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The enduring cultural legacy of Shakespeare’s Juliet Capulet
Romeo and Juliet may be the greatest love story ever told, but who is Juliet? Demure ingénue? Or dangerous Mediterranean madwoman? From tearstained copies of the First Folio to Civil War–era fanfiction, Shakespeare’s star-crossed heroine has long captured our collective imagination.
Juliet is her story, traced across continents through centuries of history, theatre, and film. As scholar Sophie Duncan reveals, Juliet’s legacy stretches beyond her literary lifespan into a cultural afterlife ranging from enslaved African girls in the British Caribbean to the real-life Juliets of sectarian violence in Bosnia and Belfast. She argues that our dangerous aestheticization of the beautiful dead teenager and Juliet’s meteoric rise as a defiant sexual icon have come to define the Western ideal of romance.
Wry and inventive, Juliet is a tribute to fiction’s most famous teenage girl who died young, but who lives forever.