fueled the imagination of novelists, poets, lyricists and film directors, but the true power of it all lies in William Shakespeare´s words.
When I was in high school, only 14, I was told that we would be studying Romeo and Juliet. Well, to be frank, at 14, Shakespeare isn´t exactly your cup of tea, so I figured this was gonna be a boring old tale, and worse, in old English. Was I in for a surprise.
By the time the school year was over, I had read the play at least 50 times (I´m not joking!) I was moved by it´s every scene and by the purity of the emotions which flow in every scene...
So right now, I´d like to share a brief review of some of my favorite scenes from the play. (According to order of my preference, this does not reflect the order of events in the play.)
1.The balcony scene
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name,
Or if thou wilt not,
Be but sworn my love,
And I´ll no longer be a Capulet...
This scene is wonderfully romantic and refreshing in its purity and sincerity. Romeo and Juliet are both very young (about 16 and 14 respectively), but their feelings for each other are very real. At no moment do they seem out of place, and there isn´t an ounce of artificiality about them. As the two exchange vows of love, they are ever conscious of the danger that lies around them, and of the absurdity of their parents´ hatred.
¨A rose by any other name would smell as sweet¨ well illustrates that a human remains what he is irrespective of social identity and such barriers are placed only by society...
Juliet has the most honest attitude possible in one who is in love as she says:
¨My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
The more I give to thee, the more I have,
for both are infinite...¨
I´ve seen various versions of this scene in films, and read similar things in books, but somehow they never live up to the beauty of this scene. Give it a try, for all of you romantics who have never read this. Find a copy of the original play, choose a quiet spot and read away... you´ll see what I mean, and how you feel cut off from the worst this world can hold to the best it has to offer...
2.The banquet scene (Meeting of Romeo and Juliet)
This lovely sonnet takes place at ball given by Capulet...
Romeo and Juliet see each other for the first time, and it is love at first sight. Strangely, the scene has never seemed unrealistic to me, in spite of the rapidity with which they fall in love. The gentle flirting that takes place takes on another dimension as Romeo places Juliet on a pedestal, viewing her as his goddess.
The move not while my prayer's effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purg´d.
The have my lips the sin that they have took.
Sin from my lips? O trespass sweetly urg´d!
Give me my sin again.
3.The morning after the wedding night.
This is probably one of the saddest scenes of the play other than the actual deaths of the two lovers.
Their pain is evident, as is their reluctance at being separated.
Juliet.: Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day: It was the nightingale, and not the lark.
She wishes her words were true, but they are both aware of reality. When you read this scene, you can feel their sorrow, and by the time you reach the end of the play, the scene takes even more significance: this is the last time Romeo and Juliet see each other alive.
4.The crypt (The double suicides)
This scene is another extremely well known one, as the two lovers finally meet in death. As Romeo comes to find his Juliet with the firm belief that she is dead, his despair is evident, especially in the scene where he kills Paris. I have always considered that it was significant that Shakespeare included this scene, though it is often omitted in cinema and television productions of the play. Romeo is no cold-blooded killer, but by killing Paris, he illustrates to what extent he is desperate to join Juliet, and how little he values his own life now that she is gone. His gesture of fulfilling Paris´s dying wish is also very meaningful, as he accepts to lay him next to Juliet, his wife, his love.
The rest of the scene is tragedy at its best and most sorrowful. Romeo dies just instants before Juliet wakes up and Friar Lawrence enters, and Juliet is left to grieve her lost love. Like Romeo, she shows an almost scary despair and determination that nothing will stop her from joining her Romeo:
Juliet: O happy dagger! This is thy sheath. There rest and let me die.
The families reconciliation after this, comes only as a bitter reminder of human nature: corrective measures are only taken when things come to their worst....
And here you have it, the world´s greatest love story. I have never stopped loving this book, and since the time I studied it, I´ve read it and re-read it countless times. But I never tire of the beauty, love and tragedy in the lines of that play. Try it, and maybe you too will discover something wonderful...
For there never was a tale of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo...
Thus go the closing lines of the play... but with the consolation, I believe, that there never was a tale of more love, which lives on beyond the boundaries of death....
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