Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s classic play, “Romeo and Juliet,” sheds a light on young love and risky decisions. Depending on what you think of Fate, you either really enjoy this romantic story or get extremely annoyed with its resolution. It’s a light fun play that touches on youthful passion but ends on a dark twist.

Taking place in Verona, Italy, this tragedy illustrates the romance between two teenagers from two feuding families. Ultimately, Romeo and Juliet are enemies but after they meet at a party, their family names are nothing more but a barrier between them. They get married in secret with the help of a few characters and plan to run away together. However this plan is altered when a series of unfortunate events results in both of them tragically dying. Many simple mistakes and the tragic ending could all have been avoided with a little more communication and clear thinking but Shakespeare wanted Fate to play a huge role in the outcome of the play.

In my opinion, the best aspect of this play is the flow of words and the speech that brings everything alive. The writing style itself is beautiful and Shakespeare finds a way to use words to shape the plot. For example, Romeo’s speech is dull and full of misery when he is rejected by Rosaline but as the play progresses and he meets Juliet, his words are bedazzled with figurative language. Juliet also has lovely soliloquies that are fun to annotate and dramatically read aloud. Another way Shakespeare really enhances his play is the use of characters. He provides the young and inexperienced Romeo and Juliet, the hysterical and crude Nurse, the outspoken and verbal Tybalt, the self-righteous and semi-helpful Friar Laurence, among many others to advance the play and add comic relief. Shakespeare skillfully writes this play to demonstrate Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden and rebellious love and the painful cost that hateful feuds bring.

-Jessica T.

Romeo and Juliet, and collective works of William Shakespeare, is available for checkout form the Mission Viejo Library

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

We all know about Romeo and Juliet. The famous star-crossed teenage lovers and “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art that Romeo?” sort of stuff. Personally, I didn’t like the play. Romeo and Juliet, as actual characters, were plain and the best character is Mercutio, who not only dies halfway through, but is the reason why the play became a tragedy.

On the other hand, I really liked Shakespeare’s style of writing. He writes all about death, blood and of the era when stories of knights and magic were popular. So I thought, “gee, is there a story that is dark, has fantasy and a lot of blood and death, but also has a decent romance and lively characters? And I didn’t have to look any farther than Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

For those who like dark themes, like myself, there is a lot in this play from duels and poison to talking to skulls. Hamlet, the main character of this play, is told by the ghost of his father that he was murdered by Hamlet’s uncle, who is not only the new king of Denmark, but is married to Hamlet’s mother (a sinful act in its time). Hamlet spends the rest of the play not only facing the burden of a promise that he is not sure to keep, but additionally has to deal with the depression and suicidal thoughts leading up to the start of the play, something that a lot of teenagers could possibly relate to. And of course, it’s one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, so almost all of the named characters die by the end. There’s a lot of troubled minds to question and analyze, so fans of psychology would love this play. On top of that, despite the frequency of death, “Hamlet” is actually a better love story than “Romeo and Juliet.” Hamlet and Ophelia are the only link to each other’s sanity.

Finally, the characters are amazing. I loved their development throughout the play and how they appeal to the audience in their decisions. Ophelia, although a dutiful daughter in the end, sasses her father and brother when they tell her to stay away from Hamlet. Polonius, being the nosy parent, spies on everyone and knows their private business. Hamlet, who not only has the role of the emo teenager, but also is clever enough to make fun of every single character in the play. And poor Horatio, who wonders how he got caught up in this mess.

All in all I really enjoyed this play and hope that you get the chance to read it.

Hamlet, and all of its printed and film incarnations, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Antigone by Sophocles

oedipus_sophocles“Antigone” is one play in the book of The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles. Antigone starts after Oedipus passed away in Colonus. It is a famous tragedy set in the disastrous city of Thebes. Some popular themes featured in the play are male vs. female, family ties vs. civic duty, and morality vs. law.

Antigone and her sister, Ismene, decide to return to Thebes to help their brothers, Eteocles and Polynices. When they arrive at Thebes, the sisters come to know that both brothers have been killed. Eteocles has been given a proper burial, however, Creon refuses to do so for Polynices because he thinks he betrayed the city.  Antigone disobeys the law and buries Polynices anyway, in order to honor her brother and the life he lived. Creon finds out about the illegal burial soon enough, and when he locks Antigone up in a jail cell, she kills herself. The blind prophet Teiresias, Haemon, which is Creon’s son and Antigone’s fiance, and the Chorus beg to release her from prison, without the knowledge that she is already dead. Creon eventually surrenders, only to realize that she has killed herself. At the end of the play, Creon is left sorrowful and lonely, since nobody believed that his actions were justified.

-Nirmeet B.

Antigone is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

Two Plays: Blood Wedding by Frederico García Lorca and A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

wells-theatre-210914_640While in contemporary times we do not perceive it as greatly as we once did, the theatre has unquestionably had an vast impact on art and culture. Since the days of Ancient Greece, the common man has flocked to the theatre to fulfill his urge to be entertained and engaged by stories. Today, drama is something of which the average person is latently cognizant, but it seems access to this artistic institution is increasingly hindered. Nonetheless, albeit the stage is the best mode to experience them, we do have access printed copies of these same theatrical works. I would like to briefly share two works which I recently read.

dolls_houseA Doll’s House (Et dukkehjem) is a late-19th century play composed by the prolific playwright Henrik Ibsen. In the spirit of realism, the major artistic movement of the time, the play does not aspire to amaze with a grand, heroic plot but rather observes the daily life of a typical, middle class Norwegian family. Set around Christmastime, the play follows Nora, a housewife, and her interactions with her husband, Tørvald, among others.

The driving factor of the play is that of Nora’s indebtedness to Krogstad, from whom she received a loan that saved her husband’s life. As Krogstad is about to lose his job at the bank, of which Tørvald will soon become the manager, the former man threatens Nora that she must persuade her husband to allow Krogstad to keep his job or he will reveal to Tørvald the loan, a shameful contract in which was not socially acceptable at the time for women to engage. Ultimately, Nora is paralyzed in her dire situation, and hopes for, as she says, “a miracle” that her husband may accept the actions she performed behind his back.

blood_weddingAlmost diametrically opposed to A Doll’s House in its stylistic features, Frederico Garcia Lorca’s early 20th-century play, Blood Wedding (Bodas de Sangre), is a work composed at the hight of modernism, the artistic movement focusing on symbolism and the usurpation of traditional theatrical norms.

Despite its utilization of the aforementioned devices, the central focus of the play is one that is not significantly out of the norm—a wedding. Lacking names for its characters, except for the antagonist, Leonardo, Blood Wedding depicts The Groom, a prosperous young man now in possession of a vineyard, and The Bride, Leonardo’s former lover whom she rejected for his poverty, in the days directly preceding their nuptials. Despite Leonardo’s quiet protestations, everything seems to be progressing smoothly. Soon the two youths are married, and the reception is at hand when the play take a turn for the worst. Leonardo and The Bride have eloped, and tragedy supersedes any prior joy.

Both plays discussed here have their merits in various aspects of their artistry, and though the components of their composition differ, perhaps the most fundamental concept that both is explore is the relation of the individual to society. Nora is suppressed in her domestic role and is largely ignorant of the word outside her door and herself. The Bride and Leonardo are prohibited from the free expression of their love because of the social limitations of economic viability and propriety. Both are tragic in their own right, but in their courage to present the problems of these individuals, they seem to support the individual and denounce society and the destructive forces that lie therein.

-Sebastian R., 11th grade