Journal Entry #3
Life Vs. Death
William Shakespeare's epic play, Romeo and Juliet, would not be the same without Romeo and Juliet's final decisions to kill themselves. For one, it would not be a tragedy, but it would have a quirky, happy ending as in "Sleepless in Seattle" with a lot of smiling and "I love you's" . It would also have little to do with life and death and I would not be writing a paper about it.
All I remember about this class is that I fucking hated the teacher. I always thought I hid it better than this, though.
All throughout the play, they are the epitomy of life, they talk shit, go to parties, have sex, and all the other things you do when you are a teenager and you know you have to settle down at some point so you want to get all the partying done between ages 12 and 18.
Jesus, the cursing! How did I get away with this?
I had a terrible relationship with authority all through my childhood. From parents to, eventually, law enforcement, I resented every utterance designed to get me to do something, even if it was something I wanted to do anyway. My teachers probably got the worst of it, since every class had a built-in studio audience of my peers that I could use as a laugh-track. Whenever I meet teachers now, I want to apologize on behalf of their most monstrous students’ future selves.
Romeo and his friends go to a Capulet party, just to crash it. Romeo sneaks into Juliet's house, knowing he could be killed for being there, but not caring. He is a teenager, and therefore invincible to the long arm of the law. The play gives a very large sense of life. Juliet and her beau elope, sneak into each each other's bedrooms, and have forbidden sex because they know they can.
Speaking of doing things just because you know you can, why am I mentioning sex? Did Romeo and Juliet even have sex? God, what an incredible little shit I was.
The last scene is when we are finally exposed to death. Shakespeare flirts with it in earlier scenes, (Juliet threatens to kill herself, Mercutio and Tybalt are killed), but those are subplots, footnotes if you will. We were not attached to Mercutio or Tybalt, and their deaths were just obstacles in Romeo and Juliet's being together. When Romeo sees Juliet in the tomb, dead, we feel his pain, but also want to cry out "Romeo, you stupid shit! She's just sleeping! wait a minute!"
There’s the s-word again. Utterly pointless, as usual.
My poor teacher must have felt like a Doberman being poked with a stick. I don’t even remember why I hated her so much.
But Romeo would rather take his own life than live without Juliet, and vise versa. Theirs is true love.
I’m clearly mocking her with that last part. This was the teacher who made us watch scenes from ‘Ally McBeal’ in class, and I think I caught a whiff of her approval-seeking and pounced. I never would have written ‘true love’ seriously at that age.
We are told of their deaths at the beginning of the play, which casts a shadow over the proceedings of the play. I think Shakespeare wanted us to feel their life all throughout the play, because it made the final blow that much more sad.
There I am, railing against foreshadowing again. My favourite movie at this age was ‘Ernest Goes to Camp,’ so when I critique the narrative techniques of Romeo and Juliet, you know, you best listen.
I think about 85 percent of my actions between 1994 and 2002 were primarily motivated by seeing what I could get away with. I almost never got in Official Trouble in middle and high school, but I was always on the verge of it. I got sent to the principal’s office often enough that I probably kept a toothbrush there, but I never got sent home.
My escape-hatch was usually ‘I’m sorry I’m acting out in class. I’m just not being challenged.’ Or, when taking heavy fire, ‘I think there might be something wrong with my eyes.’ I never hinted at problems at home, since that might result in a call there.
I imagine my poor teacher looking up from her desk as I re-enter the class she ejected me from 15 minutes earlier. I’m probably smirking; Hannibal emerging from the foothills. She sighs, audibly, as I take my seat.