Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

1597

Pretty much everyone reads Romeo and Juliet in high school. I remember my teacher telling us in class that it’s good to read the book once when you’re young and your brain is like Romeo and Juliet, and once when you’re older to realize how silly they all were. In high school, we were all assigned scenes from the book to act out. I was assigned Juliet in the balcony scene. I was surprised to discover that all these years later, I pretty much still had the entire thing memorized. The value of education!

Reading the play as an adult, I found it much more romantic than when I was younger. When I was a kid, adults always told me that teenagers were fickle and impulsive, and as a result, I was always on guard against those feelings. As an adult, I was very moved by Romeo willing to trade entire life for a couple of extra moments with Juliet.

I also felt a deep kinship with the Nurse. I hadn’t even noticed her as a character when I read it as a teenager. Apparently she has the third largest number of lines in the play after the two main characters. She spends the play basically doing everything she can to steer Juliet in a direction that won’t cause tragedy for her, all while trying not to risk the losing her position as Juliet’s confidante. Towards the end of the play, the Nurse urges Juliet to marry Paris, even though she is already married to Romeo. In doing so, Juliet feels betrayed and decides not to share secrets with her any longer. It’s so relatable! She spends the play trying to hold the ship steady, and ultimately faces the most tragedy of any other character.