Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: Romeo and Juliet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1149  Friday, 26 April 2002

[1]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 25 Apr 2002 13:48:40 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1130 Re: Romeo and Juliet

[2]     From:   L. Swilley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Apr 2001 15:11:14 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1130 Re: Romeo and Juliet

[3]     From:   Al Magary <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 25 Apr 2002 23:56:32 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1130 Re: Romeo and Juliet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 25 Apr 2002 13:48:40 -0400
Subject: 13.1130 Re: Romeo and Juliet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1130 Re: Romeo and Juliet

Regarding fate versus character flaw as the source of the tragedy in
R&J, I lean strongly toward the latter.

Yes, the Chorus calls them star-crossed lovers who can only "bury their
parents' strife" with their deaths.  HOWEVER...

Within the play itself, only Romeo assigns his fate to fortune, the
stars, fate.  In fact, Mercutio warns him against such nonsense: "...
dreams, the children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain
fantasy...."

Nonetheless, Romeo in the same scene (1.4) persists in relinquishing
control of his destiny: "My mind misgives some consequence yet hanging
in the stars.  . . . But he that hath the steerage of my course direct
my sail."

Leaving aside the fascinating question of to whom "he" in that last
citation refers (since different editions punctuate and capitalize that
line differently editors clearly do not agree on that one), we are left
with someone who chooses to ignore the advice of his more pragmatic
friends (and cousin.. "examine other beauties" counsels Benvolio but
Romeo goes to the party only to feast his eyes on Rosaline).  That's not
"fate," that's character.

And he also chooses to ignore, more than once, the counsel of his
ghostly confessor, who urges "wisely, and slow. They stumble that run
fast." and again "too swift arrives as tardy as too slow" and offers the
"milk" of "philosophy" as armor against affliction.  That Friar Lawrence
ignores his own counsel is another example of character flaw, not of
"fate" operating in some way.

Is there coincidence in R&J? Almost too much of it... some sections feel
almost more contrived than suspension of disbelief can handle.

But what there is, mostly, is a whole passel of folks, young and old,
alike in dignity or in humbler roles, *all* of whom ignore good sense
and good counsel to act precipitously out of some emotional thrust of
the moment.  Had, for example, the Prince carried out his announced
sentence ("if ever you disturb our streets again, your lives will pay
the forfeit of the peace!") we'd not have had any play after 3.1 after
all...

I could go on for several hours (and have done on more than one
occasion) but will leave it at this:

Beyond assigning to Fate the fact that Verona contains an inordinate
number of folks who act rashly, hastily, without forethought or planning
or consideration of consequences, Fate is not the cause of the tragedy
in R&J so far as I can see.

Mari Bonomi

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 25 Apr 2001 15:11:14 -0500
Subject: 13.1130 Re: Romeo and Juliet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1130 Re: Romeo and Juliet

Philip Weller asks,

>How do you (either of you) account for the statement that R & J's love
>is star-crossed?  To me, it doesn't appear that the Chorus is presenting
>it as a matter for discussion or speculation.

I suppose one - or a couple -  may be considered to be "star-crossed"
because of the unhappy conjunction of two or more people with
dispositions that invite disaster.  But if R&J are "star-crossed" in any
absolute sense, such that they can make no responsible choices,  but are
mere victims of chance, we would be here dealing with the equivalent of
the poor, mad Ophelia, in her madness merely an object, now a static
result, no longer a character at all. If R&J are absolutely
"star-crossed," then they are just other mad Ophelias; but that is not
the sense of this play - no matter what that mouthy Chorus says. The
burden of the argument of this play - as of any play worth its salt -
clearly favors choice and responsibility for choice as factors.

Consider those poor people who drowned on the Titanic: they were
certainly "star-crossed," they could neither foresee nor escape the
disaster, yet presumably many made choices about how they would accept
their inevitable death; they horribly had plenty of time to do so. As
Hamlet says, "The readiness is all" - and the "readiness" is choice.

L. Swilley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 25 Apr 2002 23:56:32 -0700
Subject: 13.1130 Re: Romeo and Juliet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1130 Re: Romeo and Juliet

Martin Steward wrote (with tongue firmly in cheek, I hope):

>Nobody seemed at all bothered about what the ballet, or the play upon
>which it was based, was about, let alone its themes of juvenile
>delinquency, children disobeying parents, drug abuse, teenage sex
>(facilitated by members of the clergy and the caring professions), gang
>warfare, and, yes, "blatant heterosexuality", which elevates sexual love
>to such a pitch of intensity that it leaves only self-slaughter remains
>as a response to the problems of growing up.
>
>Who'd want their 10 year-old to see such filth?

As father of two girls, presently 15 and 18, I have always encouraged
them to watch movies and some television shows and plays that contain
adult (R-rated) content but express strong, genuine emotions, or show
emotions playing out in clear, dramatic, and humane ways, in order to
educate them about the world beyond their textbooks and protected
middleclass life.  So I showed them "Saving Private Ryan" for its
depiction of the heroism of ordinary men in great events.  We watched
"Lawrence of Arabia" for its picture of obsessive, even eccentric
individual action in history.

And I presented Zefferelli's R&J to them as the most accessible and
scenic version of Shakespeare on romantic love (with its natural
accompaniment, sex).  I believe they let the gang warfare and drug abuse
pass as incidental to the passion.

Unfortunately, they also came away impressed with the amount of
swordplay in past times.  Tsk, kids!  The bad with the good, I guess.

Al Magary

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.