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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: August ::
Re: *Romeo and Juliet*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0774  Friday, 21 August 1998.

[1]     From:   Richard A. Burt <
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        Date:   Sunday, 16 Aug 1998 13:07:01 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Pop Music R and J

[2]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Sunday, 16 Aug 1998 14:37:06 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   *Romeo and Juliet*

[3]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Aug 1998 11:00:27 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0770  Re: *Romeo and Juliet*


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A. Burt <
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Date:           Sunday, 16 Aug 1998 13:07:01 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Pop Music R and J

I don't remember if anyone mentioned Madonna's "Fever" (on the CD
Erotica).  She refers to Romeo and Juliet.  The scarecrow also refers to
Romeo in his "If I only had a brain" song in The Wizard of Oz.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Sunday, 16 Aug 1998 14:37:06 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        *Romeo and Juliet*

Gee, I wish that Mr. Pierpoint had taught me *Romeo and Juliet* when I
was in 9th grade. "We might as well talk about these issues," Alan
Pierpoint writes, "since failure to do so will leave our young people as
isolated as R&J were." Yes, indeed, and I agree with Alan that having
students write about ways in which R&J might have avoided suicide is an
excellent idea. I do the same thing in my "Teaching Shakespeare in High
School" class, offered to prospective secondary school teachers, and
this exercise meets with universal approval from soon-to-be teachers,
who, by the way, uneasily admit to the same feelings of squeamishness
that Alan writes of. Students often write that Romeo should have checked
with Friar Laurence before rushing off to the tomb, that Juliet should
have told her parents the truth, etc.  In effect, this exercise tries to
tell young adults that in moments of great stress, it is usually a
mistake to give in to impulsiveness.

I'd add that discussions of the failures of adults in *R&J* is also
worth having. Consider, for example, 3.5, during which Juliet's mother
fails to come to her defense in the face of Old Capulet's wrath. As Dave
Evett points out, patriarchy has run amuck here. In the same scene, the
Nurse abandons Juliet and leaves all alone, completely isolated at the
worst possible time. Our feelings are complex at this point because we
admire Juliet for the way she faces adversity, but we cannot bring
ourselves to accept the already impending catastrophe.

In general, the adults give bad example in R&J, and even the Friar has a
failure of nerve at a crucial moment.  Young adults often compain that
adults do give bad example nowadays, and that's another reason why this
early (but wonderful) play continues to be so powerful. Kids see that it
is relevant to their lives, and even the complaints of parents testify
to the same thing.

One young woman recently commented to me, "Boy, Shakespeare really takes
seriously the problems of adolescents!" Yes, he does, even if, as Alan
Pierpoint points out, society today does not.  So maybe the late
16th-century has something to teach us, and maybe we don't really have
all the answers after all!

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Aug 1998 11:00:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0770  Re: *Romeo and Juliet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0770  Re: *Romeo and Juliet*

Dear Ed Taft,

I think what would be much more startling would be any evidence that
Shakespeare HAD read Aristotle, at any point!

Best,
Hugh Grady
 

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