Looking for love in all the wrong plays: Romeo and Juliet vs. Much Ado About Nothing

The Stake


by Bethany Taylor

I work in a high school library. It leads to interactions like this:

Student, hesitantly: I’m, like, looking for Romeo and Juliet?
Bethany, wearily: Aren’t we all?

This is the play we look for, we teach: a story of romance that is star-cross and permastitched into our cultural DNA. Our cultural ideal for romantic love is now a couple of randy teeny-boppers from the Medieval 1% who meet, woo, wed, fuck, passionately separate, and die within a week.

That seems limiting. I really think that we’re doing the play, love, and ourselves a huge disservice.

I write this as someone who loves Romeo and Juliet enormously. I memorized most of it when I was fourteen—which is about as effective a chastity belt as one can find hope to find. And, while I’ve never loved anyone on the wrong side of my family’s legendary blood-feud, I have fallen so…

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