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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: "not well married"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1626  Wednesday, 27 June 2001

[1]     From:   Louis Swilley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 07:57:07 -0500
        Subj:   The change in Capulet

[2]     From:   Markus Marti <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 16:32:25 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1618 "not well married"??

[3]     From:   Alexander Houck <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 10:02:22 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1618 "not well married"??

[4]     From:   Rita Lamb <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 21:46:48 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1618 "not well married"??

[5]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 27 Jun 2001 10:07:36 -0000
        Subj:   Dying for it


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Swilley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 07:57:07 -0500
Subject:        The change in Capulet

Janet Costa wrote,

 "If Capulet cares so much about his daughter's physical happiness in
marriage... why does he threaten her with street life if she doesn't get
to the church on  time???"

[In an earlier conversation with Paris, Capulet has said that Juliet is
very young and that he, Capulet, will not force her into marriage
against her will. Later, he demands that she marry.  What's happened?
The death of kinsman Tybalt has happened; and Capulet, whose only child
is Juliet, has had, in that death, brought home to him the urgency of
Juliet's marriage to assure that his blood will be continued. ]

[L. Swilley]

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 16:32:25 +0100
Subject: 12.1618 "not well married"??
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1618 "not well married"??

>Friar Lawrence, lecturing Capulet and Lady Capulet on the proper
>attitude towards the death of Juliet, says, "She's not well married that
>lives married long, / But she's best married that dies married young"
>(4.5.77-78).
>
>1) Is there another way to interpret these lines?
>
>2) Could the statement be a "sentence," a truism which the Friar could
>think would be helpful to the grieving parents?

There seems to be some kind of sentential truism, known as "Solon's
happiness" (cf. Titus Andronicus, 1.1.180). According to Plutarch
(North, p.103) Solon said that nobody could be counted securely happy
until he was dead. (cf. J. Bate, ed. Titus Andronicus, Arden, p.139).
Whether married or not, is of no importance. The more general version
would be: "She's not HAPPY that lives long, But she's HAPPIEST that dies
young."

Markus Marti

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alexander Houck <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 10:02:22 -0700
Subject: 12.1618 "not well married"??
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1618 "not well married"??

Weller cited this text: "She's not well married that lives married long,
/ But she's best married that dies married young" (4.5.77-78).

I had a problem finding the lines in my Norton/Oxford Anthology since a
act four is only broken up into four scenes.  However, a little extra
snooping allowed me to find the citation.  Weller and I must be using
different editions.

Weller's question was:

To me it looks like this implies that the longer a woman is married, the
more likely she is to sin, which seems excessively cynical for the
context.

In reading the lines in the context of Friar's speech the question he
poses before this sentence gave me clarification: "The most you sought
was her promotion,/For 'twas your heaven she should be advanced,/ And
weep ye now, seeing she is advanced/Above the clouds as high as heaven
itself?" (4.4:98-101)  Friar appears to be telling the Capulets that
they should no longer weep for their young child who has moved on to a
better place: heaven.  This reinforces the second line of the citation
where the benefit of her young death is that she has enjoyed young love
and has gone to heaven (since it is not a suicide).

Also, the two lines preceding the citation note that parents grow crazy
as they continue to worry about their children: "O, in this love you
love your child so ill/That you run mad, seeing that she is well."
(4.4:104-105)  If Juliet had lived a longer life she would have gone
"crazy" in the same way that the Capulets are crazy and upset with
having to raise a teenage daughter--and now she's dead.  Juliet's short
life prevents her from going crazy the way parents do when raising
teenagers.
Friar also seems to be attempting to calm the parents down since he
knows that Juliet will wake up soon.  He wants them to leav quickly or
else they might accidently wake her up.  Though, this last
interpretation is less textual and more based on dramatic irony.

Alex Houck
Santa Clara University

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rita Lamb <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 21:46:48 +0100
Subject: 12.1618 "not well married"??
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1618 "not well married"??

>Friar Lawrence, lecturing Capulet and Lady Capulet on the proper
>attitude towards the death of Juliet, says, "She's not well married that
>lives married long, / But she's best married that dies married young"
>(4.5.77-78).

I don't think Friar Lawrence is making a special point that it's
particularly good for married women to die young: just that it's best to
die young anyway.  I take these lines simply to mean that life on earth
is a vale of tears and the sooner it's over, the better.  As the parents
are naturally feeling extreme grief at the death of their daughter on
what should have been her bridal day,  Friar Lawrence is swift to point
out that married life - like all earthly life - is happiest when it's
cut short.  It's like those inscriptions you read on children's graves
in old churches, about how the parents wouldn't wish them back, the
world being such a bad place.

So yes, I understand the lines in the light of your second suggestion,
that this is simply a conventional attitude to death which the Friar is
restating for the parents' consolation.  He's encouraging them to take
the same attitude to the loss of Juliet as the Nurse already has to her
lost daughter: she's better where she is, in heaven.

Rita

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Wednesday, 27 Jun 2001 10:07:36 -0000
Subject:        Dying for it

Philip Weller (12.1638) seeks further interpretation of R&J 4.5.77-78.

Dealing with his second first: Eleven modern (post circa 1900)
editors/editions gloss along the lines of the Friar's attempts to find
the right thing to say given his probable anxieties. Most leaven this
with taking refuge in the proverbial usage.

Dealing with his first second: No edition I've read - although there may
be one - gives a gloss that incorporates the obvious bawdy pun on dying.
I do not suggest that Shakespeare put such thoughts in the sanctified
mind of a holy man but my groundling mind cannot resist the suspicion
that he constructed it for those of us accustomed to the sulphureous
odours of the pit.

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