I have recently been reading through Shakespeare. I don’t remember ever reading any of his plays, not even in high school. I can see why he is so famous. His plays have the ability to speak his point very well, without being too overt. So far I’ve read seven of his plays and they are all powerful and beautiful in their own right. Julius Caesar is my favorite so far, but I will have to say Timon of Athens is a close second. I really enjoyed both of those plays.
As I started reading Shakespeare, I read many with Hadassah my seven-year-old daughter. We started with Romeo and Juliet and it is interesting to see Shakespeare through her eyes. Most of the subtle parts fly over her head, and I’m thankful for that, but she enjoys the language and the drama that Shakespeare brings.
She was hooked when Romeo and Juliet fell in love. We got to the balcony scene and she thought this was the most wonderful love story of all time. We have played out the balcony scene many times since and I’m sure many more to come.
We did have to talk through what a Montague and Capulet are. They are last names as well as clans. I had described this by using a friend of ours. We pretended that we were at war with them but then she fell in love with their son. We talked through how things could change if two opposing families were brought together by love. It was fun to play this out and talk about it in a way that she could understand. Bringing it down to her level helped her get more from this play.
There is so much chaos in this play. There is a ton of foolishness. It also drips with drama. I thought that it might be a bit much for Hadassah but she hung in there. If you were to ask her about the play, she would tell you that she didn’t like that everyone dies at the end, but that she liked the play, and she likes Shakespeare.
She loved that Romeo and Juliet got married. That their love turned into marriage was beautiful to the eyes of a seven-year-old. I had a ton of questions about it. While reading this, I was the dad and Hadassah was in love with love. I thought that Juliet, being 14, seemed a bit too young to me. I also wondered how their love was so deep after just meeting each other, even though there seemed to be a genuine romantic connection. I also wondered how long this relationship would last because the play opens with Romeo using deeply romantic language for some other woman that he would never abandon, I wonder about his faithfulness. It seems as though this relationship was doomed from the moment they set eyes on one another. However, through Hadassah’s eyes it was going to be happily ever after; her imagination allowed for far greater possibilities than my dad view.
Hadassah also liked that the two families became friends at the end. She saw this as love’s victory. That in the end it all worked out for the Montagues and Capulets. She hated that they were fighting, she couldn’t figure out why the feud had to be there in the first place, but then again she loves people. Even though my rational thoughts wanted to explain to her that feuds happen, I went with her conclusion that their fighting was bad. Her imagination opened up the possibility of peace, for peace's sake. They could have humbled themselves and allowed love to win out. She doesn’t think that it should have taken the death of Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Romeo, and Juliet to have peace. In her mind these deaths could have been prevented and peace in the city of Verona could have ended in marriage rather than death.
There is much to say about the naivety of a seven-year-old. Hadassah doesn’t understand all that is going on in Romeo and Juliet. I suppose if I thought she could understand it, I wouldn’t have read it with her. But her love of love and her hope that love will prevail is beautiful. It inspires me to use the imagination of a little kid and to see the world a bit differently, setting aside my dad view and seeing the world with new possibilities. Maybe with a bit of hope and love the outcome can be different.