Statue of Juliet, with balcony in the background in Verona, Italy / Scene from Zeffirelly’s movie “Romeo and Juliet”
The idea that love is eternal, able to survive beyond death has been a major theme in art and literature. The most widely known story is that of Romeo and Juliet, a fictional couple put in play by William Shakespeare almost 500 years ago. Whether the writing is based on a true story or not, the two have become the archetypal young lovers, willing to sacrifice everything, even their own lives, in the name of love.
The story of Romeo and Juliet takes place in Verona, Italy, and has at its center the feud between two noble families, the Montague and the Capulet. In the foreground of the power struggle, the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is made impossible by allegiance to one of the two sides. Nevertheless, the lovers fight the obstacles and by an unfortunate turn of events, end up committing suicide, convinced that their love is impossible by the rules of this world.
Frank Dicksee – Romeo and Juliet, detail
Although Shakespeare is credited as the author in popular culture, there are many versions of the story circulating before that time. Shakespeare did nothing more than to add extra detail and drama to the story and push it on the big stages of Europe. The play emerged at a time when Renaissance was attracting all the attention towards Italy, at least on an artistic level. Theaters around their world have adapted their own versions of “Romeo and Juliet” and the play has survived the test of time to be one of the most popular. The movie industry, which took the lead from the world of theater, also rendered their approach on the love story in many forms. Although the story itself managed to become a cliché, its main themes and motifs endured and emerged in new forms.
Love is not the only theme attached to the story of Romeo and Juliet. Although it has become synonymous with a love story, the play also puts in focus the themes of fate and chance, time, as well as the absurdity of the constant struggle which dominated our lives. Anyone can re-live the love story between Romeo and Juliet, although modernity has put it away from the values of Romanticism, eliminating the tragic component.