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Research Report: Romeo and Juliet: A Facebook Tragedy

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 7 months ago

 

Research Report by Gregory Gin

 

By Gregory Gin, Romeo and Juliet: A Facebook Tragedy Team

 

 

Abstract:

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a tale of woe that takes place in the city of Verona. Unfortunately, an old family feud prevents two lovers from actualizing their love. Two star-crossed lovers, against their families' wishes, begin to secretly court each other to terrible effect. These events, comic and tragic, culminate into a secret plot to fake suicide in order to escape their families. Unfortunately, through factors outside the lovers' control, the plan is kept seperate from Romeo, who commits suicide upon learning of Juliet's “death.” Juliet then awakes from her slumber ony to find the body of her dead lover beside her. After her suicide, the Montagues and Capulets set aside their family feud, and mourn the deaths of their two children.

 

Description:

Romeo and Juliet is a play written by William Shakespeare in the 14th century. A written copy of the play first appeared in a quarto published in 1597. The tragedy plays on the bonds between kinsmen, sons, and daughters. Romeo is torn between following the Montague men into combat with the Capulets, and loving the daughter of the man he should hate. At first, Romeo allows his love for Juliet to rule his actions. He stops taking part in the battles between the two families. Instead, he continues to have secret trysts with Juliet, and goes so far as to secretly marry the young Capulet. Romeo comes at a crossroads when he is challenged to a duel by Tybalt. Mercutio takes Tybalt's challenge for Romeo, who does not want to duel an in-law family member. Tybalt mortally wounds Mercutio, and Romeo slays Tybalt out of revenge. This instance demonstrates the bonds of family that Romeo attempts to honor, and change at the same time. In not dueling Tybalt, Romeo is honoring the new family bond he has made with Juliet, and attempts to change the feelings that the Montagues have for the Capulets. Yet, when the blood of his friend is shed, Romeo reverts back to his old family allegiance and kills Tybalt. The bond of friendship between Romeo and Mercutio overrides the newly formed bond of family between Romeo and Tybalt. Romeo is pressured by both families to act in a certain way.

 

Juliet dedicates herself to her newly formed bond with Romeo. In exception to Romeo, Juliet only has one bond to break, the bond between herself and her family. Romeo had the problem of breaking the bonds between his family, friends, and honor, while Juliet had only her controlling family to break away from. Yet, this becomes an obstacle equivalent to Romeo's own set of problems. Juliet gives no evidence that she has ever disobeyed her family, and her own gender allows her to do little against the will of her father. With this in mind, Juliet succumbs to the plan at the end. In order to be with Romeo, she must fake her death, and forever escape the authority of her father. In the final few scenes, Juliet is dead to the citizens of Verona except for a few individuals, who do not include Romeo. Juliet breaks the social bonds between herself and her family to be with the man she loves.

 

Commentary:

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is one play of Shakespeare, which contains an emphasis on the bonds between kinsmen and family. The play focuses on both honoring these bonds, and the consequences of breaking bonds. Romeo and Juliet plays successfully into Facebook, because like Romeo and Juliet, Facebook focuses on the social network that surrounds an individual. The application, Friend Wheel, tracks down the relationships between people, mapping out the connections that people share through their friends and acquaintances. In each scene, the audience is introduced to a new relationship that is part of one of the two families, or the death of a member of one of the families.

 

The interplay between Facebook and Romeo and Juliet is limited though. Romeo and Juliet is a play that takes place through weeks of time, and Facebook can only represent the relationships that occur between characters for short snippets of time. In order to get around this problem, the project will save pages in order to show past events. After a character thread on Friend Wheel is lost, or broken, the actual pages will represent that change, but a saved webpage will remain to see the difference in the Friend Wheel.

 

 

Another problem faced in the interplay between Romeo and Juliet and Facebook is the idea of creating a biography for the characters contained within Romeo and Juliet. The characters are defined by their actions, and the reader has no other source of learning about the characters. The project wants to remain true to the characterizations of the players in the tragedy, but woud also like to translate these characters in a modern sense. Whether to remain true to the characters in a Shakespearian sense, or to transform them into a contemporary equivalent may have unforeseen consequences. The motivations of characters may change, and what once was deemed a reasonable response to factors would be considered silly, or foolish. The world that Romeo and Juliet occupy is one that is very different than the modern world. The idea of bonds still exists, but concepts of honor, dueling, masculinity are vastly different. Translating these values into a modern setting is near impossible, because the current age does not accept these old values fully.

 

 

Changing the characters moves the project into the realm of an adaption, which is not the aim of the project. The project wishes to map the social relationships between the characters. An adaption changes the result and benefit than the original project intends. The project is intended to be a tool that reveals the deeper connections between the Montagues and the Capulets. Perhaps there lies a stronger connection between the two families than the relationship between Romeo and Juliet.

 

 

Resources for Further Study:

Fletcher, Thomas. "Friend Wheel." Facebook.com. <http://www.facebook.com/applications/Friend_Wheel/2415325843>.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. Peter Holland. New York: Penguin Books, 2000

Zuckerberg, Mark. Facebook.com. 2004. 1 March 2008 <www.facebook.com>.

 

 

 

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