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Romeo and Juliet

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Alexandre Dumas practically rewrites Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet over the course of this novel. Put your hands together for the stars of Dumas's version of Romeo and Juliet, Max Morrel and Valentine de Villefort (and the crowd goes wild).

According to Valentine's dad, Max is not rich enough to be considered a worthy suitor for her. The two must meet secretly in the garden (OK, no balcony scene, but still – a secret garden!), for Valentine has been promised to another, more eligible bachelor. The two promise to marry anyway, and with Valentine's grandfather's help and the Count's help, they do. The Count's plan involves secret and super hardcore sleeping pills that Valentine takes. Max and the rest of the world thinks that Valentine has died as a result of being poisoned, but really, she's just asleep. The Count convinces Max to wait for one month before committing suicide (which Max really wants to do, because life isn't worth living without his Valentine). When that month is over, the Count gives Max a pill he promises will kill him. But the pill merely puts Max to sleep, and when he wakes up, Valentine is there to kiss him on the kisser.

This is the happy version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, where the lovers actually live happily ever after in each other's arms – the ending we always want when we see Shakespeare's play acted out but that never happens. Why do you think Dumas borrowed this plot from Shakespeare? And what is significant about the fact that Dumas changes Shakespeare's ending? What story might Dumas be trying to tell here?

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