Romeo and Juliet


I’m in the middle of a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet—very popular this year with the re-mount of it on Broadway last fall starring Orlando Bloom as Romeo.  It got bad reviews and closed, but still, Orlando Bloom as Romeo?  I’d take some of that action. J

So as I’ve been working on the show, I’ve also been contemplating how many romances have used the “star-crossed lovers” theme.  There have been a lot of movies with this theme, including West Side Story, Romeo Must Die, Gnomio and Juliet, and Warm Bodies.

And of course my favorite contemporary Romeo & JulietTwilight.  As soon as my daughter described the story to me I thought “Romeo & Juliet with vampires.”  This could be one reason why the series did so well.  What teenage girl doesn’t think Romeo and Juliet romantic?

Although, technically it’s not a romance, is it?  The cardinal rule of romance is it must have an HEA.  R & J most definitely does not.  Yet we think of their love and strife as a pinnacle of romance that we wish to experience again and again.

After I had written Time Enough to Love, my medieval novel, I was at a writer’s conference and in one of the workshops the speaker said we should take iconic storylines and use them in our work.  So I started thinking about my book and after taking into consideration certain scenes, I came to the realization that I had taken elements of Romeo & Juliet in my book.  If you’ve read Betrothal or Betrayal, you can probably see Geoffrey and Alyse as star-crossed lovers, but it becomes more apparent in the third part, Beleaguered.  It was unconscious—I never thought about how the stories were similar until months later at the conference. But I think it gives the book an additional layer for the reader to identify with.

Do you have a favorite Romeo & Juliet adaptation in either book or movie?  Have you used the star-crossed lovers theme in one of your works?

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14 Responses to Romeo and Juliet

  1. My Favorite would probably be the original Romeo and Juliet, although I have to admit I did get caught up in the Twilight Saga. A new twist on an old theme is always good.

    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      My absolute favorite is Zefferelli’s version. Beautifully done, star-studded cast and R & J are (or at least looked like) teenagers. And yes, a fresh take is always good. I have, however, drawn the line at Gnomio and Juliet. LOL

  2. I love any story with star crossed lovers, after all if it
    s so easy for them to get together, not much of a story. My personal favorite is Wuthering Heights.

    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      Yes, that story line is great for putting conflict into the plot. Because your’re right, if it’s easy for them to get together, there’s no story. Thanks for coming by!

  3. Hmm, you’ve given me something to think about. Tweeted and shared on FB!

  4. melissakeir says:

    I also love the Zefferelli version and own it on DVD. But I love West Side Story just as much. They add music and show the barriers of race in a town and place that segregated the lovers as much as the historical past. 🙂 Gives me a pause to wonder! What about Cinderella? He’s rich, she isn’t…

    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      I think there are seeds of the R & J plot in a lot of stories we don’t usually associate with R & J. Like you said, Cinderella has these elements of class difference and a wicked stepmother trying to keep them apart. As always, it’s what you do with the plot, the different spin you put on the characters, that makes it uniquely yours.

  5. Daryl Devore says:

    One of my favourite stories of all time – Romeo and Juliet – and I agree – Orlando Bloom as Romeo!!

  6. I am such a sap for a happy ending that Romeo & Juliet was never my favorite story. I’ve done it in the theatre, however (when I was a lot younger), and it definitely is emotionally compelling for both the actors and the audience. I like your insights here, Jenna. You always provide something to think about.

  7. fionamcgier says:

    “Warm Bodies” is my favorite new adaption of R and J. I sub in high schools and when freshmen are reading the play they tell me it’s boring and old. I ask who has seen “Warm Bodies”, and the girls all wave their arms, sighing at how gosh-darned cute the guy is who plays “R”. I ask them if the balcony scene reminded them of anything…and what was the heroine’s name? Julia? So what if “R” starts out the movie as a brain-eating zombie? His heart grows back when he falls in love. It’s a good adaption of the age-old story of forbidden love, only this time there’s a happy ending! Trust me, it’s a very cute movie!
    When I’ve had my own classes, I offered students the choice between writing me an essay on some theme in R and J, OR rewriting the story using the important elements. I had one kid write me a love story between baseball fans at Chicago’s Cross-Town series, when it rained so the SOX face paint got washed off HIS face, and she threw on a jacket over her CUBS tee shirt. They shouldn’t have fallen in love, but they did! Another wrote a cute love story about a fox who falls in love with a bunny he’s supposed to catch for his family’s dinner. A few Muslim girls wrote about falling in love with non-Muslim guys and the repercussions on their families. Kids can be so creative, and what better way to show they truly understand the important elements of a story, than to have them create their own story using those elements?

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