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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: April ::
Romeo and Juliet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0277  Thursday, 5 April 2007

[1] 	From: 	Evelyn Gajowski <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 4 Apr 2007 09:39:20 -0700
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 18.0272 Romeo and Juliet

[2] 	From: 	Jack Heller <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 4 Apr 2007 15:16:23 -0400 (EDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0258 Romeo and Juliet

[3] 	From: 	Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 4 Apr 2007 14:30:18 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 18.0272 Romeo and Juliet

[4] 	From: 	Stuart Manger <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 5 Apr 2007 12:11:53 +0100 (BST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0272 Romeo and Juliet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Evelyn Gajowski <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 4 Apr 2007 09:39:20 -0700
Subject: 18.0272 Romeo and Juliet
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0272 Romeo and Juliet

To Romeo and Juliet thread participants -

With the usual hesitations about mentioning one's own work, in view of 
the discussion on this thread, I feel obliged to point out that back in 
1992, I argued, in a 25-30 pp. chapter, how Juliet's subjectivity is 
juxtaposed to Romeo's participation in the Petrarchan discursive 
tradition, how her realism (comparatively speaking) contrasts with his 
romanticism, esp. in the balcony scene, etc. (The Art of Loving: Female 
Subjectivity and Male Discursive Traditions in Shakespeare's Tragedies).

Evelyn Gajowski
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jack Heller <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 4 Apr 2007 15:16:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 18.0258 Romeo and Juliet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0258 Romeo and Juliet

What seems to me missing so far in this discussion of R&J is sufficient 
consideration of the social context. If Juliet is too young to be 
marrying and having sex, well, she's no younger than when her mother and 
her nurse got started. If Romeo occasionally slips into vulgarity about 
his temporary desire for Rosaline, well, his vulgarity hardly compares 
to Mercutio's. Yet these two young characters, however naive, seem to 
want something more metaphysical than mere coitus-hence their recourse 
to religious language and marriage. Are they foolish? Yes. But there's 
nothing in their fictional society to embrace as better values.

Jack Heller

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 4 Apr 2007 14:30:18 -0500
Subject: 18.0272 Romeo and Juliet
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0272 Romeo and Juliet

Marilyn A. Bonomi suggests that "Romeo, at least, is far more infatuated 
with the idea of love than with the fact of love" and tells us that 
"Juliet [is] by far the stronger and more attractive character."

I'm not sure how you tell them apart (being in love and being in love 
with love) in his case. He may be something of an idiot, but it looks to 
me like he's one because he is so much in love. While I have used the 
phrase "in love with love" myself, I'm not sure it actually means 
anything, or that it's really anything more than a way of criticizing a 
character obliquely.

Likewise, I'm not sure that Juliet is "stronger" as a character. If you 
mean that she is dramatically more effective and more memorable than 
Romeo, that's one thing. If you mean, if she were a real person that we 
knew, we would regard her as more emotionally strong, determined, not 
given to evasion or being flaccid as compared to Romeo (or, say, Ophelia).

It might be possible to support the latter point, but again I have 
reservations. Where is she firm but Romeo malleable?

The former, however, gets me to my actual point (at last): has anyone 
collected evidence as to the response of people over the centuries to 
Shakespeare's characters? Not just critics, although those would be the 
easiest to gather, but ordinary readers and watchers.

We could anticipate a great sentimental affection in the 19th Century 
for the sweet young ladies, but what else?

Cheers,
don

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Stuart Manger <
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Date: 		Thursday, 5 Apr 2007 12:11:53 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 18.0272 Romeo and Juliet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0272 Romeo and Juliet

I think Shakespeare feels Juliet is the more insightful and dynamic of 
the pair as well. her soliloquies are developed with much less 
conventional courtly imagery, far more sensual and sexual power, 
aspirational, and ecstatic as well as full of sheer self-awareness. Shak 
carefully plots the stages of her stunned reaction at seeing Romeo at 
the Capulet dance - indeed she is very nearly speechless until she can 
get out of the room, and yes, some kind of infatuation. BUT that changes 
as the play develops. Interestingly, much of Juliet's development takes 
place when she is alone, almost as much as Shakespeare later uses for 
illuminating Hamlet's journey. It is Juliet the young woman as opposed 
to besotted girl who most engages us. Once she is past parrying Romeo's 
expected and quite flattering but pretty unsubtle maneuverings to get 
her in bed, she starts thinking about what she truly feels for him. 
Incidentally, it is JULIET who at three critical points in the play 
moves the plot forward mightily - asking who her partner is at the 
dance, fixing the Nurse for the bedroom encounter - coercing Friar 
Lawrence into the drug plot. Her dynamism is a continuum of the play.

What wakes both is, for me, the desperately short time they spend 
together immediately after marriage - a truly seismic and traumatic 
scene. The reality of a more adult passion that shakes both of them out 
of any semblance of childhood emerges.

Romeo shifts from a wearyingly predictable and thoroughly conventional 
early Shakespeare macho lad with a 'let's get her into bed' kind of 
fever. That bedroom scene is the tipping point. Having directed this 
play three times, twice with central lovers and their various mates who 
were more or less the same age as Shakespeare posits in the play, I feel 
that listening to the young actors talking, this is the moment. Romeo 
wanted to bed her, yes, but the impact of that tragically short time 
they have in bed together shakes him to the roots - look at his imagery, 
the struggle to escape the courtly language of the past?. His male 
sexuality, until now so adolescent, so almost behind the bike sheds 
sniggering and boasting with the gang of mates, is re-founded in a very 
different place, and after that, his language, his male daring and 
seriousness, and thus his danger to Juliet and himself are increased a 
hundredfold. Think what he does AFTER the bedroom scene. Headlong, 
impetuous,
  maybe, but in fact sustained by a totally new view of her, of himself 
and what he now truly wants in life, and what Shakespeare does is to 
speed-up R's transformation from callow poser to dazed and shattered 
lover by of all things absence! VERY bold and dangerous thing to do on 
stage! Enforced flight, then offstage for a good twenty minutes. During 
that time, we watch Juliet's own similarly dangerous intensity growing, 
culminating, not in rhetoric, but in action in the immensely risky and 
scary Friar Lawrence drug plot. And then Romeo decides on his own drug 
plot, dares instant death by returning to Verona, kills the favoured 
suitor - all of which he thinks of as purely incidental to the main 
point - union in death with Juliet. Her cool and courageous pragmatism 
defeated by his heroic impetuosity, but an impetuosity that is 
completely understandable.

Working with young actors, it soon became clear that while they could be 
very laid back, and talk about both R and J as 'jerks' who destroyed 
themselves, ALL forcefully acknowledged that love, sexual passion so 
completely disorientates at their age that they could see how it could 
all happen the way it does. So I'd be very ware of classroom cynicism. 
Kids in class are very prone to act cool and dismiss. Get them on stage 
engaging with the imagery, and the action, and I can tell you that their 
reaction is very, very different. Adolescents are by nature and 
inclination emotionally schizophrenic about their own drives and 
emotional complexity. An Orwellian capacity to think two radically 
opposite and contradictory things at once and believe completely in both 
simply goes with the territory!

Stuart Manger

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