Students will first read the plays
Romeo and Juliet
West Side Story
Myth vs. Reality—“Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?” (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
“When you see that special person, does your heart stop? Are your palms sweaty? Are you at a loss for words? If that boy or girl doesn’t know you’re alive, does that excite you even more? What makes you feel this way? Is it love or romantic love?”
Today love and romance are so closely linked that we use them as synonyms. Why cannot the famous couples we have seen on television, in the movies, and read about in books live happily ever after? Could they be in romantic love? In
Gone With the Wind
, “Camelot,” and “Casablanca” the theme of unrequited love is repeated. You can never have the person you are in love with. To be a true romantic is to be pure and pine away for someone. Students who have fallen in love with Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson, or Tina Turner know the feelings of unrequited love, that is unreturned. Romeo pined for Rosaline, Dante for Beatrice, Don Quixote for Dulcinea, Tony for Maria, Queen Guinevere for Sir Lancelot, Rick for Ilse, Heathcliff for Cathy, Rhett for Scarlett, and Oliver for Jenny.
Romantic love is incomplete and forever. At the beginning of
Romeo and Juliet
, for example, Romeo’s passion for Rosaline shows many qualities of romantic love. His love is unrequited; Rosaline will never marry him. He is wildly in love, and he is suffering because he cannot have her, yet he obviously enjoys his passion since he does nothing about it. This is not the end of Romeo’s romantic career. Romeo and Juliet fall madly in love knowing the family feuding which heightens their desire. Many things keep them apart, but they do manage to keep their passion alive forever by dying. Their passion is more important than life.
Today we are still attracted to romantic love and its emotional fireworks. We still want to believe that love is an emotional thing and that its emotions are eternal. The problem is that romance is based on tragic or incomplete love. Passion comes from danger and uncertainty. But peace, harmony, and trust come from having a long-term, healthy relationship. We all want both—romance with a happy ending. Hence the popularity of romance novels, and movies like “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
Students must pretend they are one of the famous couples in history and write a last letter to their lover describing their feelings of loss. Then they will pretend that they are teenage advice columnists like Dear Beth in the New Haven Register. They will practice letter-writing skills by stating a problem they would like resolved. They must follow these guidelines:
1. Do not make fun of the writer or the problem.
2. Remind the writer that he or she is not alone.
3. Give alternatives for consideration.
4. Reveal candidly how you would have survived the experience.
5. Have you learned anything from the situation to help yourself?
6. Address the letter “Dear concerned,” ”At a loss,” “Frantic,” ”Upset,” etc.
7. Exchange letters anonymously and read the replies out loud.