Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet largely pulls from a traditional tale, written and copied for decades before Shakespeare took his pen with an effort to adapt. Shakespeare's version, unquestionably the most famous, tells the story of love but, more, it tells of the tragedies to which that love leads. It is Bandello's version of this story that most closely resembles Shakespeare's eventual script. At its core, Bandello's story is one of heartbreaking love and the effect it has on the two principal characters, but also everyone who their lives touched. Weaved throughout his tale are repeated examples of this love as is characterized by the actions of all involved. Secondarily assessed is Salernitano's earlier version, wherein love is present throughout the actions of the characters but is stressed less significantly by the author.
As we learn through the publisher's introduction, Matteo Bandello was an Italian writer. Unlike the English Shakespeare, Bandello comes from the culture and people of whom the story of Romeo and Juliet must capture in order to successfully depict the social tragedies of these two characters. In the tradition of his family, Bandello became a friar, traveling through Italy as a diplomat. He is known for his prolific work of short stories.
[...] As she says to her priest, she would “rather slit [her] own throat open with a sharp knife,” than unfaithful to Romeo.” These dramatic descriptions of love are not limited merely to the love described by Romeo and Giulietta for one another. As is shown throughout the story, each character has a similar reaction to his or her feelings. Love appears to trump reason in each character. Upon the death of her cousin Giulietta claims that she wishes to be dead. [...]
[...] The story of this love and how the author characterizes it is more important here than how the plot concludes. In order for the story to be successful, and for it to seem tragic to the reader, the love that is the subject, must be accurately portrayed. The story of the two characters is told through a secondary source who places the setting in Verona. The speaker, “during a discussion concerning the havoc that love can cause” introduces this lore, passing it on to his conversation partners. [...]
[...] The author's language largely influences the readers' ability to understand love and romance in this version. The story follows a strict plot, wherein an explanation of the love felt between these two characters is less important than the overall lesson espoused by the story. Here the characters are Mariotto and Ganozza. Salernitano outlines that this story is a question of “which of the two loved more fervently.” With this question as the thesis, he uses the story format to tell the story with absoluteness. [...]
[...] While facts are provided about their individual and family histories, it is not until the reader learns of their love for one another that we are able to understand hot the characters think and live. Through their love of one another they gain meaning in their lives. Their lives prior to meeting were dominated by how others saw them with reference to their powerful families. Therefore, in this version of the story, Bandello is careful to emphasize the strong existence of love throughout the lives of these characters. [...]
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