For my Romeo and Juliet project, I need four songs/poems/works of art that deal with disobeying your parents.

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billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Offhand, I can offer only one suggestion. That is the short novel Washington Square by Henry James. In the book Catherine Sloper is swept off her feet by the handsome fortune hunter Morris Townsend. Catherine's father Dr. Austin Sloper flatly rejects Townsend when he comes to ask him for his daughter's hand in marriage. Dr. Sloper knows that Catherine has nothing to attract a man, and especially such a handsome and charming man as Townsend, except her money. Both Townsend and Catherine refuse to accept Dr. Sloper's decision. Catherine disobeys her father for the first time in her life. She insists that she is going to marry Townsend and prepares to leave the big house on Washington Square in New York City. This story takes place around 1840, in the days when wives obeyed their husbands and daughters obeyed their fathers without question.

The novel was adapted into a successful stage play titled The Heiress. Later the stage play was adapted into a motion picture also titled The Heiress (1949), starring Olivia de Havilland as Catherine and Montgomery Clift as Morris Townsend. Much more recently the novel was adapted into a second motion picture with the title Washington Square (1997).

So in one single work created by the great American writer Henry James, you have a novel, a play, and two motion pictures, all of them heavily stressing the theme of a girl disobeying her father.

It occurs to me that there is another play by Shakespeare in which a girl disobeys her father. That is the comedy As You Like It. Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind and orders his daughter to have nothing further to do with her good friend. But the Duke's daughter Celia is so attached to Rosalind that she leaves home and accompanies Rosalind to the Forest of Arden.

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

One of the best songs about a child's disobedience towards their parents is The Beatles' "She's Leaving Home."  The song centers around a child that has to run away from home because she understands that her parents would not understand her actions.  The greatness of the song in connection to Romeo and Juliet is in the parents' lyrics.  They operate as a type of "Greek Chorus," and their words could easily convey the endless hurt that both the Montagues and Capulets feel at the end of the drama.  The song reflects how children break rules they see as unreasonable and misguided when their own interests are threatened.  Both titular characters would embrace the girl's actions in the song.

Taylor Swift's "Love Story" would work because it easily integrates the Romeo and Juliet narrative.  The disobeying of parents is of vital importance in the song's lyrical development:

That you were Romeo, you were throwing pebbles,
And my daddy said, "Stay away from Juliet"
And I was crying on the staircase
Begging you, "Please don't go"
And I said...

"Love Story" would be a song to have to do with disobeying parents.  I think that another interesting song that captures the feelings toward disobeying and rejecting one's parents would be Eminem's "Cleanin' Out My Closet."  The song and its video speak to the anger that a child holds towards a parent when they feel they have been wronged.  The perceived abandonment of responsibility is something that Eminem articulates in quite a powerful manner.  Lyrics such as, "Remember when Ronnie died and you said you wished it was me? Well guess what, I am dead - dead to you as can be!" and  the song's refrain reflect the anger and hurt in a child who feels that they have to disobey their parents because of actions having been taken.  Finally, if you are looking for a softer approach to the idea of child disobedience, there is a poem entitled "Dead Wreckoning."  It is told from the point of view of a girl who wanted to have a night of partying and fun, disobeying her parents to do so.  The poem speaks to a sadder side of parental disobedience and might capture another aspect of the emotional experience that Romeo and Juliet might have encountered once they crossed the line in disobeying their parents' wishes.

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