The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1975 Thursday, 18 November 2004
Date: Wednesday, 17 Nov 2004 15:12:59 -0500
Subject: 15.1968 Greenblatt
Comment: RE: SHK 15.1968 Greenblatt
I think it quite probable that Lady Montague was killed off because the
role was doubled. But the doubling would have been with the role of the
Nurse. The Nurse has no lines in the final scene and no clear entrance
either. But the text does give us "Enter Capels," for which Riverside
adds "[Capulet, Lady Capulet, and others]."
When Montague enters, he tells us immediately of his wife's death, as if
Shakespeare were forestalling our curiosity about why she's not here to
supply an on-stage presence to balance Lady Capulet's. Many productions
refrain from killing her off just to retain such theatrical symmetry at
I admit that for the Nurse to be on stage and silent might seem unusual,
but if one allows that Lady Montague's absence would evoke curiosity, by
the same expectation, the Nurse's absence would be very surprising. In
support, Friar Lawrence's present tense--"to the marriage/ Her nurse is
privy"--sounds as if she were there to be nodded at, and I would assume
that it's not just the Friar to whom the Prince is referring to when he
says "Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished."
This would mean, of course, a boy actress in two female roles, with no
necessity to suppose an adult male actor doing either.
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