Dear Mr. John Adams, I am writing this letter in regards to the recent article that was printed in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this week criticizing the study of Shakespeare in school and how it should be removed from the year 9 syllabuses. One of Shakespeare’s most famous works is the play of Romeo and Juliet which is also one of the world’s best-known love stories. A play such as Romeo and Juliet incorporates profound themes of human nature, father and daughter relationships and the inevitability of fate.
In addition, exposing students to a multitude of literary techniques, challenges students with difficult language and style, expresses a profound knowledge of human behavior and offers insight into the world around us. Simply stated, I believe students should study Romeo and Juliet in school because of the incredible value within the play. The play centres around the rivalry between two families, the Montagues and the Capulets, and the victims of this conflict. As the play progresses, it reveals how human beings are capable of many things. They can be incredibly nice and generous, but they can also be very greedy, selfish, and deceptive.
This is particularly suitable given the key theme of human behavior. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare demonstrates how even the kindest person can be deceiving to a lot of people or how money can make people do almost anything. This play teaches the audience that these characteristics is something that everyone is capable of in one form or another and not many people realize this but these rivalries may still exist today which is also adds to the reason as to why Romeo and Juliet should remain in the syllabus for year 9 students.
A character in this play that could illustrate this clearly is Lord Capulet. At the beginning of the play, it is clear Capulet feels his daughter is “too young” to marry and “still a stranger to the world” as Capulet first tells Paris when he proposes, conventionally to Capulet not Juliet. “Still a stranger to the world” further implies he does not see her as a valid person yet, the fact she is still “a stranger to him” displays a lack of trust in Juliet and maybe some hidden doubt about her loyalty to him as a father. Further into the play, Juliet’s refusal to marry Paris affects her father is a variety of ways.
On his first encounter with her Capulet asks why she is “evermore weeping”, showing compassion for his daughter. Yet when he hears of her refusal he becomes angry and insulting. “Disobedient Wretch” suggests he not only feels betrayed by his daughter but his compassion and love for his daughter was merely superficial and has evaporated along with the marriage proposal. Throughout the course of the play, the audience is able to distinguish the difference in his character and it’s relation to the theme of human behavior.
When students study this play, they are able to gain knowledge through the characterization that will help them understand and have a realistic view on human nature which contributes to the reason why Romeo and Juliet should remain in the syllabus for year 9 students. A major theme in this play is the inevitability of fate. From the beginning of the play in the prologue the audience is made aware that it is fate which is in control of these two young lover’s lives.
Shakespeare exemplifies fate as a concept that will ever be obscure to us, even through our best intentions to discover its secrets and its ancient workings. No one can comprehend what fate has in store and neither did Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet teaches students that fate is a powerful force, whether predestined or persuasions of your actions that will shape your lives as it did with Romeo and Juliet. Before the play even begins, Shakespeare outlines the play for us in the prologue. Written as a sonnet the prologue basically summarizes the plot of the play.
More importantly, Shakespeare establishes immediately within the prologue that Romeo and Juliet’s plot includes heavy elements of fate. “A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life. ” (Act 1 Prologue L. 6) Not only does this foreshadow the ending of the play, Shakespeare refers to Romeo and Juliet as “star-crossed”, referring to the belief of fate and its connection with the constellations through the use of imagery. Additionally, the prologue indicates a second time that the plot is influenced by fate – “The fearful passage of their death-marked love. (Act 1 Prologue L. 9) The love of Romeo and Juliet is “death-marked”, meaning that it is destined to result in death. This evidence suggests that the tragedy occurs as a result of predestination instead of chance, but nonetheless, this is fate. In Act 5, Scene 3, Friar Laurence said, “A greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our plan. ” This quote sums up the reason for basically every bad event that occurred in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet and the inevitability of fate.
Fate and chance are the two major elements that brought Romeo and Juliet together as lovers, but chance and fate brought them together with intent to use the lives and deaths of the two as part of a larger plan to reconcile the feuding Capulet and Montague families. Shakespeare defines fate as a force beyond human control, thus removing personal choice as a motivating force in the play. This play teaches students that whether fate exists or not, it still has a role in our lives and is always delving us into questioning our existence on earth.
Not only has Romeo and Juliet become one of the most powerful love stories, because it is so well written, there are still many modern adaptations of this play over 400 years later and it is still a success. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was also copied to make a musical for Broadway and today it is one of the most famous musicals ever. These were all so victorious because they utilized the universal truths of love and hate which are easily relatable and captivating yet timeless to all audiences both young and old, both then and now.
Clearly, studying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a valuable and rewarding experience and i think school programs should recognize the extraordinary literary genius of his writing and realize the educational potential it offers. Studying Romeo and Juliet in school exposes students to powerful themes, concepts and an opportunity of which they may have not otherwise taken advantage. Schools, I believe, must provide students with the opportunity to experience the profound insights, perceptions and literary contributions of playwright William Shakespeare and especially Romeo and Juliet. Kindest regards,