In the very last words of the play, the Prince asserts the superlative status of Romeo and Juliet: ‘For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo’ (5.3.309–10). Popular opinion seems to concur: Romeo and Juliet remains one of Western culture’s most iconic love stories. It continues to be adapted in wildly various forms: in 2004 the Icelandic company Verstuport performed the play on trapeze; Sonia Leong illustrated a manga version in 2007; Tom Morris directed octogenarian lovers in Juliet and her Romeo for the Bristol Old Vic in 2010; the same year saw a collaboration between Mudlark and the Royal Shakespeare Company that performed the play (Such Tweet Sorrow) across five weeks on Twitter and other online social platforms; and garden gnomes replaced teenagers and found a happy ending in the 2011 animation, Gnomeo and Juliet (perhaps proving Garrick’s point about the dangers of puns). The cultural appetite for this tale seems to be insatiable. However, we have seen that over the last four centuries some critics have been rather less confident than the Prince in the play’s tragic value (or, at least, find weakness rather than wonder in its ‘woe’). Even so, the range and depth of critical insights into Romeo and Juliet are testament to its intellectual (as well as its emotional) profundity. Scholarship has repeatedly recorded Shakespeare’s formal, poetic and social innovations in this work. In her appropriation of the sonnet, epithalamium and tragedy, one of literature’s most famous heroines is generically experimental; organizing her own wedding and funeral, she is also socially bold. Romeo and Juliet’s linguistic, Petrarchan, psychoanalytical, gendered and sexual aspects continue to provoke new debate. As is shown by Grady’s methodological fusions between aesthetic theory and psychoanalysis, and Watson and Dickey’s contentious exposure of sinister threats in seductive poetry, criticism keeps moving. The relatively new willingness to engage with the tragedy in its multiple texts (Quarto 1 and Quarto 2) also means that returning to the play itself demands flexibility.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number