From Romeo and Juliet to Rosaline & Benvolio: Refashioning Shakespearean Teenage Lovers


  • Laura Tosi Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia


Parole chiave:

Romeo and Juliet, Adaptation, YA literature


In this essay I analyse a number of narrative retellings of Romeo and Juliet for a Young Adult audience. I focus on three novels which, interestingly, replace the star-crossed lovers, with a couple of minor characters, Benvolio and Rosaline: Lisa Fiedler’s Romeo’s Ex. Rosaline’s Story (2006), Melinda Traub’s Still Star Crossed (2013) and Rachel Caine’s Prince of Shadows (2014). In thse versions Rosaline and Benvolio are given centre stage and narrative voices which open up new narrative possibilities; they end up playing a different and a bigger part than in the original play, but firmly refuse that of the victim to the old generation’s decisions and actions.

By exploring motivation, establishing new links between the characters, and having narrators pass authoritative moral judgements, all these texts negotiate with well-established critical interpretations of the central characters, often challenging and channeling them into unexpected critical directions. In a way, these retellings “fix” the original “dangerous” characters Romeo and Juliet, by bringing in new characters as mediators, or expand existing secondary characters in order to make them fit into contemporary notions of teenage role models. 


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Biografia autore

Laura Tosi, Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia

Laura Tosi is Associate professor of English Literature at the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice. Her research spans the areas of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and children’s literature. She has written monographs on Ben Jonson and John Webster and edited (with S. Bassi) the collection Visions of Venice in Shakespeare (Ashgate 2011), and with A. Petrina, the collection Representations of Elizabeth I (Palgrave 2011). She has edited and translated a collection of Victorian fairy tales (Draghi e Principesse, Venice, Marsilio, 2003) and written a volume on the literary fairy tale in England (La
fiaba letteraria inglese, Venice, Marsiglio, 2007). Her latest monograph is on narrative adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays for children (Raccontare Shakespeare ai bambini, Francoangeli, 2014). Her own adaptation of The Merchant of Venice for Italian young readers was published in 2015 (Lapis, Rome). She is currently working on a comparative analysis of nineteenth-century children's fantasy traditions in Italy and England. Her forthcoming monograph study (MacFarland, 2017) is entitled The Fabulous Journeys of Alice and Pinocchio. Exploring Their Parallel Worlds.




Come citare

Tosi, Laura. 2017. «From Romeo and Juliet to Rosaline & Benvolio: Refashioning Shakespearean Teenage Lovers». Altre Modernità, n. 18 (novembre):17-30.



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