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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: February ::
Re: *Romeo and Juliet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0121. Monday, 20 February 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Nina Walker <
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        Date:   Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 12:11:21 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
(2)     From:   Elizabeth Nancy Olesh <
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        Date:   Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 13:41:20 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0120 Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
(3)     From:   Ron Moyer <
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        Date:   Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 12:49:10 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
(4)     From:   Gail  Lerner <
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        Date:   Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 15:45:48 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0120 Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
(5)     From:   Bradley S. Berens <
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        Date:   Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 14:49:00 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0120 Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
(6)     From:   David Collins <
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        Date:   Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 17:01:36 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
(7)     From:   Ronald Dwelle <
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        Date:   Sunday, 19 Feb 95 21:41:56 EST
        Subj:   R&J question
 
(8)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Sunday, 19 Feb 1995 22:11:55 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nina Walker <
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Date:           Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 12:11:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
To Frank Savukinas:
 
I'm delighted to see this question turn up on SHAKSPER. If it has been
discussed before, I've missed it. I only wish I had your students. Mine never
ask it, although I hint at it in the hopes that they will raise the issue
before I have to. Unfortunately, I have to ask and invariably the nature of the
discussion and views of the play change dramatically. Suddenly Romeo's ardor is
not confined to Juliet and we are reminded that they are teenagers (with,
perhaps, fairy dust sprinkled on their eyes.) As great as their love is for
each other, their love of LOVE may be even greater. Once the question has been
asked, students take over with little need of my prodding and they are very
likely to end up in a thoughtful discussion about teenage suicide-- of the kind
involving dying for love. While this may seem to detract from the more
traditionally romantic views, it often comes full circle to the idea that the
innocence inherent in young love combined with youth's propensity to give
themselves over completely to their senses, make this 'brand ' of love so
compelling as to be worth everything else that has been said about it. In
short, I consider Roseline a crucial key to opening up the play. My compliments
to your class.
 
Nina Walker

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elizabeth Nancy Olesh <
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Date:           Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 13:41:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0120 Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0120 Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
Yes, I definitely think Romeo would have fallen in love with Juliet regardless
of any involvement with Rosalinde.  As has been said countless times, Romeo and
Juliet fall in love NOT out of choice, but because they are "star-crossed
lovers" (gag me). They fall in love to satisfy the requiremnets of the play.
 
I think this question points to some larger issues in the way we read
Shakespeare today -- people tend to get caught in this Romantic "cult of
personality" that sets discussion of character above all else.  But we have to
ask ourselves how people in the Renaissance would have understood these plays.
What signs were they looking for?  My understanding is that "character" was
subsumed under other issues, such as form, rhetoric, and ritual.  Think of
Richard III comparing himself to "the formal vice, Iniquity." RIII is looking
back to the earlier dramatic tradition while looking forward to a new kind of
play.  Or, you can examine the difference between Romeo's language in the early
parts of R+J (up until the secret wedding) and the later acts -- I see this as
a comedy that turns into a tragedy, in part because the wedding was private and
thus not sanctioned by society according to the standard Renaissance wedding
script.
 
Okay, okay.  I know this post is too long, and I know that the people in this
group have many exciting ways of looking at Shakespeare. Just thought I'd offer
a view that I haven't seen around this group in a while!
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Moyer <
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Date:           Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 12:49:10 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
The speculation regarding Romeo and Rosiline can be, as could be the case with
other change-one-circumstance speculations, an enjoyable exercise, but it
avoids the notion that such speculation simply refers to the reader and has no
reference to the playscript.  The words and implied actions of the characters
are finite (well, kinda finite--considering the vagaries of textual
transmission), and the play doesn't deal with Ros and Romeo getting together
but does deal with Juliet and Romeo's passion.  Extra- textual speculation can
be fun--witness the long list of Shakespearean spinoffs--and can stimulate many
sociological/philosophical discussions, but, since it cannot be supported or
verified from the text, tends to be a reflection of the respondents'
personalities/philosophies/aspirations/ disappointments.
 
--Ron Moyer
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gail  Lerner <
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Date:           Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 15:45:48 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0120 Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0120 Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
In response to the question about whether Romeo would have fallen in love with
Juliet if Rosaline had returned his love and he had gone to to the feast
already in her thrall, I can think only of how my grandmother would  have
responded, "You know, sweetheart, if I had wheels, I would be a streetcar." I
can't say for sure if he would have noticed Juliet if his dance card had
already been filled, but I am pretty sure that  Rosaline wouldn't have been
able to co-improvise a love sonnet with Juliet's aplomb. She's beautiful,she's
funny,  she uses big words, and her name scans better. I don't think Rosaline
ever had a chance.
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bradley S. Berens <
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Date:           Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 14:49:00 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 6.0120 Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0120 Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
Greetings all,
 
Regarding Fred Savukinas question about Rosaline returning Romeo's love, my
first thought was that it was a question about as answerable as "how many
children does Lady Macbeth have?"
 
My second response, though, was that we already know the answer to the
question: of course he would have fallen in love with Juliet, and abandoned
Rosaline.  How do I know?  Because if you change the names a little, Romeo
becomes Demetrius, Rosaline becomes Helena, and Juliet becomes Hermia.
 
Whaddya think, Fred?
 
Brad Berens
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Collins <
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Date:           Saturday, 18 Feb 1995 17:01:36 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
Would Romeo have fallen in love with Juliet had Rosaline returned his love?
That depends.   Would the family feud still have provided an impediment?
Could he have loved Rosaline openly?  If so, I'd suspect he would have fallen
in love with Juliet whatever Rosaline's feelings.  Was it Denis de Rougemont
in _Love in the Western World_ who argued that "Happy love has no history?"
That's the real key to this question.  Romeo need an impediment to his love;
it thrives on opposition.  It's roots are in the love of suffering and death.
 
Romeo is after all the consumate Petrarchan lover.  Witness his "O brawling
love! O loving hate!" collection of Petrarchan contraries moments after his
first appearance in the play.  Like the literary master who has taught him all
he yet knows about "love," and who in fact doesn't really get going with his
sonnet sequence until Laura is safely dead and out of reach, Romeo needs
impossibility, some sort of impediment in order to fuel his love.
 
Were Rosaline to return his love Romeo would not have what he really needs as
an adolescent lover and would soon be looking for another object for his
affections.  Let me quickly add that I don't think Romeo stays an adolescent
lover all that long.  There's a change in him when he sees Juliet, a change
marked by his language.  All of a sudden he is a master of metaphor. Love for
Rosaline is "a smoke made with the fume of sighs," but Juliet "doth teach the
torches to burn bright" and "hangs upon the cheek of night/As a rich jewel in
an Ethiop's ear."  Nobody could love Rosaline long--if only because nobody
could sustain a literary pose that long.
 
(7)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ronald Dwelle <
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Date:           Sunday, 19 Feb 95 21:41:56 EST
Subject:        R&J question
 
When Capulet goes bananas over Juliet's refusal to go for the County Paris, he
makes the odd statement, "My fingers itch." What are we to make of that?
 
(8)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Sunday, 19 Feb 1995 22:11:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0120  Q: *Romeo and Juliet*
 
It's always fun speculating about what might have been. What if Rosaline had
slept with Romeo? Would he have dumped her for Juliet, revealing that he is
just one more unstable teenager? Or would Romeo have remained faithful to
Rosaline? I think he would have remained faithful to Rosaline -- at least for a
little while. But then I doubt if his marriage to Juliet would have lasted.
What keeps him everlastingly faithful is his death.
 
Yours, Cynical Bill
 

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