Author Note: This article is part of a collection from the previously lost Bordering Bears website, and has thus been re-uploaded and archived.
As part of our content exploring Feena’s experiences and opinions of the world seen through a child’s eyes, today she has been asked to give her opinion on Shakespeare.
Feena has enjoyed the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo + Juliet for several years now. She has also begun reading the play. We take it in turns to read for characters, completing one or two scenes per day.
Wednesday 6th May 2020
We read Act 1, Scene 1. Feena read the parts of Gregory, Abraham, Benvolio, Lady Capulet and Lady Montague. I read the Chorus, Sampson, Tybalt, 1st Citizen, Capulet, Montague, Prince and Romeo.
Thursday 7th May 2020
We read Act 1, Scene 2, where Feena read the parts of Paris, Servant and Benvolio. I read as Capulet and Romeo. She was very motivated and continued on to read Act 1, Scene 3 as Nurse and Juliet, while I read as Lady Capulet and Servant.
It is important to note that, for the most part, Feena does not understand what is being said. However, there are some parts where she is successfully picking out key words to try and make sense. We figure that if she can read Shakespeare fluently, most other works won’t pose a challenge.
So, here is Feena’s opinion on some questions regarding Shakespeare.
Why do you like the movie version of Romeo & Juliet?
Because at the same time you cry but… it’s a happy story too. That’s why I love it so much. I hope whoever else sees it loves it too. That’s what I think.
Who is your favourite character?
All of them are my favourite! But the most romantic character has to be Romeo. Oh! He’s nice. I feel like I want it to be real but… I don’t want it to be real cos there’s killing and blood and… you know what I mean.
(Feena quite likes Leonardo DiCaprio. Can you tell?)
Which character death did you find most sad?
(Given a list of Tybalt, Mercutio, Romeo, Juliet)
Mercutio! Basically he got stabbed and it moved as he was pushing someone. It’s just… what he said was just so sad and…. oh it’ll make me cry, that’s the problem. At least it’s not in real life!
How are you finding reading the text?
Quite difficult. Cos there’s lots of big words and difficult words, that’s how I’d describe it but... a lot of them are new words to me. I’m trying my hardest though! I wish I could try even harder.
Do you understand what you’re reading?
Not really. Because I don’t really know what most of these words mean so I don’t know what it means. Some bits I can work out what I think it means.
What are you enjoying about reading the text?
I like the way it’s spoken! Because… if you see… “Two households, both alike in dignity”… it’s kind of rhyme-y. It’s interesting. I want to know what it means. It gives you a really strong feeling that you want to read that book and watch that movie. It’s amazing.
What are you not enjoying about reading the text?
The thing that I’m not enjoying so far is that I don’t understand it. But at the same I do, because it’s about love.
Are you enjoying reading it as a play with roles?
Yes and no. There’s big bits but at least it gets my mind reading. When I’m older I’ll know what every word means but some of it doesn’t make sense. I am enjoying reading it as a play. We are spending time together but at the same time reading. It’s kind of fun. Anyway, reading together is really really exciting to be honest. I mean like, normally if you’re just reading on your own then it‘s not exciting.
Do you think this will help you with your own reading?
Yes. Because… there’s tricky words in it… and my Mummy helps me with them and tells me what they mean so when I’m older and I read the book again I can say the word and understand the meaning of the word.
My reading is improving. My other books are easy. At home Mama gives me challenging books. I don’t want to at the beginning but when I read them I always want to know what is happening. It makes it easier because I learn words so it makes school books easier. I can go back to school, more hard words, knowing what they mean if I just keep reading these, well, hard books. Hard books, big sections, yeah.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to read Romeo and Juliet but was worried they won’t understand it?
Never say never. Because if you go into the book you don’t know if there’s some easy words you already know or more tricky words. Get someone else to help you like your mother or brother or sister. Don’t say you’ll never try this book cos you’re reading it on your own. Why don’t you just give the books a go? Read it together, it might be more interesting than you think. Reading it on your own, like I said before, could be boring. You can do voices and spend time together.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. We have an 8-year-old Shakespeare fan.
I agree with her, give it a shot. You may not understand it, but at least you can say you’ve tried.