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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Paris' poor physics in "Romeo & Juliet" V, iii ?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1795  Friday, 22 September 2000.

From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 13:30:46 -0500
Subject:        Paris' poor physics in "Romeo & Juliet" V, iii ?

In R&J, V, iii, instructs his page:

Hence and stand aloof....
Under yond yew trees lay thee all along,
Holding thine ear close to the hollow ground,
So shall no foot upon the churchyard tread,
Being loose, unfirm, with digging up of graves,
But thou shalt hear it. (ll. 1-7)

As one who, as a child (and before my investigations into Physics),
often laid my ear to a railroad track to listen for an approaching
train, I was immediately struck by the error in Paris' instruction here
to his page.  Wouldn't the merest Elizabethan child know that the more
solid the substance, the more readily the sound through it is
transferred? Or are there interconnected caves below which might give
some warrant for the detection method prescribed?  (But the description
of the digging up of graves does not suggest *that*. The ground is
"loose and unfirm").  Or, alternatively, would Paris know better in a
less distracted moment - after all,  he's abruptly changed his mind
about the torch ("Give me thy torch...yet put it out.").

I should hate to be the director charged with conveying the page's
awareness that Paris' physics is erroneous.

L. Swilley

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