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Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Brief Essay on "Romeo & Juliet" for the 13 to Life Contest

This is another part of my contest entry for Shannon Delany's Change is Good--Ask a Werewolf Contest. Now that I've carefully chosen the perfect length for a brief essay, I don't think that I'll have to ramble for quite as long before and after the essay as I did for the "Change" essay. So, without further adieu:

Why Pietr Hates Romeo & Juliet, and You Should, Too
 An Essay on the Horrors of Shakespeare and Destiny

Disclaimer: I don't actually hate Shakespeare, just R&J and the concept of fate, star-crossed love, etc. 'The Horrors of Shakespeare' does not mean 'Shakespeare is Horrible.' If that was what I meant, that's what I would've put for the subtitle. This refers to horrors committed by Shakespeare in his works, and does not insinuate that they, themselves, are horrible, with the exception of R&J. I don't think there are any other ways I can say that. On with the essay.

Shakespeare's play Romeo & Juliet is one of those literary works that you either love or hate. There's not a lot of in between ground. I am one of the people who hate it, and so is Pietr from Shannon Delany's novel 13 to Life. I believe that Pietr's reasons for disliking R&J are that Romeo has no trouble getting the girl and that he also has no choice, because their love is fated.

First, unlike Romeo, Pietr has to work to win over Jessica, not because she doesn't like him, but because her best friend does. Juliet falls madly in love with Romeo before even talking to him. They look into each others' eyes from across a packed ballroom and are instantly certain that they want to be together forever. After knowing each other for less than a week, they elope. Pietr would obviously have issues with this easy love since, at first, Jessica rejects him.

Second, Romeo and Juliet don't get to decide whether or not they want to be together, because, well, fate has already decided for them. Over the course of the book, and before it, Pietr has had to make many difficult decisions, without the intervention of fate. If he doesn't get any help, why should Romeo and Juliet? Pietr feels forced into being something different from the rest of the world because he is a werewolf, and the same "fate" that chose to bring Romeo and Juliet decided that he would have to turn into a wolf. How is that fair? Romeo gets the girl, and Pietr gets what? Fur, fangs, and claws. Great. Yes, I do know that both Romeo and Juliet die, but it is their fault, and their families'.

The same issues might irritate teens in today's society because, like Pietr and Jessica, they have to struggle to make things work in their relationships without divine intervention, fate, whatever you want to call it. The point is that they have to make difficult, painful choices to get something good going with their boyfriend or girlfriend, and Romeo and Juliet just had everything fall together perfectly. Then what did they do? They screwed it all up. Just shows what good it does when fate gets involved.

So, reader, do you approve of Shakespeare's obvious deus ex machina? Is fate your thing? Or do you, like Pietr and I, believe that you should have to work for what you want? As you can see, Romeo and Juliet didn't appreciate what was given to them enough to keep it. Do you think it would have worked out differently if they'd had to fight for their love? I know that I do.