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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: "not well married"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1656  Friday, 29 June 2001

[1]     From:   Brian Haylett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Jun 2001 16:21:37 +0100
        Subj:   Re: "not well married"

[2]     From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Jun 2001 11:21:31 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1640 Re: "not well married"

[3]     From:   Alexander Houck <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Jun 2001 12:13:52 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1640 Re: "not well married"

[4]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Jun 2001 18:55:54 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1640 Re: "not well married"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Haylett <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Jun 2001 16:21:37 +0100
Subject:        Re: "not well married"

>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."

It is possible that the Friar is ringing the changes on some popular
saying, whether derived from Solon or not: = They say that a long
marriage is an unhappy marriage, so let's console ourselves with the
thought that she saw only the best of it.

I've no evidence, but it's the kind of thing that happens elsewhere in
Shakespeare.

Brian Haylett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Jun 2001 11:21:31 -0400
Subject: 12.1640 Re: "not well married"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1640 Re: "not well married"

(I think Alexander Houck asked the original question):

> >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.
> >So, I have two questions:
> >
> >1) Is there another way to interpret these lines?

Of course...there's ALWAYS more than one interpretation...  however, in
this case my first thought was that, given the anti-marriage opinions
expressed by some Church fathers, e.g., that marriage is acceptable only
because it creates more virgins, it could mean that a marriage that
continues after menopause might also include non-procreative sexual
relations.

Dana Shilling

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alexander Houck <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Jun 2001 12:13:52 -0700
Subject: 12.1640 Re: "not well married"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1640 Re: "not well married"

Weller asks:

If that's the case, has the Friar made a slip?  He's the only one
present who knows that Juliet is married and "has enjoyed young love."

The slip is so subtle that it is not meant to inform the Capulets but
more for God.  He never says that she is dead, therefore Friar is
perhaps bending the truth.  He enters the scene with: "Come, is the
bride ready to go to church?" (4.4:60) which reflects his ironic nature
of the scene.  Friar knows that Juliet will have the appearance of
death, but even if the potion did not work she is ready for the church
either way (wedding or funeral).  Another example of his contradictions
comes in his reference to Juliet: "the fair corpse" (4.4:107 & 120).

So, my read is that the slip is somewhat intentional: to be truthful to
God, and to confuse the parents enough that they'll do what he asks of
them. Now I am wondering whether or not the marriage question is not a
reference to her marriage with God now that she is dead and gone to
heaven.  My theology is not that strong, but is she in anyway married to
God now that she's dead?

Alex Houck
Santa Clara University

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Jun 2001 18:55:54 -0400
Subject: 12.1640 Re: "not well married"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1640 Re: "not well married"

Phillip Weller asks,

>If that's the case, has the Friar made a slip?  He's the only one present
>who knows that Juliet is married and "has enjoyed young love."

I'm sure I will be corrected if I misspeak here, but my understanding is
that once the banns were announced the couple was considered "husband
and wife."

Before Friar Lawrence says anything other than "is the bride ready to go
to church?", Capulet addresses Paris (using some of the most powerful
imagery in the play in terms of Death as paramour) and says,

O son, the night before thy wedding day
Hath death lain with thy wife. There she lies,
Flower as she was, deflowered by him.(4.5.41-43; New Folger Library
edition)

He refers to Juliet as Paris' wife, which to my mind negates an
accusation against the Friar in this particular case.

A number of other SHAKSPER threads are relevant to this particular
citation, actually: "Son" does not imply that Lord Capulet had dallied
with the County's mother.

Juliet is a bud in 1.2 but a flower in 4.5; somehow her father has
recognized she has ripened.  He also earlier had said "Death lies on her
like an untimely frost / Upon the sweetest flower of all the field"
(4.5.33-34).

He also says death is his "son-in-law" and "heir" and that he will "die
and leave him [death] all"-- indicating he did have some concern over
succession.

So ripeness in this case isn't all, perhaps?

Mari Bonomi

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