Plays/Scripts

Book Review: Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – Paperback, 160 pages – Published November 5th 2000 by Wordsworth Classics

I’m pretty sure everyone is familiar with this play; the infamous rivalry between two houses, the children of which fall hopelessly in love.

As I’m studying this play for my exams at school, I’m not going to make this review too long or detailed. It’s more just going to be a little recap on what I thought about this book.

So we all know the story of the Capulets and Mountagues; they have been enemies for years. The son of Mountague, young Romeo, is heartbroken by his strong but unrequited love for Rosaline. In an attempt to remove his thoughts from the matter, his friends suggest attending a party at the house of the Capulets.

Here is where he meets fair Juliet. Love at first sight; instantly, Romeo has forgotten about his previous love and pain and is infatuated with this new woman. But can they ever be together, when they parents hate each other so?

The pair decide to marry in secret, with the help of Friar Lawrence and Juliet’s maid. But within the same day, Romeo is banished from Verona after killing Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin. He should have been sentenced to death, but Tybalt himself was guilty of murdering Mercutio, and so Romeo is pardoned that sentence. To this newly married couple, banishment is worse than death, for they fear they will never see one another again. Even worse, Juliet is due to marry Count Paris.

To get around this tricky situation, Friar Lawrence helps Juliet devise a plan. She is to drink a sleeping potion that gives the illusion of death; Romeo is then to find her, and together they can run away and live happily ever after. However, Romeo does not hear of the plan, and believes his wife to truly be dead. He purchases poison to end his own life, drinking it just moments before Juliet awakens. She then kills herself out in anguish, leaving both families shocked and in despair.

Romeo is such a headstrong, passionate character. He feels so strongly about everything, and doesn’t tend to think before he acts. Personally, I think he’s rather immature and frankly a bit of a drama queen. Did he ever really love either women, or was he just too obsessed with the idea of love?

As for Juliet, we see her become more independent after meeting Romeo. She beings to think about her own wants, rather than those of her parents. Of course, she’s very young and new to the idea of love, hence her shockingly passionate and forward decisions. At the time this was written, a young girl such as Juliet feeling so strongly about someone she barely knows would have been practically unheard of.

The characters and their relationships are very interesting in this play. The death of Mercutio is very clever; he’s such a lively character, the death is truly dramatic.

I’m really not a romance kinda gal, but I can still appreciate this tragic tale. It can be rather hard to follow Shakespeare’s writing, but it is pretty good when you get into it. I think I’ll give this play 4 stars.

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Book Review: An Inspector Calls

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An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley – Hardback, 81 pages Published January 12th 1992 by Heinemann Educational Books

My GCSEs are coming up soon, and I was told that this play may be included. I remember a few people saying how much they loved this book and my school had a spare copy so I thought I may as well give it a read.

Wow. I didn’t really look into the synopsis of this before I read it, and I’m kind of glad I didn’t. The story unfolded so beautifully, and the Inspector’s questions kept me gripped throughout the whole play. I was just desperate to know what had happened!

This is a pretty unique book in the way that they all talk about what happened in the past. Basically, a police inspector arrives and begins asking the group about a girl who has apparently committed suicide. None of them know her at first, until the inspector reminds them of the nasty things that they had each done to her. Slowly, we learn of the girl’s life and put together all the pieces from each person’s story.

This really is a great book! Honestly, I’m not much interested in plays and scripts, but this was just such a great read. It really makes you think about how your actions and words may affect someone in the long-run, and how much of an impact you can have on a stranger’s life.

I sped through most of this in one evening. It is a short book, but the main reason I read it so fast is just because it was so very gripping and interesting. This is definitely a new favourite of mine; 5 stars!

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Book Review: Macbeth

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Macbeth by William Shakespeare – Paperback, 128 pages – Published 2005 by Wordsworth Editions

So we’re studying extracts of this play in English at the moment, and I decided to read the whole thing through. I’m not going to write a proper review on it, as I’ll be writing an essay on the book soon for school and would just get too fed up of it!

I’m pretty sure everyone is aware of Shakespeare’s writing. He was, of course, a play-write, not intending for any of his stories to be simply read off a page. Macbeth (or “The Scottish Play”) is one of his most popular, powerful plays, with a famous superstition stemming from it.

The story follows Macbeth after he meets three witches – the Weyard Sisters – who predict that he will become a powerful man, and eventually king. His wife, Lady Macbeth, is desperate for him to achieve this power, and urges Macbeth to assassinate the current king. Macbeth becomes arrogant, and drunk on power. In the end, he loses himself to the crown.

Lady Macbeth is an intriguing character. She is willing to give up anything and everything for the position of queen, but when it finally happens, she is ridden with guilt. She spends her nights sleepwalking, trying to remove the blood of the king from her hands.

Macbeth himself is also rather interesting. We see him become more cocky as the Sisters tell him that he cannot die by the hand of any man who is of woman-born – because of this, he believes himself to be invincible. Of course, that isn’t quite the case.

Shakesperean writing isn’t the easiest to read. The language is old and hard to understand for many people, not to mention that William Shakespeare liked to make his own vocabulary up. But the general gist of the plot is easy enough to follow, and it is a rather powerful play. There are tons of movie adaptations, including one to be released next month. It’s a short book, but not a quick and easy read as it takes a bit of effort to decode the writing. So I’m going to have to say Macbeth gets 3.5 stars from me.

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