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Last Updated on September 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 537

So you’re going to teach William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has challenges, teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. It will give them unique insight into Shakespearean tragedies, the sonnet form, and important themes surrounding love, loyalty, and blood feud. This guide highlights the text's most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance 

  • Publication Date: 1597 
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level: 11 
  • Approximate Word Count: 26,500 
  • Author: William Shakespeare 
  • Country of Origin: England 
  • Genre: Drama, Shakespearean Tragedy 
  • Literary Period: Early Modern Renaissance 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Society 
  • Setting: Verona, Italy, 14th Century 
  • Structure: Five-Act Play, Iambic Pentameter, Sonnets, Blank Verse, Heroic Couplets 
  • Mood: Romantic, Tragic

Texts That Go Well With Romeo and Juliet

A Million Junes is a novel by Emily Henry that retells the Romeo and Juliet tale. Two ancient families in Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts, feud over a disagreement that happened centuries ago. Main character June’s hatred for the Angerts only abates when she falls for Saul Angert and must then uncover the truth behind the feud. This novel shares themes about love, loyalty, and conflict. It focuses on the experience of hatred and empathy and explores the reasons behind the blood feud. 

Astrophil and Stella is a sonnet sequence by Sir Philip Sidney. Throughout this sequence the speaker explores questions of love, desire, and poetic creation using a Petrarchan rhyme scheme. The sequence can be used to explore themes about Early Modern love tropes and the sonnet sequence. 

Shakespeare’s Sonnets is a sonnet sequence by William Shakespeare. This sonnet sequence explores unrequited love and aging. It is less traditional but can give students insight into Shakespeare’s relationship with the poetic form that shapes Romeo and Juliet

Persuasion is a novel by Jane Austen. The story begins several years after a broken engagement between Anne Elliot and Commander Wentworth. The novel explores themes of the power family and society has over one’s decisions and how this power can cause romantic tragedy. 

Warm Bodies is a novel by Isaac Marion. Called a “zombie romance,” it is perfect for students reluctant to engage with romance plots. R is a man in the early stages of becoming a zombie. As he develops a human relationship with Julie, he becomes more human. This novel shares themes about love and star-crossed lovers but also explores what it means to be human and how being in love can shape identity. 

West Side Story is a musical and movie from 1961. Based on Romeo and Juliet, the play follows a love story between Anita and Tony whose love is complicated by the tension between a European-American gang and a Puerto Rican gang. This musical shares themes about loyalty, love, and doomed romance with the 1597 play. 

Wuthering Heights is a novel by Emily Bronte. This classic revolves around the twisted love of Cathy and Heathcliff, exploring themes of love through a different lens that displays the dangerous power of a doomed union.

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