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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
Banned Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0435  Monday, 16 February 2004

[1]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Feb 2004 13:06:52 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Feb 2004 10:42:52 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare

[3]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Feb 2004 12:49:37 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare

[4]     From:   Alan Pierpoint <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Feb 2004 02:16:55 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Feb 2004 13:06:52 -0000
Subject: 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare

 >can we not assume that at
 >least Juliet (maybe Romeo too) was prepubescent at age 13, even going on
 >14?

As I understand it, the error here is to assume that because 19th
century puberty was later than 21st century puberty, 16th century
puberty was later still.  In fact, I believe, industrialisation and the
related health problems massively increased the age of puberty, which
had been earlier in pre-industrial times.  Puberty is now so unnaturally
early in some 21st century girls because we are rich in food and have
easy lifestyles and therefore our bodies are able to invest resources in
maturation rather than simple survival.

That's probably a bit oversimplified (I'm no scientist), but sums up
what I have read on the subject.

Thomas Larque.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Feb 2004 10:42:52 -0600
Subject: 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare

At the risk of further muddling the issue, I will make this attempt to
straighten some things out.

1 -- There is, of course, this new scientific evidence to suggest that
the age of the onset of menses in European women has declined in recent
years, that and this says something about maturity of women in the
Europe of past centuries. Personally, I find this counter-intuitive,
especially in light of my experience with Third World cultures. However,
I lack the scientific knowledge to critique the evidence, and my
experience outside Euro-American culture (except, of course, Alabama)
has been significantly limited in recent years. Nevertheless, I don't
know that the age of onset now has any relevance to 16th Century
European culture or the play of *Romeo and Juliet*.

2 -- The determinant in marriage among Europeans up until fairly recent
times was whether the couple could be self-supporting. Women could be
married off as soon as they were able to bear children -- if the money,
as well as the family's inclination, was there. Juliet is not quite
fourteen. Her father is reluctant to have her marry that young, but she
is to see if she finds County Paris attractive. Capulet changes his mind
when Tybalt is killed and decides that she must marry immediately.
Juliet's mother married and bore Juliet "much upon these years." The
Nurse swears by her "maidenhood at twelve year old." The Wife of Bath
was married at the same age as the Nurse.

3 -- There is, therefore, nothing significant about Juliet's marrying
either Romeo or Paris at that age. She is not unusual, if not quite
typical, and merely at the lower end of the accepted age range for
marriage in the Europe of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Cheers,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Feb 2004 12:49:37 -0600
Subject: 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare

Larry Weiss <
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 > wrote,

 >>can we not assume that at
 >>least Juliet (maybe Romeo too) was prepubescent at age 13, even going on
 >>14?
 >
 >Why should we assume that given her mother's observation (I.iii) that
 >
 >"Here in Verona, ladies of esteem,
 >Are made already mothers:  by my count
 >I was your mother much upon these years
 >That you are now a maid."

Good point, Don Bloom's too (" . . . Juliet's speech at the beginning of
III, 2. . . .")  I concede, though I do wonder about those statistics.
Perhaps Veronese women matured early-this is also Alan Pierpoint's
point-or perhaps the stats, reflecting increasingly better diet and
health conditions from 19th to 20th century, suggest that upper class
children matured relatively early, or perhaps Shakespeare, with poetic
license, attributes to a 13-year old the romantic (including fully
sexual) capabilities of a somewhat older woman-something analogous to
what you see in medieval paintings where a child is portrayed as a
small-sized adult.  However, my larger point-really a question-was about
puppy versus romantic love, even more basically, the nature of love,
whatever Juliet's biopsychological development.   Alan asks, "But does
the quality of [Juliet's first love] really seem "puppy"?   This gets to
my question.  What exactly is puppy love versus the more mature
"romantic" kind.  For starters, let me suggest that, while it may have
the intensity, even the all-consuming quality of the other, and while it
may even involve putting the love object on a pedestal of perfection,
puppy love lacks other qualities: desire to merge (which comes from
sexual maturity); acceptance of physical and/or psychological
imperfections; willingness to sacrifice oneself for the other (or, as a
colleague I lunched with yesterday suggested, to take a bullet if not to
die for!).  I don't think 10-year old boys in puppy love would fantasize
about self-sacrifice.  I seem to recall that, with puppy love, the face
of the other was all-important. Romantic love involves more, as Don so
nicely put it: "She is not looking forward to a little hand holding, but
to getting well and truly . . . well, enough said."  I think puppy love,
intense though it be, is more hand holding than "getting well and truly
. . . ." Incidentally, one could ask the same question about friendship:
that between two 10-year old boys and two 15-year olds.

David Cohen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan Pierpoint <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Feb 2004 02:16:55 EST
Subject: 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0426 Banned Shakespeare

 >When Juliet tries to refuse (to marry Paris), her father
 >condemns her to beg or sell herself in the streets.
 >"But, and you will not wed . . ."
 >David Evett

I'm not convinced that Juliet had no choice in the matter.  Capulet's
famous tantrum in III, v, is not the pronouncement of a man with power,
but the bellowing of a man without it.  He can disown her, yes, but he
can't force her to marry against her will, and that's part of what's got
him so upset.  He's also way out of line for a man in his time, place,
and position (as Shakespeare conceives them), as his wife and the Nurse
tell him before he's even finished.  Capulet can be a hothead, but he
can also be reasonable, as when he cools off Tybalt in Act I.  Today's
rant could mellow into tomorrow's acceptance; and even if it didn't,
Juliet can still say no.  As for begging or selling herself in the
streets, couldn't the good Friar smuggle her off to Mantua until the
storm blows over?

Respectfully,
Alan Pierpoint

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