A graphic novel adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.

ISBN: 9781411498747

I’ve never read Romeo & Juliet. All I really knew was both lovers killed themselves. The Shakespearean text was hard to understand on my own. So this graphic novel was really useful for me in appreciating the full story.

There’s many interpretative layers to the play, I think. And many possibilities for re-makes and re-interpretations.

Here’s a ‘dark’ one: For instance, Romeo could have been a fickle knave rather than the naive lover, which meant Juliet’s death, as well as his, might have a different backstory. Or, Juliet could have been played up to be even more of a stubborn and rebellious (manipulative?) teen rather than being caught in a love triangle.

Rough notes:
The Montagues (Romeo’s family) and the Capulets (Juliet’s) were two rich and powerful families in the city of Verona (I think renaissance period Italy).

Romeo was at first pandering over an unrequited love (a Rosaline, who never quite appeared in person) but quickly changed his mind after he saw Juliet. The chance encounter came when Romeo, egged on by his friend and cousin, gate-crashed a Capulet dinner party in disguise.

Romeo then famously wooed and Juliet with his charm and words, after he sneaked into the Capulet family home grounds and under Juliet’ balcony. (What a charmer! Or maybe Juliet’s not so bright. And yes there seems to be a lot of sneaking around).

Romeo and Juliet got themselves married secretly, with the help of Romeo’s friend Friar Lawrence.

But on that same day when they got married in secret, Tybalt (Juliet’s cousin) ends up being killed by Romeo in a revenge-fight, because Tybalt picked a fight and sneakily killed Mercuto (Romeo’s friend).

That very day, Romeo was also banished, as punishment for the clan duel and murder.

Juliet was heartbroken to learn of the death of a cousin and the banishment of her still-secret husband.

(prior to Romeo’s leaving his city, he manages to sneak into Juliet’s room and spent the night there. So scandalous! Heh. All that with the help of Juliet’s nurse and a rope ladder).

Juliet’s father then made a hasty decision to marry her to a nobleman Count Paris. When he told Juliet about it, he was furious at His only daughter’s seemingly smarmy response about non-marriage. He issued an ultimatum: marry Count Paris or be disowned.

That forced Juliet to seek Friar Lawrence’s help.

He devised a plan: he gave Juliet a concoction that would allow her to fake her death. He and Romeo would wait or her to be revived and the couple would sneak away. All that, the friar intended to inform Romeo by way of a letter.

It all went to plan, at first. Juliet drank the mix and appeared dead on her wedding day to Count Paris (poor man). Her wedding celebrations became funeral preparations (her poor parents!)

But the first sign of a SNAFU was when the letter never made it to Romeo (a quarantine due to a suspected plague outbreak).

Romeo receives word from a servant that Juliet was dead. He rushed off to see his beloved, armed with poison so as to die at her side.

Unexpectedly Count Paris showed up at the tomb that night. He caught Romeo attempting a tomb break-in.

They duel.

Romeo killed the count (for a supposedly naive romantic dude, Romeo was quite the fighter!)

He carried the count’s body into the tomb, said his final words to Juliet, drank the poison.

“Thus with a kiss I die.”

Goodbye, Romeo.

By then, the Friar discovered the carnage at the scene. So too, did Juliet as she woke.

The friar was unable to persuade Juliet to leave. He fled.

Juliet famously plunges the dagger into herself: “Oh happy knife, this is your sheath! Rust there and let me die.”

It all came to an end when the friar was caught fleeing the scene. He revealed everything in front of the Prince of Verona, and both fathers of the two dead lovers.

The two heartbroken old men, rebuked by the prince, make up on the spot.

A seemingly happy ending to a tragic sequence of events.