Monday, March 9, 2009

Romeo and Juliet

“In fair Verona where we lay our scene,” a young lover sits alone preoccupied with endless thoughts of his unrequited love. He puffs his cigarette and squints up at the clouds as if doing so would pass the long, sad hours. He isolates himself in his own world of infatuation, and is “Under love’s heavy burden,” as he puts it. In his surroundings he is an enemy waiting to be hunted by Capulets and by fate. This is Romeo Montague, age fourteen, confused, romantic figure, destined for true love, hated by Capulets, and fated to die.

The new setting of an ancient play put into modern times is really what makes Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet so interesting. This contemporary version of the film allows people of today relate to the times of yesterday, and relate to Romeo’s character more effectively. The scenery of Romeo and Juliet is used very favorably to explain Romeo and his behaviors. The first seen shows the towers of Montague and Capulet, with the church of God between the “The two households, alike in dignity”. The only three things that both these families have in common is the love they have for themselves as a family, the hatred they have for one another, and their faith in God. This scene foreshadows the whole movie, and how love and religion comes between two families of hate. The scenery seems to change with every mood of each event. The first scene Romeo is in, he sits by himself on a very desolate beach. This scenery sets the mood of Romeo. He is a very confused young man, who longs for love with a girl named Rosaline. When Romeo’s parents pull up in the car where he sits, he turns away from them. Romeo is seen off in the distance from his parent’s eyes. This explains how Romeo is shutting his family out, and he is trying to cope with things on his own. Later on in the movie, when Romeo attends Capulet’s feast, the party scenery is very happy and celebrative. Romeo, on the other hand, is miserable. This scenery foreshadows the love he is about to meet, the fair Juliet. After this, the scenery changes to the pool below Juliet’s room. The scenery is very beautiful and it glows just like Romeo’s face when he sees his Juliet. The darkness gives the two more privacy from the world around them, and also gives the scene an intimate touch. Romeo risks his life to see her once again that very night by climbing the walls of the Capulet’s house. Next, when the two are to be married, the church is empty, except for a choir. This can be explained by the civil conflicts the two families would have if they knew of the two lovers marriage. There is no one to celebrate their love with them, because their families would be highly against it. After the two are married and Tybalt challenges Romeo to a brawl, the scenery becomes very dark and windy, especially when Mercutio dies. Romeo rampages and goes after Tybalt and kills him. The ironic thing is, Romeo kills Tybalt right under a statue of Jesus. Romeo looks up at the statue and mimics Jesus by raising his hands. He then shouts, “I am forgiven!” The whole scene shows how God was already there to forgive Romeo for the death of Tybalt. The quick action and dark scenery is used to show Romeo’s rage to kill. Last, the most tragic and compelling scene would have to be the final scene of the movie. The scene of the young lovers suicides shows how the two feel the only way to preserve their love is to take their lives.
Many influential people in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet dictate Romeos’ character. Romeo is seen as a frustrated young man who cannot have a woman he is falsely in love with. The Montague gang persists on him finding new interest, but Rosaline’s denial of Romeo’s love, reflects a great deal on him. He finds happiness in nothing, and he is very depressed because of Rosaline. Romeo takes the love drug (ecstasy) given to him by Mercutio as to ease the pain before they attend Capulet’s feast.

Mercutio is another effective character on Romeo. Mercutio is a playful character in this movie and is always criticizing the people around him, including Romeo and his youthful need to be loved. First off, Mercutio talks Romeo into attending Capulet’s feast. Romeo was not interested and found more pleasure in grieving over Rosaline. If it had not been for Mercutios' persistence on Romeo, Romeo would have never met Juliet. Another reason Mercutio was an effective character to Romeo was when he died. Mercutio steps in to beat down Tybalt during Romeo and Tybalt’s brawl, and ends up getting killed. If Mercutio would have never allowed himself to get involved, Romeo would have never killed Tybalt, he never would have been banished, and he never would have killed himself in the mistaken event of his wife’s death. When Mercutio died he put the story out of fates hands and proclaimed that the two houses were responsible for his death, “A plague o' both your houses! They have made worms meat of me: I have it, And soundly too: your houses.”

Another strong reflection on Romeo is his last name, and his love Juliet. He is a Montague, enemy of the mighty Capulets. When he first sets eyes on Juliet he is emerged into love by her beauty, and is over Rosaline within the very moment he sees Juliet. Romeo then comes to find that she is a Capulet and “His life is his foe’s debt.” It once again puts a burden on his love, but this time Romeo stops at nothing to have Juliet, and even risks his life to see her once more that night. Juliet has a good effect on Romeo, and he becomes more of a man realizing the love the two have for one another. Juliet brings out Romeo’s shallow desire to be in love, to an intense passion. She also inspires him to be the man she needs him to be. For example, when he kisses her and she replies, “You kiss by the book.” She is implying that he lacks originality and shows how Romeo loves by the book. He matures over the course of the play, and the two create a deep passion with one another. Romeo is greatly affected by her love, and even accepts his enemy as his family by refusing to fight Juliet’s cousin Tybalt. This event causes Mercutio to die and many following events to cause the death of the two star-crossed lovers. Romeos’ character also affects Juliet. When Juliet meets Romeo it is her first full-force toward adulthood. She takes her only enemies name in marriage against her families will, and fakes her death so she can be with her love. Romeo’s romantic figure towards Juliet has her making on the spot decisions, like marriage on the their second date, and her taking her life because of her intense love she felt for Romeo.

Tybalt is an enemy that could have put the story Romeo and Juliet into a completely different conclusion. Tybalt raises a feud between Romeo and himself right after Romeo marries Tybalt’s cousin Juliet. Romeo’s knowledge of the connection they share causes him to restrain himself from fighting. He loves Juliet so much that he overthrows the hate between her family and his own. This shows how Romeo is a very noble man and that his love means more than his families ancient grudge. In doing this, his best friend Mercutio is killed. Mercutio’s death effects Romeo with such force that he kills his new cousin Tybalt in rage.
Friar Laurence is the sole figure of religion in this movie. He is affected by Romeo in the agreement to marry Juliet and himself. The only reason that the Friar agrees to marry the two is to end the civil strife between the two families. Friar Laurence is also an aid for Juliet by giving her sleeping potion when Romeo is banished; therefore, the two lovers could reunite. The priest is very influential and a helpful aid in advice, making it possible for the two to be together, but the Friar also brings fate upon Romeo and Juliet. If the priest had given Romeo the letter in time, Romeo would have never killed himself next to his sleeping Juliet.

Romeo’s clothing shows a big part of his personality as well. He is a very laid back person, and he is very settle, yet modern with his style. In the first scene he is dressed in a black suit as if he was going to a funeral. This explains the unhappiness he was feeling after the denial of his love to Rosaline. At the Capulet’s feast Romeo is dressed in a knight costume portraying his characteristics as a noble, handsome, courageous, daring, gentlemen. Juliet was dressed as an angel portraying her innocence as a young, sheltered woman. Romeo is always wearing a cross around his neck and a gun on his back. This explains that he fears no one, and keeps God above all.

The cinematography was very interesting in some of the scenes shown in the movie. In the beginning of the movie the producers distinctly made it clear to show who was a Montague and who was a Capulet by zooming in on their guns and license plates that had one of the names engraved on it. In the third civil brawl they made the camera very quick to change from person to person making it an intense scene. This was also the case in events leading up to Tybalt’s death, but when Romeo was shooting him and screaming the camera was slow motion. This was very effective in the way that you really looked into what he was doing not only to Tybalt but with his relationship with Juliet and himself. Once Romeo met Juliet the camera made every scene with them together seem very intimate with close shots on their faces. Also, when Romeo kills Tybalt, he looks up at the Jesus statue. The statue is shown from a shot looking up toward it, representing that no matter how much power is within the hand of man, he is the power. The most influential cinematography was at the end of the movie. After the two star-crossed lovers’ take their lives, their bodies are positioned next to one another forming a cross with the candles that surround them. The camera shot is directly above them, representing that they were now in God’s hands.

Was the story of Romeo and Juliet all based on fate? There could have been many outcomes of this beautiful love story. Had Romeo restrained himself from killing Tybalt, or even waited one more day before killing himself after hearing the news of Juliet’s death, situations might have happened differently. These extreme behaviors that Romeo did show and did act upon is what dominates him throughout the story. If Romeo did not have such depths of feeling, the love he shared with Juliet would never have existed in the first place. Romeo starts out as a young man entangled in superficial notions of love and progresses into a complex romantic relationship. Romeo ultimately fails in his efforts to live happily ever after with his “heart’s dear love” “For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

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The successful story of the cloning of Dolly the sheep was a big step forward for the scientific world. However, it also triggered much controversy on different issues about cloning such as whether or not we should permit cloning on other animals, specifically humans. Human Cloning should be permitted since it will do great things for us such as allowing couples who are unable to reproduce have a biological child, keep recessive genes alive and provide the ability to produce organs to save lives and cure diseases.

Allowing couples unable to reproduce through procreation to have a biological child will most certainly prove to be a better alternative for those couples instead of adopting a child. Sterile women will now have the chance of having a biological baby to experience the full extent of having a child. Before with adoption they may not have cared for the child as much as they could whereas, now with the option of cloning a biological child can be produced which may give the parents more pride in the child’s achievements. (Gibbs, Nancy. 2001). As well as sterile women, homosexuals who wish to have a child with their life partner will be able to have a biological child. (President's Council on Bioethics, Cloning-to-Produce-Children; Cloning-for-Biomedical-Research, Nov 28, 2001). Widows are unable to have children with their partner since they have passed away, however with the help of cloning they could create a baby with the genes of their partner giving them something to remember their deceased loved one by. The loss of a loved one is always tragic and some people may be clouded by thoughts and strong emotions that their judgement may be impaired which may in the end take their life, with a biological baby it will give them something to live for as well as someone to care for again. (Gibbs, Nancy. 2001). Cloning children is definitely a good idea since it allows everyone to be able to have the opportunity to experience having their own biological child, however whether they take this opportunity is up to them.

In addition to reproduction, through cloning, recessive genes will not be shadowed by the dominant gene traits and disappear eventually. As Canadians we have had encounters with many different cultures and friends of many different backgrounds. We take pride in our society’s multiculturalism and diversity. Without cloning the diversity that we cherish so much will disappear before our eyes. All the red hair, blonde hair, blue eyes will one day be extinct if we do not keep them alive by cloning. The day that the recessive traits die out may occur millennia’s from now, however if another genocide was to take place; a whole race would most likely be wiped out with the weapons that nations possess now. With the aid of cloning it would be impossible to wipe out an entire race since more genetic copies of the race could be reproduced countless times. Moreover, the stereotypical view of cloning is that everyone becomes the same, no one is unique or considered an individual, however in reality, with cloning it will only keep the diversity and individuality of everyone since natural breeding would eliminate recessive gene traits making everyone identical with the same dominant genes. As Canadians along with many other nations which encourage diversity, cloning should be acceptable to maintain these recessive traits.

Although cloning may not be an issue or affects everyone directly, every person most certainly would encounter it indirectly. In November of 1998, the discovery of stem cells was publicized. Although so far stem cells have only been found in stem cells are cells in the body that have not been assigned to transform into a certain type of tissue yet. ("Stem-Cell Research" Issues and Controversies, August 13, 1999. Using stem cell technology we could clone specific organs from the person’s own cells so their body will definitely accept the new organ. These organs would be very beneficial since there would be no need for donors to donate an organ for the transplant. This way, more lives can be saved and it will guarantee success as long as doctors perform the procedure correctly since the organ is made from the patient’s own stem cells and DNA. Stem cell technology is still in its early stages. However, if we allow the research of cloning to continue we would be able to produce a donor that is a perfect match for the patient or possibly be able to produce organs which will in turn eliminate the need for donors. For instance, if a child was ill and needed a kidney, they could clone the child and use the clone as a donor. This would result in two healthy and living children living with two very satisfied parents. (Genetic Encores: The Ethics of Human Cloning, Unknown. If we were to talk about the near future, the most likely medical advancement along the lines of cloning would be DNA research to create vaccines against viruses.

Vaccines could be created using DNA structures to counteract deadly diseases such as AIDS, cancer etc. (Lemonick, Michael D., 2001). With the usefulness of cloning and DNA research, we would greatly increase the life expectancy around the world and save many lives.
On the other hand, some people still think that cloning should not be permitted on humans and they argue that it is a sin to play God. In a telephone poll 69% of adult Americans felt that human cloning is playing the role of God and would mean that we are defying his will. (CNN Poll Report. Feb 2001). People will use cloning to breed elite armies for war and treat them as soldiers rather than humans, which is inhumane and letting them live without a purpose, literally living to die. (Bova, Ben. 1995). Some even argue that cloning a child will only make the parent want the child to follow in his footsteps and possibly give the child a chance to experience all the things that the parent didn’t have the chance to do. The parent may take the child’s success as his own achievements since through cloning the child would basically be a younger version of himself. (Genetic Encores: The Ethics of Human Cloning, Unknown.

These are all legitimate points; however, they have over looked the fact that sins are a natural part of life. Everyday we commit sins, so it does not differ from our regular routines. A sin of claiming to be God is no different from a sin like jealousy, what it all comes down to is that we have committed a sin. Humans have played God on countless occasions that this argument doesn’t carry much meaning anymore. “It’s in the Bible-be fruitful and multiply. People say ‘you’re playing God.’ But we’re not. We’re using the raw materials the good Lord gave us. What does the doctor do when the heart has stopped? They have to do a direct massage of the heart. You could say the doctor is playing God. But we save a life.” (Rebecca, 2001). Also if clones were bred the fight, and given no choices, then if they did not feel it was fair according to their rights then they could rebel. Only if they accepted the terms of their designated task would they attempt to cooperate with us. Otherwise they would rebel and make a bold statement since they are bred to fight. (Bova, Ben. 1995). The parent of a clone may push their child(ren) harder to strive for success and follow in their footsteps to possibly become the parent’s dream that never came true. This may sound unfair to the child(ren) and harsh since there is so much pressure of the child(ren) being like their parent. However if one were to examine at families right now, one would realize that many parents are doing the same to their child(ren) right now. They hope that their child(ren) will follow them into their field of profession. This is merely pride working on behalf of the parents and regardless of whether the child(ren) is a clone or not, certain parents will still pressure their child(ren) into becoming what they want their child(ren) to be. Moreover, even with the added emphasis from the parent on become what they want their child to be, the clone will most likely never live up to the expectations and dreams of the parent since they are brought up in a whole different manner and period of time. (Reed, Susan. 2001).

Cloning will prove to be a huge asset in the future because it will allow couples to have a biological baby when nature does not, it will keep the recessive genes alive and it will save many lives through organ transplants and DNA structures to create vaccines. Cloning must first be recognised as a great advancement for the scientific and medical fields rather than just another act that goes against the wills of God who shall punish us for our misdeeds. “We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes.” (Kennedy, John F.)

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