Argument: The Careless Consultant (Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare)

Cover of Romeo and Juliet

There is a reason why people often say they have “escaped into their favorite story” or “jumped into the pages” of a book. This is because the literary world is a place where writers express their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and imaginations so readers can discover them. Every piece of literature will exemplify different beliefs or opinions, but there are some things that stay the same–one of these is the respect for a mentor. In one of the most influential American novels, Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is the father to young Scout and Jem Finch, but he is also a teacher, a guide, and role model to his children. A mentor exemplifies leadership, righteousness, and a trustworthy presence, but the character of Friar Laurence is in stark contrast as he let two young children who looked up to him die by their own hands. William Shakespeare, in his tragic play Romeo and Juliet employs the character of Friar Laurence as the person responsible for Romeo and Juliet’s suicides in order to portray the detriments of an irresponsible and wrongly focused mentor.

Friar Laurence’s failed counseling is seen in his infatuation with the bigger picture, the larger impact, the greater significance. In this mindset, he fails to recognize the minute details and comparatively smaller consequences. When the excited Romeo arrives at Friar Laurence’s cell to ask the friar to marry him and Juliet, Friar Laurence disapproves, but later changes his mind. He shows no interest in the happiness of Romeo and Juliet; instead, he expresses his desire to end the feud between the Montague and Capulet families. The friar’s focus on the larger impact causes him to fail to see the impact of this marriage on Romeo and Juliet themselves. 

A sketch entitled "Friar Laurence gathering herbs" from Mary Evans Picture Library
“Friar Laurence gathering herbs” from
Mary Evans Picture Library

The character of Friar Laurence also exemplifies the trait of irresponsibility. As a respected teacher of both Romeo and Juliet, the friar must understand his role as a mentor to both children and be able to teach them to make responsible decisions. However, Friar Laurence exemplifies the contrary when Juliet arrives at his cell, desperate. She is engrossed in her dilemma of avoiding marriage to two men; moreover, she is grieving the banishment of Romeo. Despite Juliet’s hysterical state, Friar Laurence asks Juliet how desperate she really is, and proceeds to give her an outrageous solution, after Juliet’s “approval.” It is absolutely ludicrous to ask Juliet, in her present condition, for such an opinion. The friar demonstrates reckless thinking and proceeds to give Juliet a potion that will send her into a death-like state for hours without even attempting to discuss or reason another solution with her.

Despite the trust Romeo and Juliet placed in him, Friar Laurence is to blame for the suicides of Romeo and Juliet. Through his irresponsible mindset and wrongly placed focus on the larger impact of Romeo and Juliet’s actions, Friar Laurence failed at his role as a mentor. Unlike Prince Escalus, a merciful leader who well carries his responsibilities, Friar Laurence neglected his responsibilities of demonstrating proper decision making and instead offered an outrageous solution to a young girl who was unable to collect herself at the time. Unlike Atticus Finch, who paid proper attention to how his actions would impact his children, Friar Laurence disregarded the consequences of his actions on Romeo and Juliet and was instead consumed by the idea of him being the one to restore peace in Verona. Compiled by the pen of William Shakespeare, Friar Laurence well portrays the horrible consequences of failed mentorship.

-Ayati M.

Romeo and Juliet is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Wait, Romeo and Juliet, that’s the one about love right?  Yes, my friend, that is the one about love, but also it explores so much more.  In the sixteenth century play, two rival clans, the Montagues, and the Capulets has a child, Romeo and Juliet, who fall helplessly in love with each other but are not permitted to be with each other and as a result of this, through an elaborate plan which backfires, ultimately each takes their own lives. 

On a surface level, it is a story about love. But deeper down is the story’s true motifs, rejection of stereotypes.  For example, when Romeo and Juliet come to the conclusion that they are from rival houses, this does not hinder their romance. They put their families’ differences behind them without even a thought. Juliet rebels against her father’s patriarchal control over her by refusing the arranged marriage he attempts to force upon her. Also, she is a renegade in the sense that she was ahead of her time in the ways of intellect. Juliet always thinks things through or has a plan. Her character beats the old fashioned notion of girls being simple creatures that act on a whim and can’t be logical into the ground.  Friar Lawrence breaks the mood by telling Romeo to buy illegal drugs. 

All around in this story, people are rejecting the stereotypes that others represent and rejecting the ones that they represent as well. Today, if we were collectively wise enough as a society to reject stereotypes, think of how much more in unison we would all be. Now, of all times, we should be looking past stereotypes. Over four hundred years ago Shakespeare wrote this revolutionary play about looking past stereotypes and some of us are too ignorant to get it through our skulls. Remember this, a stereotype is merely a figment of one’s imagination. The more you believe it, the more you put it in the forefront of your mind as you go through life, the more prevalent you make it. As the monster you thought was in your closet as a kid, the more you thought about it, the more real it seemed.  The more you see the stereotypes, the more of a monster you become.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It is in your hands to create a better world for all those who live in it”

Treat others how you would like to be treated.  Don’t be the monster in the closet that you were scared of as a kid. 

-Ainsley H

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

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Caesar is one of William Shakespeare’s best plays. It not only portrays the friendship of two major characters but also describes how democracy, instead of tyranny, is the best way to govern a nation and protect the rights of its citizens.

In this post, I would like to explain why, Brutus, in my opinion, is a patriot instead of a traitor. First, he killed Caesar because he thinks that it is the only way to save Rome from a dictatorship. Signs of corruption and power in Caesar warns Brutus that a tyrant is in sight. Therefore, he killed Caesar for the common good and to ensure democracy.

Another reason why killing Caesar can be justified as a way of patriotism is because the benefit equal representation in Senate brings outweighs the loss of Caesar. The plebeians do not know how the government operates, and therefore, they don’t know Caesar’s selfish plans and his personality. Hence, it is Brutus’ responsibility to assure that the Roman citizens’ rights are not taken away. If Brutus is already aware of others will accuse him of murdering his best friend and be entitled to that of a traitor, yet he still chooses to do it, this proves that he is a person who values his country above his personal relations.

-Coreen C. 

Julius Caesar is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

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.

Romeo and Juliet, A Theatre Review

Recently, I sat in the audience of the Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre in Laguna Beach as I watched actors both young and old act out Shakespeare’s famous play, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. To be honest, I had no complaints about the play itself. The actors were all very well rehearsed and the performance was very polished, a difficult feat given how hard it is to read Shakespearean dialect, let alone memorize and perform it.

romeo and juliet

“Romeo and Juliet” by Frank Dicksee

Many parts which I remember from reading the play itself were identical in the stage adaption. A couple scenes were edited, but only slightly. Additionally, a few scenes were different than what I had pictured as well as from what the movie versions of the play depicts. A main example of this is the fight that the Capulet and Montague families have in the middle of the market in the beginning of the play. I imagined there to be more characters on each side while the Laguna Playhouse adaption maintained a smaller crowd. Regardless, these slight differences did not necessarily take away from the overall play. It was still very enjoyable.

If you are someone who enjoys watching student theatre productions, I would definitely recommend looking into the Laguna Playhouse productions. I have watched a variety of productions there, from Tom Sawyer to an adaption of Lois Lowry’s The Giver to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I have always been extremely impressed by the performances because these students are all able to produce a polished and entertaining performance in addition to handling the stress of school.

– Leila S., 10th grade