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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: November ::
Pop Culture: Juliet's Nurse analyzed on Guiding Light
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2216  Monday, 24 November 2003

From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Nov 2003 09:19:23 -0500
Subject: 14.2198 Pop Culture: Juliet's Nurse analyzed on
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2198 Pop Culture: Juliet's Nurse analyzed on
Guiding Light

Abigail Quart <
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 > writes,

>Beth:  Her innocence. At the start of the play, the Nurse is a widow
>who's lost both her husband and her child. But then, she doesn't give up
>on love.  And when Romeo and Juliet find each other, the Nurse falls in
>love with love all over again. She sees it as this pure and innocent
>thing. But then, she's the one that realizes this love will end badly.
>She's the one who realizes that love doesn't always triumph and that
>it's not innocent at all. She knows that when you give in to love and
>passion, heartbreak and disaster follows. And she tries to tell Juliet
>that, but Juliet doesn't listen. And look where love got Juliet. We all
>know her story, don't we?

It's nice to know that English majors are getting paying jobs writing
screenplays in Hollywood, even if they're the kids of producers who just
graduated from Hollywood High and are recycling their senior term
papers. It seems that the more insulated, alienated and irrelevant
Hollywood reality grows relative to the profound social crises of
contemporary America, the more self-referential its dramatic narratives.
I've noticed that the later episodes of Seinfeld and Friends lose any
pretense to working class New York and increasingly are populated by
rich people in expensive clothes in luxurious settings fretting over
their career ambitions (last night the crisis on Friends involved the
possibility of some friends winning the lottery when others didn't, a
metaphor I imagine for the 25 million dollar contracts they were
negotiating at the time).

This is, however, an egregious misreading of the Nurse who is an old
bawd with fewer scruples than teeth. Far from being "in love with love,"
like a true bawd she tries to teach Juliet to make a virtue of
necessity, as she is to be sold off to Paris. The obscene jokes she's
apparently been making to Juliet since she was a toddler do not evoke
the "purity and innocence" of love. If she knows this love will end
badly, only her instinct for pimping can explain her keeping it from
Juliet's parents and her industry in bringing about her ruin. I don't
know whether the morals of present day Hollywood vis a vis Renaissance
Europe, or someone's obtuse English teacher accounts for this bizarre
character analysis, but it's a cinch the writer got more than the $44.75
shakespeareessays.com would have asked.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
http://phoenixandturtle.net

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