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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: May ::
Playing Capulet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0228  Wednesday, 13 May 2009

[1] From:   Mari Bonomi <
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     Date:   Friday, 8 May 2009 15:40:19 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0221 Playing Capulet

[2] From:   Frank Whigham <
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     Date:   Friday, 8 May 2009 15:43:05 -0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0221 Playing Capulet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Mari Bonomi <
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Date:       Friday, 8 May 2009 15:40:19 -0400
Subject: 20.0221 Playing Capulet
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0221 Playing Capulet

I think where I depart from those who see Capulet as a villain or as 
violating his obligations to his daughter is based on the timing of when 
he makes the decision.

Tybalt (his putative heir, given what he says in 1.5) is dead.

Worse, Tybalt killed the Prince's "near ally" and kinsman, Mercutio.

The Capulet family is in disarray. His only precious child, the "hopeful 
lady of [his]earth," is in jeopardy: if Capulet is punished (as seems 
likely) by the Prince for the death of Mercutio, what will become of Juliet?

The only answer he sees (and yes, he suffers from the identical flaw of 
impetuousness that Romeo and Juliet and Friar Lawrence all suffer from!) 
is offered him by Paris, who shows up at the grief-stricken and panicked 
Capulet's doorstep purportedly to offer consolation but actually to push 
his suit for Juliet once more.

How better to protect his darling than to marry her *into* the Prince's 
family?  Is not that his obligation? To protect Juliet as best he can?

He does not explain himself to Juliet (I suspect most fathers did not 
"explain" to their daughters why they chose certain mates for them.) but 
simply expects her acquiescence. Of course he's shocked and angered by 
her refusal.

I do not think attempting to marry Juliet to Paris is a villainous thing 
to do. I believe it is the action of a caring and devoted father.

Of course, from Juliet's perspective, it's horrible. She's already 
married; she sees no way out but to refuse. But simply because one 
empathizes with Juliet, one should not label Capulet a villain.

Capulet vs Edmund? vs Richard III? vs Iago?  He is in no way deserving 
of that company!

Mari Bonomi

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Frank Whigham <
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Date:       Friday, 8 May 2009 15:43:05 -0500
Subject: 20.0221 Playing Capulet
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0221 Playing Capulet

Stone is tricky to use on this matter. A level-headed, intelligent, and 
well-informed treatment of the negotiations between parents and children 
about marriages among the English social elite (and below as well, to 
some degree, though this is harder to document) can be found in Keith 
Wrightson, English Society, 1580-1680.

The unusual and problematic youth of the kids in R&J is part of what any 
original playgoer would have seen. Shakespeare certainly wanted us to 
think about Juliet's age as under fourteen (1.3). Plenty of elite 
teenagers were married young for kinship reasons but not allowed to 
cohabit for fear of deleterious effects of premature sexual activity.

I'm not sure how many modern parents would countenance autonomous "real 
love" as the authorizing experience of their own mid-teenagers.

~Frank Whigham

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