Friday Freewrite: Point of View

Friday Freewrite Point of View

Think of something you feel strongly about (a video game or a book etc.). Now write from the perspective of someone who holds the opposite opinion.

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Movie Wednesday: Romeo and Juliet

Movie Wednesday Romeo and Juliet

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

Long ago in the city of Verona, two feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets, find it impossible to reconcile their differences causing one too many brawls to break out in the streets. But one night, Romeo Montague and his friends sneak into a masked ball held by the Capulets. There Romeo meets Juliet Capulet and without knowing each other’s true identities the two find themselves pulled to one another, only to learn too late that they are from rival families. The star-crossed lovers resolve to marry in secret, but when Romeo is confronted by Juliet’s cousin in the streets of Verona, blades are drawn and the lovers’ fates are set on a cruel course.

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“Two households, both alike in dignity,” is one of the most famous opening lines of a play. Most likely written sometime in the early 1590s, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet spins a tragic tale of love and hate, and deals with themes still desperately relevant to this day such as the nature of inherited prejudice, absentee parenting, and teen suicide. Perhaps that is why it is one of Shakespeare’s most frequently performed and adapted plays.

Romeo and Juliet is credited with coining the phrase “star-crossed lovers.” The expression has become the name of a recognized trope in storytelling and remains popular. It’s a common misconception that the phrase means “two lovers fated to be together.” The actual meaning of the phrase is a pair of lovers “thwarted by the stars.” In other words, the lovers are destined to meet but fate conspires to keep the lovers from remaining together. This trope often ends tragically, as it does in Romeo and Juliet.

In 2013, Romeo and Juliet was adapted to screen (yet again). Starring Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld as the titular lovers, the film features Renaissance inspired wardrobe, a breathtaking score, and was filmed in Italy (locations included Verona, Mantua, and Rome).

The film has drawn criticism for “altering Shakespeare’s text” to be more accessible to a modern audience. However, this critique may be based in a misunderstanding of the texts of Shakespeare.

The versions of Shakespeare’s plays that are nowadays agreed upon and performed were created by editing together from “source texts” which do not always agree with one another. The various Folios and Quartos used to compile the modern versions of the plays often don’t quite line up with each other; there are noticeable variations within them. The plays we know today were created by editors “averaging out” these differences. What we recognize as “what Shakespeare wrote” is actually the result of editing choices made long after his passing, so altering that text isn’t necessarily “changing the words of Shakespeare” so much as editing his editors.

With that in mind, the 2013 film gives the viewer a unique opportunity to experience Romeo and Juliet through real locations and pseudo-period aesthetics but with text somewhat re-imagined for a modern teen audience. So, get ready to be swept up in this classic tale of love and hate, vengeance and redemption, and maybe grab a box of tissues, too.

A note to parents: Romeo and Juliet (2013) is rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements. We recommend looking up the film on sites like Common Sense Media before deciding if it is right for your family

Discussion Questions

  • A famous example of the star-crossed lovers trope, which pulls heavily from Romeo and Juliet, is the relationship between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala from the Star Wars Saga. Can you think of any other examples in books, film, or television? Which ones and how do you feel about them?
  • In the 2013 version of Romeo and Juliet, a scene between Juliet and her cousin Tybalt was added. This scene does not feature in the original play; Juliet and Tybalt never interact in the play. How do you think adding a scene between them changes things?
  • Juliet’s parents, although they initially seem kind to her, turn viciously against her the moment she asserts her own will causing her to become desperate and ultimately leading to her death. Romeo’s parents are never seen really interacting with him or, indeed, parenting him at all; he is left without mature parental support. How do you think these negative examples of parenting impact each of the title characters and their choices?
  • A crucial plot point in the latter half of the story is a letter to Romeo going astray. How might the story have changed if Juliet and Romeo had had access to better means of communication, such as our modern cell phones?
  • Although Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy and our young lovers take their own lives during its climactic scenes, the two rival families are reconciled by these very events and the feud between them is laid to rest along with their children. The parents, who started all this hatred, live but their children, who are victims of that hatred, die in order to end it. What do you think Shakespeare may have been trying to say with this outcome?

Additional Resources

Star-Crossed Lovers – TV Tropes

William Shakespeare – Encyclopedia Britannica

Shakespeare’s Accent – What Shakespeare’s language originally sounded like

Shakespeare Family Workshop – Brave Writer class

Movie Discussion Club

Happy Birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder!

Happy Birthday Laura Ingalls Wilder The Long Winter Sale

Beloved author Laura Ingalls Wilder was born February 7, 1867, and to celebrate we’re offering the Arrow based on her book, The Long Winter:

HALF PRICE through Friday at midnight ET!

Just $4.95

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

“Then the sun peeped over the edge of the prairie and the whole world glittered. Every tiniest thing glittered rosy toward the sun and pale blue toward the sky, and all along every blade of grass ran rainbow sparkles.” ―from The Long Winter

Encouraged by her daughter, Rose (an author in her own right), Laura Ingalls Wilder chronicled the pioneer stories of her childhood which were filled with both hardship and love. The Long Winter is the sixth book in her Little House series. She would publish eight Little House books and a ninth was published posthumously.

Take advantage of this special Arrow offer! Ends February 9, 2018 at midnight ET.

Also, if you’d like to buy a copy of the novel, it’s available through Amazon: The Long Winter

The ArrowLearn language arts with the Long Winter Arrow!

The Arrow is the monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel (you purchase or obtain the novels yourself). It’s geared toward children ages 8-11 and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.


Podcast BONUS EPISODE: Brain Breaks with Joshua MacNeill

Bonus Podcast with Joshua MacNeill

Today on the podcast we learn more about the developing brain so that we, as parents and home educators, can incorporate brain-based practices into our family’s lives. Our guest for this episode is Joshua MacNeill, Director of Lakeside’s NeuroLogic Initiative and an expert in trauma-informed education.

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Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

We know the early years are crucial when it comes to a child’s development – but do you know, specifically, how it affects the brain?

For example, in the first year of life, more than one million new neural connections are formed every second. Adversity impairs these new connections, and the greater the adversity a child faces, the greater the odds of a delay in their cognitive, language, or emotional development.

Joshua MacNeill podcast


You can find more of Joshua’s fun and practical brain break ideas in his book, 101 Brain Breaks & Educational Activities. Joshua has a pro tip for using the book: don’t get hung up on the details. Even if it doesn’t seem to go exactly how you plan or expect, it’s likely still going to be beneficial for your children.

Also join Josh in the Homeschool Alliance in March for a wonderful webinar featuring his ground-breaking ideas. He’ll take your questions and teach you how to use these brain breaks. Sign up for our 7-Day Free Trial and be ready to go in March when we hold the webinar. Can’t wait for you to see all the research and resources he has to offer us.

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Tune in to the Brave Writer podcast on iTunesStitcher (or your app of choice), and here on the Brave Writer blog. And would you please post a review on iTunes for us? You’ll help a homeschooler like you find more joy in the journey when you do. Thanks in advance!

Friday Freewrite: Favorite Toy

Friday Freewrite Favorite Toy

You wake up one morning to discover that you have somehow been transformed into your favorite toy. How do you react? What happens next?

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.