Why has the plot of Romeo and Juliet been used to many times since Shakespeare? What have the changes been?Why has the plot of Romeo and Juliet been used so many times since Shakespeare? What have...

Why has the plot of Romeo and Juliet been used to many times since Shakespeare? What have the changes been?

Why has the plot of Romeo and Juliet been used so many times since Shakespeare? What have the changes been?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The themes of romantic love and struggle are timeless but I think the thematic structure of the opposing two families actually has a lot to do with why this story has endured. There is a long history, especially in Western thought, of structuring ideas and material around binary oppositions. Binary oppositions simply means a separation into two groups; usually one is considered (by some) to be the superior.

Examples of binary oppositions: Public/private, Man/woman, Good/evil, White/black, etc.

You can see that there is clearly a white (European) patriarchal influence to some of these. This is a historical development of warring groups, colonization, and racism, but it also comes from a long history of Western philosophy which separate ideas similarly.

Examples of binary oppositions in philosophy: Mental/physical, Absolute Truth/subjective truth, Love/indifference, etc.

The narrative of a love story overlaying some larger social conflict is really the main narrative structure and this tends to involve a conflict between two or more groups. So, the plot itself (a love story overlaying a conflict) is an opposition itself. And the backdrop or structural situation upon which that opposition is based is the warring families: another opposition.

The idea is to juxtapose an innocent ideal (love) to its binary opposite: war or violence. Each family thinks they are superior to the other and this reinforces their binary segregation. The love story itself is the binary opposite of the family feud.

Romeo and Juliet has been so applicable to subsequent adaptations because of the love story and because of the history of opposition. Pick a period in history where two groups are at odds or at war with each other (there are plenty to choose from) and put a love story on top of it. This has actually become cliché, but the idea is to contrast an evil with a good; and this has lifted romatic love to the heights that you still see it in popular culture today. It has become an Ideal and part of the way we think about love, justice and war. ("Make love, not war.")

The changes in the plot, in different adaptations have been historical context: different warring groups, subtle changes to the love story.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the major reason for the popularity of this plot is that people (especially young people) are romantic and rebellious.  They like to think that, for love, they would go against the wishes of their family and throw away everything just like Romeo and Juliet did.  They like to think about resisting the pressure from their families and living their own lives the way they want to, regardless of the consequences.

So this plot is really a rebellious and individualistic one and these ideas have resonated with many different generations of people in many parts of the world.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The changes to the story are superficial to the core of the story.  The core doesn't change because of all of the ideas listed above.  Changes that have been made are changes in time and setting, such as Leonardo DeCaprio's Romeo who was a gang member of the 1990's, much like West Side Story set in the 60's.  A very recent take on the story is the newly released Gnomeo and Juliet about two families of garden gnomes and .  It was a childish take on the story, but it begins even the youngest audiences with a taste of Shakespeare's classic.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Along with the reasons given already, the very romanticism of the instant and fatal attraction of Romeo for Juliet is intriguing for audiences, especially young ones.  That Romeo would pursue Juliet despite the dangers of doing so touches the hearts of many an adolescent girl.

With other versions, such as West Side Story, it is the insistence of one of the Puerto Rican Sharks, Tony who loves Maria, the sister of one of the Jets, that touches emotionally the audience.  Love in the face of danger is always an exciting story. 


accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the way in which we can see elements of this plot in so many other works is precisely because its theme is universal. The idea of having two lovers from two different sides who can't get together and have to face so much for their love is one that appeals to us all and makes us aware of concepts such as fate and destiny. It also causes us to explore valuing our own feelings and desires over those of our family and community.

opyzy | Student

the plot is simply ageless this is a story you would not get tired of listening to.the oppposition and adversity the two young lovers face and the trouble they go through to be together in life and death is just a testament of the kind of love everyone craves for the spontaneouty of it all, theirs is one that throws caution to wind, in my opinion it is based on the notion hey we are here you are  feeling this am feeling this let's just do it. They create their own world for just the two of them closing everything out   and just living for the moment  

marmartony | Student

i really love that play as it actually 2xist nowadays also

marmartony | Student
In reply to #7:
crazyface22 | Student

It is the classic love story between 2 opposing houses. The plot can be connected to real life. What if you where them and just loved someone right then and there what would u do then?

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Romeo and Juliet

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