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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Romeo and Juliet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1209  Wednesday, 1 May 2002

[1]     From:   Al Magary <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Apr 2002 14:28:51 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1188 Re: Romeo and Juliet

[2]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Apr 2002 17:54:48 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1188 Re: Romeo and Juliet

[3]     From:   Jane Drake Brody <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 1 May 2002 09:17:20 EDT
        Subj:   R&J


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Apr 2002 14:28:51 -0700
Subject: 13.1188 Re: Romeo and Juliet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1188 Re: Romeo and Juliet

> I still think that R&J is an anti-civil war play...
> Perhaps Shakespeare is saying
> that when two halves of a society engages in bloody conflict innocent
> people will be butchered by chance and fate.

The writing of R&J was ca. 1594-95, after the completion of the four
Wars of the Roses plays (with Richard III, 1591), and he immediately
returned to the causes of the Lancaster-York strife  (starting with
Richard II, 1595).  One could fill several emails with quotes about the
multiple evils and tragedies of civil war, and some could come from R&J
too.

Al Magary

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Apr 2002 17:54:48 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1188 Re: Romeo and Juliet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1188 Re: Romeo and Juliet

> In both of Brian Willis' latest posts on this thread
> he seems concerned
> with the question of how we can feel sympathy for
> Romeo.  I think it's a
> key question, but I don't agree with an implication
> (I thought I saw) in
> his first post.  I think the implication is that we
> can't sympathize
> with Romeo if he's a sap.  When Romeo throws himself
> on the floor and
> bawls Romeo is quite sappy  ("unmanly" is Friar
> Laurence's word for
> it).  Still, we can sympathize, even in age in which
> it's been cool to
> be cool for so long that we're practically frozen.
> I think that the
> creation of a sympathetic sap is as great an
> achievement as the creation
> of a sympathetic Shylock.

It wasn't my assertion Philip, but you make a good point.

> What support is there for this?  Romeo was not
> executed for killing
> Tybalt; just sent about 20 miles away.  Why would
> anyone assume that
> Tybalt would have suffered a more grievous doom?

After the two homicides, the parents argue as much.  Romeo is banished
merely because he carried the law into his own hands.

>  All
> the unfortunate
> events directly flow from the main characters' rash
> insistence on
> immediate gratification of their lust.

I'm not sure if lust is such a bad thing, [pause] :)especially in all
the works, if it is not forced upon someone. One reason the tragedy
occurs is because the lovers are forced to keep their love (and the
possibility of love springing from hate) private.

> There is no strong candidate for villain in A&C
> either, and that play is
> also about two lustful lovers who kill themselves.
> But no one, I think,
> would seriously contend that they are mere passive
> victims of fate.

No, not at all but Caesar is a massive candidate for villain in my
estimation. He certainly is not a sympathetic character.

I said,

> > I would like us to consider however how the feud
> DOES play into all of
> > this. Could Romeo and Juliet come out in the open
> with their marriage?
> > Of course they could. But what would be the
> consequences of such an
> > action? Their parents would certainly not condone
> the match.

and was replied to,

> Are you sure?  There are strong hints that the
> embers of the feud are
> burnt out in the older generation.  It is kept alive
> only by the
> servants, for whom it is a source of exercise, and
> Tybalt, whose
> attitude is roundly condemned by Capulet.

I am sure. The first scene is an explosion of that hate on all quarters
save Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio. Why does everyone forget the brief
but brilliantly comic bits where Capulet and Montague demand to join the
fight? Surely that illustrates the volatility of the feud in every
class. Capulet later holds Tybalt back because he is a host and
Shakespeare is willing to give us a glimpse that the feud could end when
good will and love overcomes hate. Which you put so well...:)

> Why did WS give us
> these passages if not
> to suggest that a little patience and diplomacy
> might have brought the
> lovers together and given quietus to the feud into
> the bargain.

Brian Willis

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jane Drake Brody <
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Date:           Wednesday, 1 May 2002 09:17:20 EDT
Subject:        R&J

I may have missed some posting re the R&J discussion, so forgive me if I
am stating the obvious.  I really do always worry that I am much to
shallow for this list, so I usually don't join in but it seems to me
that R&J is a cautionary tale about the danger of passion.  In my
reading of the plays, this theme seems to be a constant.  Of course, in
order to be labelled "tragic" some sense of fate must be involved, but
for me the "fate" is activated whenever a character capitulates to
strong emotion.  The tragedy is that humans are pre-programmed for such
tragedy by their very nature and that R&J is a reworking of the idea
that we are half angel/half animal.  The two lovers transgress when they
choose Passion over Logic.

Ted Hughes in Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being sees this as
a war conducted between Venus/passion and Juno/logic.  Hughes believes
that there are two conjoint myths which he calls "the Tragic Equation".
These myths deal with the battle between the physical/sexual/natural
world and the intellectual/anti- sexual/civilized/ world. He equates
Venus with the "female" world and Juno with the "male." I have always
found this book and his arguments to be weirdly wonderful and would love
to hear how the list members feel about it.

Jane Drake Brody

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