Junior Award Winner
Romeo and Juliet, like many of William Shakespeare’s works, is widely known in the Western literary and dramatic traditions. However, it is not a text that is firmly cemented in its textual veracity—even the earliest published editions of the play, and others in the Shakespeare canon, are dissimilar. Additionally, different versions of Romeo and Juliet have been interpreted, adapted, and performed in the 400 years since its entrance into popular culture. This reveals the uniquely fluid quality of dramatic works in literature. How, for a work as familiar as Romeo and Juliet, do different interpretations affect the enduring subjects of the play? This paper examines the theme of fate, the importance of the Prologue, and the character of Rosaline in this play, as magnified by a 1752 adaptation by J. and R. Tonson and S. Draper that changes the ways in which each of these preeminent motifs operates, as well as the action of the tragedy more generally. This 1752 version is a performance adaptation that does not include the Prologue, removes the character of Rosaline, and thereby affects the ways in which fate governs the actions, characters, and plotline of the play. Ultimately, this project explores how the nuanced construction of Romeo and Juliet’s fate plot weaves through the well-known drama’s storyline, and how different approaches to its delicate formulation by rhetorical alterations and drastic plot changes disrupt this destiny-driven narrative.
Steinbrecher, Stephanie A., "The Durability of Adaptation: Fate and Fortune in Romeo and Juliet" (2015). 2015 Claremont Colleges Library Undergraduate Research Award. Paper 2.