Monday, October 8, 2012

Romeo and Juliet: Glorifying Suicide?

Recently in my Advanced Shakespeare class, we briefly mentioned Romeo and Juliet while in the process of our current project (Editing and modernizing The Merry Wives of Windsor). It was said that Romeo and Juliet "glorified" suicide and that since it was because of/for love, suicide is okay. I personally think that if we have to put a message on the suicides, that it is downplaying suicides. Romeo kills himself thinking that Juliet killed herself, which shows that Romeo was acting impulsively and rashly. That says that suicide should not be done without thought or by instinct. Then Juliet kills herself when she finds out Romeo has killed himself (because he thought Juliet killed herself when she didn't), this ultimately brings the families together. While the suicides do have a meaning in the long run, the only reason they do have a meaning is because it is so shocking and heartbreaking to the families. Which I don't necessarily think is "glorifying" suicide or making it a romantic notion. A shocking act leads to a large revelation normally and these suicides give Shakespeare the shocking act he was looking for. Much like getting a well deserved (and needed) slap to the face or kick in the rear.

Plus, would Shakespeare have been able to bring the families together other wise? If the two ran away together, each family would blame the other family's child for kidnapping, witchery, etc. It wouldn't be a tragedy if the two had a big marriage to bring the family together. With that ending, it would be done better as a comedy, but as currently written, it obviously does not fall into that Shakespearean category which means there must be death in the end.

Thoughts? Glorifying, not glorifying, doesn't matter? Could this end differently and still plausibly bring the families together?

1 comment:

  1. Suicide is one of the mysteries of the world. No one knows exactly what the happens after death although I'm sure many are willing to argue about it for days. I believe you either can or cant in regards to suicide. Some people are born with the innate ability to take their life and others cannot.