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Romance in Shakespeare’s Way

Whenever I hear the word “romance,” what would come into mind would be red roses, heart-shaped balloons, cute cherubs carrying their curvy little bows, and images of fluttering hearts. Looking up the dictionary, I found out that the word, just like most other words, entails more than just a couple of meanings. In this article, I will be discussing three of those meanings which would relate to some of the works of the great English playwright William Shakespeare.

Romance is a love affair with an intense and happy but short-lived affair involving young people. One of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays is the tragic love story in Verona: Romeo and Juliet. This play is a tragedy written early in the career of the aforementioned playwright about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was a puppy love gone too far and even with the sad fate of the main characters, it was still a grand (very, at that) romantic gesture for one to feel love so intense that the only way to deal with the other’s death was to die too.

Romeo and Juliet in motion picture, 1996

This photo is the poster for the 1996 motion picture for the modernized Romeo and Juliet which launched the career of Leonardo di Caprio and Claire Danes who starred as the lead roles for the movie. The producers managed to recreate the play in a movie set in a modern-day Verona while retaining the original dialogue. In the movie, you will find that the firearms (as a modern version of the swords) being used by the feuding families have their coat of arms on them. I found it interesting to see the characters being portrayed in the 1990’s setting but lines spoken were from another era. If a person who has not heard of Romeo and Juliet would look at this poster, it would be obvious how two opposing sides are being drawn together by love between the couple in the middle.

Romance is a narrative in verse or prose dealing with strange and exciting adventures of chivalrous heroes. Shakespeare’s first romantic play is Pericles, which is about a prince who sails the world and marries a foreign princess. The prince was then made to believe that his wife died in childbirth along with their child. In the end the family was reunited in a happy ending with the help from the goddess Diana.

'PRINCE OF TYRE' Marianne Miller, as Diana, and Scott Ripley, as Pericles

The photo is a scene from the PlayMakers Repertory Company’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Pericles.” Marianne Miller appears as Diana, and Scott Ripley as Pericles. This is the scene where the goddess Diana enlightens the lead character about the truth about his wife and child.

Taking into account all of Pericles adventures, I believe he can be counted as a chivalrous hero who’s had both strange and exciting adventures around the world.

Romance is work dealing with events and charactersremote from ordinary life. William Shakespeare’s most magic-oriented work, for me, would be The Tempest.


John William Waterhouse: Miranda - The Tempest - 1916

Taking some lines from Wikipedia: “The Tempest is a play believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place, using illusion and skillful manipulation. He conjures up a storm, the eponymous tempest, to lure to the island his usurping brother Antonio and the complicit Alonso, King of Naples. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio’s low nature, the redemption of Alonso, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso’s son, Ferdinand.”

In the painting of John William Waterhouse, Miranda looks out into the sea where their ship lies wrecked. After such a disaster, she never thought that they would end up in an island with magical creatures and eventually find the love of her life and see her father do the ultimate act of a father’s love for her daughter. This portrait, I believe, captures the emotion of the female lead in the story because it creates this feeling of sadness and hopelessness felt by a girl who witnesses first hand the loss of an escape and an entry into the unknown.

In more than one way William Shakespeare has explored the depths of the true meaning of romance. In his own special and often unusual ways, he has shed more light onto the world of love and what it means to have the right to own it. I have learned a great deal more about what it takes to show another or other people the love one has for them. His writings have defined pain, happiness, and several other feelings, that even though we are aware of them in us, we cannot put out into words and acts.







Uploaded by Sancho Fernando F. Oaminal

  1. March 27, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Awww. this is light. Where did you get your definitions of the romance word? The essay doesn’t have depth at all because you were flowing in the lighter aspect of the word. If you were talking about romance why not add Winter’s Tale or Two Noble Kinsmen? And where did you specifically borrowed your first meaning of romance? It’s fetishizing the emotion of love in Romeo and Juliet too much.

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