The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0272 Wednesday, 4 April 2007
Date: Monday, 2 Apr 2007 18:24:09 -0400
Subject: 18.0266 Romeo and Juliet
Comment: RE: SHK 18.0266 Romeo and Juliet
Donald Bloom comments sadly on "the degree to which a sense of romance
has at last died out in the English-speaking world" in regards to the
more cynical views on R&J.
I would argue, however, that it's not "romance" in the sense of
immediate and deeply passionate love that Shakespeare is portraying in
this play, though folks certainly can experience it on this level.
Romeo, at least, is far more infatuated with the idea of love than with
the fact of love. It's not just Rosaline who inspires such insipidity in
him (though I'll certainly grant that his language is far more lofty
when he speaks about Juliet!).
While I rather liked the suggestion from someone (sorry, I didn't save
that email) that Romeo's response to "what satisfaction canst thou have
tonight" is quick thinking to hide his desire to bed her, I'd suggest
rather that "t'exchange of thy love's faithful vow for mine" is pretty
much an accurate description of what Romeo wants.
After all, he says to Friar Lawrence (who worries about leaving them
alone 'till holy Church incorporate two in one'): "Do thou but close our
hands with holy words/Then love-devouring death do what he dare/It is
enough I may but call her mine." (Note: typing lines from memory; a
word may be off here or there)
He wants words, our "lover boy," not action -- he'll die happy if he's
married to her, not if he's bedded her.
Actually, he speaks in more sexual imagery about Rosaline than about
Juliet (Rosaline will not 'ope her lap to saint-seducing gold'-I think
she's just to savvy to want a callow boy like Romeo!).
Juliet understands that sex comes with marriage-her soliloquy urging
night to hasten Romeo's arrival in their marriage bed is highly sensual
and quite beautiful.
In fact, I think Juliet by far the stronger and more attractive character.
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