As well as being one of my all-around favorite beginnings, the opening of Romeo and Juliet is my favorite example of why there’s nothing inherently wrong with prequels. No, obviously, Romeo and Juliet isn’t a prequel itself, but check out the prologue again (since you’ve all read it already, right?), and you’ll see what I mean.
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
Got it? Blood feud ends only when the children of the two sides fall in love and kill themselves. That’s the entire story in a nutshell, and now we’re going to spend the next two hours telling it again, because there’s more to a good story than making you wonder how it ends!
Then, right after warning us that this is going to be a tragedy, Romeo and Juliet launches right into making us forget. There are no witches, no obviously sleazy Iago on the stage, no weighty monologues about the winter of our discontent. Instead you’ve got a hero who thinks he’s in love with the wrong woman, a wacky sidekick,
When pulled off right, this is one of my favorite story styles, and the setup of Romeo and Juliet makes the best example I know.
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