The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

You’ve all heard about this book/play before, and if you haven’t read it yet, sooner or later your teacher will make you read this word-famous play. But don’t dread reading this wonderful work of art. Despite the fact that it’s written in an archaic language and set in a rather alien world, it still remains very relevant today, which is why people are still reading and discussing it to this very day.Image result for romeo and juliet

Romeo and Juliet, as you probably know, is the story of two star-crossed lovers who come from two noble families of Verona, Italy that have had a vendetta for so long that nobody remembers why anymore— and since this is 13th century Italy, and the Renaissance only just started, it’s quite a medieval world, where people often died before 40 and marriage for girls at around 13 was quite common in that part of the world. Romeo is a Montague, which means that his parents are nobles but not as rich as the Capulets, Juliet’s family. What they do have, however, is genuine love, while the Capulets have more than enough family drama to go around. Romeo is passionate and a very eligible bachelor, but also rather impulsive and melodramatic. Juliet is quite smart and beautiful, but has been taught to be passive and agree with her parents her entire life, not thinking for herself. Romeo is “recovering” from being rejected by Rosaline, who was “the love of his life” and “brighter than the sun”, before he spies Juliet at a Capulet masquerade and forgets all about Rosaline. Later that night, Juliet and Romeo confess their love for each other and vow to get married. As you can see, it really is divine love at first sight.

Unfortunately for these two, they have to keep their affair a secret from everybody but the ones they know they can trust. Romeo and Juliet get married not even a day after they first met. But an unfortunate twist of fate leads to Romeo exiled and Juliet’s father forcing her to marry the noble but extremely uninteresting Count Paris, not knowing that she is already the wife of Romeo. Juliet takes great risks to avoid having to marry Count Paris, fooling her parents into thinking that she is dead by drinking a potion, and the plan almost works out, but due to a misunderstanding and an undelivered message, Romeo believes that she is dead, and ends up killing himself. Juliet awakens from her comatose state and sees Romeo’s corpse, and then kills herself too, before the two families arrive at the scene and finally end their feud.

While this story would be more disturbing than sweet if it took place today (a 13-year old and 17-year old getting married hardly a day after they first met, then killing themselves?), it is still very much a very well-written romantic story, and not for nothing is it known to practically all of the literate world. Definitely read The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, and watch one of the many movie adaptations also to see it played out.

-Michael Z.

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

DeathOfASalesman.jpg

Have you ever thought about the future- what you plan to be and how you plan to get there? Well, unfortunately, this book puts a sad twist to the future and paints it in a gloomy way.

Willy Loman, your typical, average man, is down on his luck. He isn’t getting enough salary even though he has been with his company for 35 years, despite his brother in law being in a different company for the same length of time, and somehow is so much richer than him. While his son hates him, Willy sometimes blames it on his son’s laziness, and the other times the fact that his son is working too hard and doesn’t know what he wants.

So what does he do? Well, he’s a traveling salesman, so he sells the only thing he has left. Guess.

There are a couple of things to note about this novel. First, it’s a play, so the dialogue is easy to stand out, and one can know who’s talking. And thankfully, unlike Shakespeare’s plays, this play is only two acts long, which was just over a hundred pages in the copy I had, so it was easy to read.

Second, the theme. I won’t even talk about the fact that the author considers the American Dream fading, or even his interpretation of capitalism. No, I will instead talk about the other characters. Willy’s wife, Linda Loman, is down on her luck too, as although she gives Willy everything, including her undying loyalty no matter what he does, he still treats her without love. The son that hates Willy, Biff, is just a man like us teenagers (except he’s 34) that tries to talk to Willy, but gives up because Willy wouldn’t listen to him. And Willy’s second son, who is often forgotten about by Willy, has to face abandonment issues not only from his father, but from his mother too, in which not even him saying that he was getting married made them happy.

Overall, Miller claims that we all know a Willy Loman, and although his story ends in tragedy, it does not have to be this way for us.

-Megan V, 12th grade

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

I rejoiced when I heard there would be an eighth Harry Potter book as I’m sure the rest of the Harry Potter fandom did.  It definitely delivers the same thrills, adventure, and fun as the other seven.

The story centers around Albus Severus Potter, Harry Potter’s youngest son.  He doesn’t fit in as well at Hogwarts, but finds a friend in Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius.  Albus and Scorpius are both sorted into Slytherin and Albus’s relationship with his father worsens over the years.  Then, everything changes as the pair meet Delphi, Amos Diggory’s niece, and set off to change the past with the help of a Time-Turner and save Cedric Diggory. The rest of the story lies within the book…

This was an interesting read because it isn’t written like a conventional book; it’s written like a script with descriptions of the surroundings, acts and scenes, and the character’s names before their dialogue.  I loved seeing Harry, Ron, and Hermione all grown up with families.  It makes you feel like you’ve grown along with the characters. This book was a great addition to the series and I recommend it to everyone who loves Harry Potter and magical, fantasy adventure books!

-Kaitlyn S.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Othello by William Shakespeare

Image result for othello cover

Let’s get this out of the way: this play is one of Shakespeare’s many tragedies, and as always, everyone dies at the end. I did write about one of Shakespeare’s other tragedies, Hamlet, which is my favorite Shakespeare play. However, although it is not my favorite, Othello is also a very good play, full of jealousy, lost love, and has a way better love story than Romeo and Juliet or Twilight.

We meet Othello, who is the greatest man in Venice. He is handsome, kind, charismatic, humble, and courageous. He is also a very strong leader of the Venice army, has a very beautiful and perfect wife, and is about to be promoted. So why he is set up for a tragedy? There are two reasons. The first is that he is a Moor, who are known for their dark skin, and Venice is full of people who think that Othello used magic and witchcraft, as it was assumed all Moors could do this, in order to marry the one he loved. The second is that he promoted a foreigner, Cassio, as his right hand man instead of Iago, the most manipulative man in Venice. Thus, Iago hatches a plan that brings Othello, his new wife Desdemona, and Cassio into ruins, all because he had the “green eyed monster” of jealousy inside of him.

This play is great not only because of the plot, but because of the ties to today’s time. The people of Venice, especially Iago, sometimes scorn Othello because he is a foreigner Moor with dark skin, just like how there are many people in the world who are racist today. Additionally, there is also the theme of jealousy that can be seen today. Iago is like the person at a workforce who is envious of someone who received a higher position and decided to destroy that person with a scandal. Finally, there is also the theme of women, which lays out questions for both Shakespeare’s time and ours. In a place and time where women were not thought of as much, the women in the play have a lot of questions to answer. If it gave their husband the world, should they be dishonorable? If every action they had done was perfect except for one lie, can they ever be trusted again? And should they obey every wish of their husband, even if they don’t know why they have to do it or if it is evil?

For the genres, in case one likes these genres, there are politics, a better love story than Romeo and Juliet, tragedy, and much more.

I hope that you can read this amazing play!

-Megan V., 12th Grade

Book Review: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

macbethWilliam Shakespeare, the great English playwright, is renowned for his many works, ranging from plays to poetry to sonnets. However, Macbeth is considered to be his best achievement, known for its dark and powerful theme.

Also Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, Macbeth tells the story of a brave Scottish general named Macbeth. When he receives a prophecy from three witches that declares he will be the King of Scotland, Macbeth becomes consumed with his growing ambition. With the urge of his wife, Macbeth commits a horrible murder in order to take the throne for himself. This terrible deed soon triggers a chain of multiple actions that eventually lead to a civil war that throws Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into a world of treachery, madness, and death.

Compared to the other Shakespearean plays that I have read, Macbeth was fairly easy to follow, as it had a plot line that was intriguing, almost like a novel. I found it interesting how Macbeth, who was once an honorable general, transformed into a heartless monster, whose ambition made him lose all sense of right and wrong. Overcome with guilt and paranoia, Macbeth begins to slowly mentally break down, to the point where he sees ghosts, as well as Lady Macbeth, who becomes convinced that her hands are permanently stained with the blood of the person they murdered.

All in all, I would certainly recommend this play to anyone who thinks Shakespeare is frustrating and difficult to read. Macbeth gave me a new insight on the writings of Shakespeare, and surprisingly, was very enjoyable. For those who have trouble understanding Shakespeare’s language, I would suggest finding a version with footnotes that explain and help in comprehending the Early Modern English. Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s works that everyone must read during their lifetime, and it reminds us about the danger of ambition and the evil that lurks in every single one of us.

-Kaylie W., 10th grade

Book Review: As YOU Like It

as_you_like_itShakespeare was great. No contest.

But in my opinion, his best comedy is As You Like It. It is an amazing play, where all the characters end up falling in love and getting married because of one person: a teenage girl named Rosalind. She wants to find out if the guy she likes really loves her, so she dresses up like a guy and offers to give her crush love lessons.

In this play there are two jesters, two shepherds, two peasant girls, two rich cousins, two brothers, and two dukes. It is an amazing play. No one in the play seems to want to do much with court life. Half of them are banished to the forest of Arden (Robin Hood’s supposed forest) and they spend their time having fun. It is thought Shakespeare pretty much wrote this play to show off, because it has no real morals. The entire point of the play is to give people love advice and show them how stupid lovers can be. One of my favorite quotes that Rosalind says is, “Love is merely a madness, and I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are not so punish’d and cur’d is, that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too.” 3:2

I know a lot of you are probably thinking “Shakespeare… Romeo and Juliet… Olden sounding words like thee and whilst… Dead chicks like Ophelia and Juliet. Not fun.” But if you enjoy rom-coms, this is just an olden day version. You can even look up the SparkNotes summary before you read it, just in case. But please, don’t knock it ’til you try it.

-Becka O., 8th grade