Practice Essay Question Due: Monday the 5th of November What are the most important themes in Romeo and Juliet? Compare and contrast how these themes are represented in Shakespeare’s play and Lurhrman’s film adaptation. In your answer: * Discuss 2 key themes * Consider which key characters embody these themes * Make detailed reference to at least 2 key scenes per theme * Highlight similarities AND differences between the film and the play * Discuss language, film and dramatic techniques BODY:
Act 1, scene 1 – THEME: LOVE (compare Shakespeare and Luhrmann) Act 2, Scene 2 – THEME: LOVE (compare Shakespeare and Luhrmann) Act 1, Scene 1 – THEME: HATE (compare Shakespeare and Luhrmann) Act 3, Scene 1 – THEME: HATE (compare Shakespeare and Luhrmann) (DON’T WRITE ANYMORE FROM 800-100 WORDS) SIRS INTRO………… The prologue of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet immediately identifies the story of the title characters as “star cross’d lovers”, which foreshadows to the audience an insight into the key themes of the story, being love and fate.
Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation (1996) makes the Elizabethan text accessible for a modern audience by focusing on the same key themes. Shakespeare’s use of dramatic techniques and luhrmann’s use of film devices represent the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet in an effective way. The two contradicting key themes that are universal and significant to both the original play Romeo and Juliet composed by William Shakespeare and the modern execution in style of a movie directed by Baz Luhrmann are the themes of love and hate.
These two themes can be drawn into relation with the characters of Romeo and Tybalt who effectively represent these themes through various language, film and dramatic techniques implemented by both composers. The character of Romeo, who is infatuated by love throughout the entirety of the play, experiencing the turbulence of love, undoubtedly dominates this theme that is so central to both Shakespeare’s play and Luhrmann’s movie.
The first concept of love that is introduced by Shakespeare in Act 1, Scene 1 is that of Romeo’s unrequited love and despondence for Rosaline. As Romeo isolates himself in despair he questions love as an unexplainable and contradicting force, “Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate? ” Through Shakespeare’s use of Oxymoron’s and a rhetorical question, he depicts Romeo’s confused melancholy due to his rejected love. Whilst this is ultimately a negative perception of love, it’s significant as it allows Shakespeare to present Romeo’s melodramatic character.
Contrastingly, Luhrmann through his use of dramatic film techniques is capable of portraying Romeo’s state of depression due to love through various visuals within the scene. In Luhrmann’s movie, Romeo is a very emotive character driven by love, which is depicted through lighting. In this particular scene, lighting along with slow camera movement is used as a method of portraying Romeo’s isolation and desolation through a visual of Romeo with his shadowy figure and back towards the sun blocking its rays, implementing this idea of Romeo’s own “artificial night” as described by his father.
Whilst both Shakespeare and Luhrmann illustrate an undesirable portrayal of love in this particular scene, through the use of symbols, light imagery and hyperbolic language, both composers show a positive perception of the love between Romeo and Juliet. Romeo is regarded as character with an abrupt attitude towards love. This is highlighted in Act 2, Scene 2 as both composers maintain the theme of love by portraying Romeo’s sudden infatuation with his new love, Juliet.
This relationship between the children of the feuding families becomes integral to the play with a key scene being the balcony scene where Shakespeare incorporates celestial imagery to portray Romeo’s hyperbolic approach towards his love for Juliet. Shakespeare chooses to portray Romeo as an overemotional character that uses romantic language to describe his love for Juliet, “Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, having some business, do entreat her eyes. Shakespeare incorporates celestial imagery along with hyperbolic language to compare the eyes of Juliet with the “fairest stars” which further emphasises Romeo’s sudden passion for Juliet as he elaborates her beauty. Whilst Shakespeare successfully represents both Romeo’s melodramatic attitude towards love and his relationship with Juliet through his variety of language techniques, Luhrmann is able to capture this love scene through strong symbolism and film methods.
Whilst Luhrmann does have soft romantic music throughout the scene, he chooses to mute the music slightly so that the strong intimate words between Romeo and Juliet pronouncing their love for each other is dominant over the music and therefore compliments the intimate camera close ups of the two young lovers. Luhrmann is subtly able to draw the audience’s attention to the “innocent” love of Romeo and Juliet through the use of water in the scene.
Water, often associated with purity and innocence, coincides with Juliet’s white gown, which further introduces this idea of the harmless love portrayed throughout the scene. The theme of hate is a predominant theme throughout both pieces as it majorly contradicts the theme of love and is most commonly associated with the character Tybalt due to his arrogant and egotistical nature and fiery temper. Shakespeare opens the play in act 1, scene 1 with the theme of hatred as he introduces the war between the feuding families of Montague and Capulet.
Tybalt, often regarded as the “prince of cats”, is represented by Shakespeare as a character who represents hatred and thrives on the quarrel between the two families. Shakespeare shows this aggressive attitude in this scene through Tybalt’s questioning of Benvolio’s attitude towards peace, “Talk of peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montague’s, and thee. ” Shakespeare’s use of a rhetorical question and the repetition of the word hate, emphasises Tybalt’s conflicting nature and aversion towards peace, which illustrates the contradiction between the antagonistic Tybalt and the arbitrating Benvolio.
Contradictorily, Luhrmann portrays the theme of hatred in this scene through the use of fire symbolism and close camera angles to display the sinister and aggressive facials of Tybalt. Fire throughout this Gas station scene ultimately represents the conflict of the families as the fire engulfs the screen, this metaphorically concurs as it symbolises the hatred that engulfs and exists between the feuding families. Tybalt being the predominant character portraying hatred is dressed in black suggesting his passion for violence.
Additionally the close camera angles of Tybalt’s face allow Luhrmann to capture and enhance Tybalt’s menacing and oppressive temperament. The two contradicting themes of love and hate play a pivotal role in the events that take place in the play and are represented by two main characters through techniques used by both Shakespeare who uses a traditional approach and Luhrmann who interprets this established play into a modern movie. Whilst the composers implement different techniques to illustrate the themes, they both are successful in representing these universal and integral themes.