Romeo and Juliet (R&J) is very characteristic of a Shakespearean play because of its recurring themes, language and diction, and story of a tragedy. Much like Hamlet and The Tempest, Shakespeare incorporates themes such as family rivalries, father and daughter relationships, revenge, and obedience vs. disobedience.
One theme that tips R&J off to be a Shakespearean play is the rivalry between and inside families. In R&J, a rivalry exists between the two major families of Capulet and Montague. In addition, there is a hatred children have toward parents. Juliet rebelling against her father can be compared to Hermia rebelling against Egeus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In this example, Romeo is Lysander, the one whom the girl truly loves, while Paris is Demetrius, the one whom the parents want her to marry. Much like Hermia and Lysander, Romeo and Juliet try to run away and elope without their parents knowing. Another obvious theme, which is tied into the previous example, is love. Just as Juliet loves Romeo, other relationships include Hermia and Lysander, Miranda and Ferdinand (The Tempest), and Ophelia and Hamlet (Hamlet).
Another recurrent theme is the creation of a fantasy world. In R;J, the costume party is much like a fantasy world with the decorative house, fireworks in the sky, and uncontrollable partying of the colorful guests. Another Shakespearean imaginary world is in A Midsummer Night’s Dream where the forest is a place in which the fairies roam and rule. One more theme apparent in Shakespearean plays including R&J is that of revenge. In a mad rage, Romeo kills Tybalt because he kills his best friend, Mercutio.The whole plot of The Tempest deals with Prospero devising a complicated plan just to gain revenge
on his brother, Alonso, and his party. In Hamlet, Hamlet’s whole purpose in the play is avenging his father’s murder, and the story centers on the way he goes about it.
The very language and diction of R&J easily shows how the play is Shakespeare’s. The usage of metaphors, similes, and archaic language are marks of a Shakespearean play. Another factor is how the characters are one-sided at times. Romeo is mainly an emotional person drawing a parallel to Miranda also being only emotional. The fact that R;J is a tragedy is characteristic of Shakespeare. Other tragedies that Shakespeare wrote toward the end of his career include Hamlet and The Tempest.
R;J can easily be spotted as a play by William Shakespeare by anyone who has a basic knowledge of his plays. The primary reason is because Shakespeare tends to recycle his themes in each play he makes. Another reason is the poetic yet archaic language he uses in all his works. Despite the more up-dated movie version of R;J, it still can be seen as Shakespeare’s just on the basis of themes alone.