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Yesterday’s Mistakes are Today’s Lessons

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Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy that involves young lovers, their “untimely death,” and a feud between their two families. The Capulets and the Montagues war against each other. The feud continues to escalate and provides the background for the story of these “two star-crossed lovers.” This literary masterpiece is still relevant today since it involves parental ambition, family fighting, and young love.
In the Elizabethan era, children of the high class were expected to obey without question. There was no free will to make their own decisions about their own lives. Few had experiences relating to romance before marriage. They were expected to grow up, get married, get their money, have kids, pass it on, and carry on in the cycle. Juliet’s parents say that she should give her consent to marrying. Marrying Paris would increase their wealth and raise their social status in society. Lady Capulet says of Paris, “…And what obscur’d in this fair volume lies /Find written in the margent of his eyes,/ This precious book of love, this unbound lover, / to beautify him only lacks a cover.” Besides describing his beauty, she also concludes with “So shall you share all that he doth possess by having him making yourself no less.” This means that marrying Paris would make Juliet share in his money and raise her status in society. The Capulets bring a lot of pressure for her to marry him. There really is not any thought of how Juliet would feel.
Today, these selfish desires are seen in families. Some parents choose their child’s friends, activities, and lifestyles. Other times, some manipulate them to have something to brag about.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Ewell is a racial bigot who is unloving to his daughter; yet, will not tolerate her physical attraction to an African American man. He beats her and wants revenge against Tom Robinson daring to go into his house and being kind to his daughter. When Mr. Ewell found his daughter hugging Tom, he beat her brutally and told the authorities that Tom Robinson had raped her. Not only would he save his own reputation by lying to the police and court, he could boast on how he threw a Negro into jail. This leads to the trial of Tom Robinson. Finally, unlike Juliet, Mayella Ewell was afraid to voice the truth and lied to the court.
The main backbone of this tragedy is no other than the two families feuding in Verona, which is a place “where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” The Montagues and Capulets have been fighting since who knows when. The audience sees this in Act I, Scene I when Gregory and Sampson pick a fight with the Montague servants, Abram and Balthasar, which eventually turns into a nasty brawl with Benvolio, Tybalt, and the citizens of Verona. The absolute insanity of the feud is shown when both old men join the fray and Capulet asks for his sword. Lady Capulet says, “A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?” This means that even though Lord Capulet is old, his everlasting hatred for the Montagues is still burning strong.
Feuding is still common today. The war between the Coxs and Powells in Utah is a great example. These are two families joined together by their children’s marriage. The mysterious disappearance of Josh Powell’s wife ignites a fire storm of accusations between Mr. Powell, and Mr. Cox on television. Each is defending their child’s honor and reputation, as well as their family’s names.

Truly, Shakespeare’s audiences enjoyed a moving love story, especially one that ends in tragedy. The story of Romeo and Juliet begins as a physical attraction but even in Act I, Scene V, it has progressed to a secret love that is associated with light. “She doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night.” Romeo said when he saw her for the first time. Juliet, in turn, said. “If he be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed.” This hints the tragedy is coming. They both dare to reject their parents, their names, and Fate. Their infatuation flowers into a strong, mature love. Juliet makes a promise to Romeo to “follow thee my lord throughout the world.” In the end, she does follow him in death. When she drinks the poison, she says “Romeo, I come! This do I drink to thee.”
This story relates to a current novel about young love, Beautiful Creatures, which takes place in an old prejudiced small town in South Carolina. Ethan falls in love with the outsider, Lena, and no one is happy about it. The two are constantly being pestered by friends, peers, family, and magic to break apart. In the end, Ethan dies in the middle of an epic battle and Lena is forced to fight for her life. Without a doubt, today’s readers love the idea of forbidden and tragic love.
In conclusion, Romeo and Juliet is still relevant to today’s literature, drama, film, and even current events. Human behavior has not changed throughout the ages. Parental ambition, feuding among families and young love which often ends in tragedy are part of today’s world. The story of these two young lovers can be retold today with the same sadness as Prince Escalus declares, “A glooming peace this morning with it brings. The sun for sorrow will not show his head. Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things; some shall be pardon’d, and some punished; for never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”



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