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There are two ways of reading Romeo and Juliet, one of which is correct, in the sense that it is the way that Shakespeare meant it to be read and understood, and the other is incorrect, in the sense that it violates and perverts Shakespeare’s intentions.

The incorrect way of reading the play, which is the way that modern critics and teachers read it and teach it, involves what might be called a romantic reading. This way of seeing the play perceives the love between Romeo and Juliet as being blameless and beautiful. The feuding families, and especially the parents, are blamed for the tragedy. The correct way of reading the play is what might be called the moral or cautionary approach in which the tragedy is caused by the abandonment of reason in the face of erotic love or communal hatred.



Act 1

Act 2

Act 3

Act 4

Act 5


 from SparkNotes: Historical Context

 from SparkNotes: Themes

 from SparkNotes: Symbols

 from CliffsNotes: About Romeo and Juliet

 from CliffsNotes: Major Themes

 from CliffsNotes: The Role of Comic Characters in a Tragedy