The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0296 Saturday, 12 February 2000.
Date: Thursday, 10 Feb 2000 08:57:41 -0500
Subject: Query on R&J Prologue
My Honors students have raised a question for which I have no clear
answer and so am turning to my brilliant and articulate listmates for
I remember my college professor telling us that Shakespeare almost
definitely did not write the Prologue to Act II and probably not the
Prologue to Act I.
>From what source might he have obtained such an opinion?
Further, it makes sense to me on a number of levels. The second
prologue is intrusive; there is NO prologue for Acts 3-5; act and scene
divisions are editorial and arbitrary at any rate.
On a more thematic level, within the play ONLY Romeo professes a belief
in stars, fate, Fortune. Every other character recognizes the primacy
of human action. And yet the Prologue asserts that the pair are
"star-crossed lovers" "whose misadventured, piteous overthrows" lead to
the end of the feud with their own lives. The play does NOT to me seem
to support Fortune as the culprit; it seems much more to me a tragedy of
character, albeit not a very profound one in comparison to the later
Hence the question: if Shakespeare DID write the Prologue, is he
asserting that Fate is indeed the Prime Mover of this tragedy?
I welcome a thorough discussion; I have thoughts on the 1.4 line about
"he that hath the steerage of my course" for example. But I look
forward to others' thoughts.
Marilyn A. Bonomi