According to my middle school English teacher, in order for a piece of literature to be considered a classic, it must be one of two things: either the first of a new genre of literature or be considered one of the best in a genre. There are many books and plays that have rightfully earned their place as classics, but there is one piece of literature that I feel is utterly undeserving of this title. I refer to William Shakespeare’s famed “Romeo and Juliet.”
Almost every single character is lacking in basic problem-solving skills. Their decisions clueless, their motivations senseless and their causes ridiculous, each stumbles through events in the worst possible way. The only commendable aspect of the book is that Shakespeare puts down a great deal of them before they can reproduce.
For any of you which happen to be unfamiliar with the plot of Romeo and Juliet, you should’ve paid attention when you were in high school. Worry not though, I will sarcastically oversimplify it to prove my point anyway.
A fourteen-year-old boy named Romeo is horny so his stupid friends convince him to go to a masked ball hosted by his rival family. I don’t mean rival family as in “we hold a yearly baseball game against another” but more like “we will kill you for looking at us wrong.” This plot literally starts by looking for love in all the wrong places.
After meeting and falling for a girl at the party, the boy sneaks onto her family property to proclaim his love for her. The girl, Juliet, is also fourteen, so rather than see this as an act of poor decision making and uncomfortably quick attachment, she is enamored by this act.
So obviously they agree to get married.
Naturally, some of Juliet’s family members are a little bit peeved that he attended their ball, so one of her cousins attempts to kill him in a duel. Except Romeo now has decided that the other family is his kin, therefore he won’t duel him. Worry not, blood sport fans, Romeo’s cousin, age fourteen, steps forward to duel for him and gets murdered. Upon discovering the kid won’t fight him, he kills a different kid because someone had to die, it was the admission fee or something.
Romeo kills the shit out of the other kid in righteous fury and gets him kicked out of town for it. Juliet, apparently not bothered by the fact that it has taken a matter of days for teenagers to begin killing each other in the streets over her, is broken up that her boyfriend has been exiled. Rather than just leaving town to be with him, she decides that the best course of action is faking her death with some sort of knockout juice so she sends a courier to Romeo to tell him of her plan.
Apparently, that courier was morbidly obese because the news of Juliet’s “death” reaches Romeo before her message does. So Romeo wastes no time going to her tomb and killing himself next to her. Juliet wakes up and sees her husband of two weeks dead at her feet and decides life is no longer worth living so she also decides that her only recourse is suicide.
Never in the whole play does anyone stop to say “maybe I’m overreacting.” The plot could never be considered anything more than a joke. It’s like Shakespeare was trying to write on a deadline and just found the first script he wrote at age nine and only fixed the grammar.