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I think that the sadness is supposed to help make it romantic. It shows how much the two of them loved each other.
In this story, Romeo and Juliet were both willing to take risks because they loved each other so much. Juliet was willing to take this potion that would make her seem dead so she wouldn't have to marry anyone but Romeo. Romeo risked his life coming back from exile to see Juliet.
Not only that, but they were also willing to die for their love. When Romeo thought Juliet was dead, he decided to die rather than live without her. When Juliet saw that Romeo really was dead, she made the same decision.
This kind of thing happens a lot in love stories. It is supposed to be romantic because it shows the depth of the people's love for one another.
As you say Romeo and Juliet is a very sad piece of literature, but this sadness should not drown out the love and romance. It is always good to keep in mind that good stories have many facets. In this work, the romance is seen in the very fact that both Romeo and Juliet would do anything for their love for each other. In fact, they would go through great lengths. For example, Juliet goes as far as to fake her death. Romeo goes one step further and commits suicide thinking that Juliet is dead. He loves her more than life itself. Now what makes this play both sad and filled with the passion of love is that when Juliet awakens and sees her love dead, she follows suit. In short, they both show that love is better than life. That is sad - yes, but also romantic.
There could be many reasons as to why Shakespeare's work is seen as romantic. The first might be the entire notion of "love at first sight." One has to concede a bit to Romanticism in articulating the idea of love at first sight, that upon one glance to another, true love can emerge. Another reason why the play is considered to be romantic is because both characters, essentially, give their lives for the love they have towards one another. This is the height of Romanticism, in that the defense of their love causes each of them to sacrifice their lives. Naturally, there could be an entire alternate sense of analysis that suggests that Romeo and Juliet were merely infatuated with one another or in love with the idea of being "in love" as opposed to actually being in love. However, the notion of the work being considered romantic involves the primacy placed upon love by the main characters.
The play 'Romeo and Juliet' by William Shakespeare is seen to be romantic and well loved even today as the many performances of the work every year around the world demonstrate. It has also recieved modern interpretations in plays and movies in terms of street gang warfare, more modern forms of transport-cars and up-to-date contemporary characters. If we look at the modern day romantic elements which have survived as classics up until today we can see the familiar hallmarks of successful romantic fiction/drama: the fact that Romeo is so besotted that he totally forgets the girl he was just in love with, the fact that Juliet's beauty and charm totally obliterates Rosaline's, the so-romanitic notion of the potential boyfriend overhearing Juliet's innermost thoughts on first meeting him,the scenic balcony, the idea of forbidden love,the symbolic deaths - need I go on?
The word "romance" has a number of different meanings. Some of them are:
a)love affair: a relationship between two lovers
b)romanticism: an exciting and mysterious quality (as of a heroic time or adventure)
c)love story: a story dealing with love
d) a novel dealing with idealized events remote from everyday life
(see the link below)
Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" certainly fits definitions a and b: it is about a relationship between two lovers, and it is a story dealing with love.
It also seems to fit definitions b and d: it is exciting, it has adventure (the violent feud between the two families, Romeo's brave attempt to court Juliet despite the families' objections, etc.). It also deals with "with idealized events remote from everyday life." Most of us would probably not commit suicide to prove our love; that is the kind of thing that happens in an "idealized" world, not the humdrum one that most of us live in. Also, the setting of Romeo and Juliet (13-14th century Italy) was "remote" and exotic for Shakespeare's original audience, who lived in 17th century England.
So, sad as it may be, "Romeo and Juliet" is surely "romantic."
It is considered romantic because the two young lovers go to any length they need to in order to be together. Regardless of drastic measures (taking a sleep potion to fake your own death! climbing over the orchard wall of your enemies home!) the pair do whatever it takes to see their love through to the end.
Also, there are some very tender and sweet moments the two share; For example, when they kiss at the Capulet party and when Juliet tries to convince Romeo to stay when they first wake up the day after they are married.
Romeo and Juliet is generally seen as romantic because there are a lot of really great one-liners (or maybe two- or three-liners!) in there that would just make your love melt if you said them. Plus, Elizabethan English just sounds great when you say it!
I don't think Shakespeare saw it as romantic though. First of all, he calls the play a tradegy. Second, there are clues all throughout the play that Romeo and Juliet are making bad decisions. If Romeo had just been less impulsive and stopped to think, he wouldn't have killed himself in the end, then neither would Juliet. What would be more romantic than the two of them actually getting to live happily ever after. But that doesn't happen, because that wasn't the point. Shakespeare even shows us how fickle Romeo is right at the beginning when he's obsessed with Rosaline. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't find it romantic for some guy to propose to me just hours after he was in love with someone else!
For some people the idea of romance might also come from the fact that we only see the beginning of their relationship. We never really get to see the fights and the boredom and all that other stuff that happens when you've been with someone for years. All we get to see is the first few days they are together, and the first few days of a relationship are always great! - Well, if your love doesn't kill your cousin and get himself banished!
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