Q: Juliet and the "inconstant moon"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1245. Saturday, 20 December 1997.
From: Marilyn A. Bonomi <
Date: Thursday, 18 Dec 1997 22:13:29 -0500
Subject: Juliet and the "inconstant moon"
While discussing the first balcony scene with my high school sophomores,
we considered the question of why Juliet tells Romeo not to swear by the
moon. Although the obvious textual answer came up immediately, one
student asked the following:
Is Juliet telling Romeo not to swear to or by Diana, goddess of the moon
and of chastity? If so, why would she want him NOT to swear chastity-is
she already that interested in him?
My first reaction was, the text is clear: she says the moon is
But my second reaction was, Geez, a kid who's willing to think, to
connect to what we'd talked about in 1.1 with Rosaline having "Dian's
wit" and the consequent offer from Romeo of gold if she'd "ope her lap"
(which phrase, incidentally, becomes a most convenient euphemism
throughout our discussions of the play).
And my third thought is-she's certainly hot enough to suggest
instantaneous marriage... Maybe the kid's ON to something.
I promised to ask my Shakespeare professor at Southern CT. State U., but
we had no time in class, and the semester has ended. So I'm turning to
all of you on the list, to see what you think.
Thanks in advance!