2010년 12월 9일 목요일

I . Introduction : archetypes of Romeo and Juliet

Have you ever imagined a love story like Romeo and Juliet ? We always dream of such a romantic love. But someone says the romantic love is only a fictional ideal which humanity wants to come true some day. It means that romanticism is dead and memory is luxurious these days. So I propose to examine the story of Romeo and Juliet chronologically.
This typical romantic story is one of the most famous tragedies written by Shakespeare in the 16th century. But we can find some archetypes of Romeo and Juliet in the previous literatures. These main themes are Love and Death.

("Cleopatra" painted by Waterhouse)

First of all, we can give an example of Roman history “Antony and Cleopatra”. Of course, Shakespeare wrote a historic tragedy based on this real story. According to Roman history, Mark Antony, who is a member of the staff of Caesar, fell in love with Egypt’s Queen, Cleopatra. So he broke off his relations with his fellow, Octavius Caesar. However this love ended tragically. Defeated by Octavius Caesar in the Battle of Actium, Mark Antony escaped to see finally Cleopatra and killed himself. In front of his death, elle also resolved to kill herself using the poison of an asp.

( From Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" )

For the second, the legend of Tristan and Iseult is related to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, too. This medieval tale inspired Richard Wagner to compose the opera Tristan and Isolde, considered one of the most influential music today. In the Celtic ages, the young knight “Tristan” assumed the responsibility for bringing the Irish princess Iseult, because his uncle wanted to marry her. At first, Tristan was not indifferent to Iseult. One day, they drank by accident a love potion because of thirst. Since then, they loved each other and died for their love.
According to these two stories, a hero fall in love with a heroine and they die together. In brief, their love has something to do with destined and tragic love, and Love and Death are bound up each other for them.

written by Kim Taeyoung

II. Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare : tragedy based on the legend of Verona

  "Romeo and Juliet" tragedy is based on the legend of Verona. "Romeo and Juliet" and opera "Vedi's Aida" came from Verona which has amphitheater and Adige river in Roman era. Lombardia dominated Verona and it prospered in 12~13 centuries.

  There was power struggle between Guelfi and Ghibellines in 13~14 centuries. This struggle made "Romeo and Juliet" tragic.


  Verona designated one of mansions in 14 century as Capulets' to protected the beautiful and sorrow play, "Romeo and Juliet". When people visited this house, they used to rubbed right breast in Juliet bronze. Nobody, however, explained the reason why they did like that.

  I would like to tell about the power struggle between Guelfi and Ghibellines. The feud between two parties has gone for a long time because of conflict of interest. Feudal nobleman classes belonged to Guelfi and rich trading classes belonged to Ghibellines. Verona in Italy had power struggle same as other cities.
Each family belonged to Guelfi or Ghibellines and it was very often that they killed and banished each other from Verona. In addition, this situation would get worse if both families couldn't hold dominant position.
  Because "Romeo and Juliet" was written in this era, it seems that many political factors made two families mutual enemies. Romeo and Juliet, born in their feuding families, fell in love each other. And their tragic death made two familes reconciled. Because Shakespeare's original play was based on love and death, two main character is regarded as the archetype of couple.

III. Adaptation for the movie 1 : starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey in 1968

  Among many stage performances, plays and the films based on literary works, the movie ‘Romeo and Juliet’ released in 1968 has been receiving high marks as the world’s best.


  This movie was very close to original play because real teenagers acted in the movie. Since the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ premiered in 1968, the director, the actors and the actresses have been very famous. Let’s see the reason why this movie has been regarded as one of the finest movie ever made.

  The director of this movie was from Franco Zeffirelli in Italy. He focused on this ‘Romeo and Juliet’and planed to do big event before starting on the project.

  He advertised for new actress aged in 15 all over the world. After that, he had an interview with hundreds of girls who would like to be an actress.


  This tried is the first reason why the movie has been received high praise all over the world. He casted original play's two main character to unknown actor. They were almost same age compared to original play actor's age. At that time, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting 's appearance was very shoking to other people. And Franco Zeffirelli showed passion to his movie with bloking to actors.

  Second reason is director Franco Zeffirelli, was designer at past, made his movie lyrically and beautifully. He directed many times this play at Englnad, Shakespeare's hometown. And Impressive primary color clothes have an effort on his movie. Eventhough we see today, the image is brilliant and elegant.

IV. Adaptation for the movie 2 : starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes in 1996

  Since the "Romeo and Juliet" released in 1968, there has been no work almost close to the original. However, an exception started in Australia.

  This exception is a playwriter Baz Luhrmann who wrote play in his spare time working as assistant director. He did the play 'Strictly Ballroom (Dancing hero) in 1980' into a movie in 1992 and he standed out for movie director. He also made the popular pop songs and the classic of Shakespeare into music video style in the movie.

  And the old words in the original were used instead of modern english. Although this was very dangerous decision, it was very critical factor in "Romeo and Juliet". He wrote a film script by himself using this old words and shoot the film. The men who dressed up with guns spoke "put the sword down".

  In 1968 "Romeo and Juliet", sportlighted actor was Olivia Hussey. By contrast, in 1996 "Romeo and Juliet", sportlighted actor changed Juliet to Romeo, Leonardo Dicaprio.

  This movie, made as music video form, has many kinds of music like funky, techno, and alternative. Among them, a representative of the movie theme song sung by the British Des'ree is 'Kissing You'. This song was sung at the party where Romeo and Juliet first met. Des'ree was appeared at this movie and she sang this song in person.


  Baz Luhrmann made this movie with unusual ideas. Then he became a famous director. Among unusual ideas, however, he was reflected original play's basis that Love and Death.

V. Adaptation for the French musical in 2001

The French musical based on Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet is a good example of its adaptation. Romeo and Juliet : from hatred to love, the title of this French version, was produced for the first time in Paris on January 19, 2001 by Gerard Presgurvic.

( song "Lovers" in "Romeo and Juliet" )

This French musical, quite different from Shakespeare’s plot, was represented in the original method. The family of Romeo has on blue and the family of Juliet is dressed in red, so the hostile atmosphere between two families is maximized by the contrast of two colors. And besides, the new character Death, wearing a white dress and personified, always accompany two heroes, Romeo and Juliet who will die together, and the appearance of Poet is for dramatic effect. Especially, many of beautiful French songs make a deep impression on the audience, for example, Verona, Kings of the world, These are my rivers, God knows why, etc.

Owing to a great success in France, this musical was performed in Canada, London, Moscow, South Korea, Taipei and Japan. It was also represented in Seoul and in Pusan from 20 January 2007 to 21 March 2007. Surprisingly, the ticket of the musical was sold out during several weeks. After its appreciation, Korean audience showed an enthusiastic reaction. Since then, Korean fans of the French musical were formed throughout the country.

("Romeo and Juliet" painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti)

A great success of adapted Shakespeare’s play, what does this mean? Its success is because the death of two adolescents for their love seems to be the most beautiful scene for our contemporaries. That is to say, it means that the romanticism is dead because of its irrationalism opposed to the modernity, but we always dream of destined and fatal love which would not exist anywhere from the rational point of view.

written by Kim Tae-young

VI. Conclusion : analysis of Romeo and Juliet based on Eros and Thanatos

Until now, we examined Shakespeare’s play, its archetypes and various adaptations chronologically. And at the same time, we understood that the main theme of Romeo and Juliet is Love and Death, which were interpreted as Eros and Thanatos by psychoanalyst Freud.
( "Kiss" made by Antonio Canova )

Eros and Thanatos, who are two Greek gods, form an opposite couple. According to the Freudian psychoanalysis, man has an innate tendency for aggression and for destruction. It’s the instinct of death, Thanatos. This instinct is distinct from that of life, Eros, which is an energetic manifestation.
But the opposition between the two instincts is only superficial. In fact, they have something in common, tending toward excitability, and in addition, Thanatos shows itself better in relation to the pleasure, for example, the sadism, the masochism and the suicide.

http://www.artknowledgenews.com/freuds-eros-and-thanatos-theory-of-drives.html ( Freud's "Eros and Thanatos" theory )

( "Narcissus" painted by Caravaggio )

Above all, concerning the suicide, which brings about the tragedy of two heroes in Romeo and Juliet, Thanatos is expressed for the absence of the pain and for the pleasure without pain. In other words, like Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare’s drama, Antony and Cleopatra in Roman history, Tristan and Iseult in the medieval legend, the suicide removes the pain of deep sadness caused by the death of lover.

("Suicide" painted by Edouard Manet )

As stated above, Eros and Thanatos, that is, Love and Death are closely connected each other. And now we understand that their art, including their literature, makes these two concepts its central themes because they are two capital taboos of humanity. Therefore, not because of its romanticism, but because of its taboo, our contemporaries are probably attracted by the love like Romeo and Juliet.

written by Kim Taeyoung