The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1340 Sunday, 27 December 1998.
Date: Tuesday, 22 Dec 1998 08:07:18 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 9.1327 New Romeo and Juliet Question
Comment: Re: SHK 9.1327 New Romeo and Juliet Question
Indulgent fellow SHAKSPERians, another query on R&J, this time from me,
not my students.
I've previously not used any of the scholarly editions of R&J, as my
grad school courses have omitted that play except as a preview (and the
prof. used the DOVER!!!! b/c it had NO notes). As an experiment with my
high school sophomore Honors class, I'm currently using the Arden (not
the 3rd... not out yet...; this one's copyright '79) and found an
editorial decision that I've not seen in ANY other editions, including
the old and new Folger Library (which previously was my teaching text).
At the end of 2.2, the editor puts what I have ALWAYS seen, no matter in
what edition, as the first four lines of 2.3 right in the middle of
Romeo's last speech. So Romeo says, "Were I were sleep and peace so
sweet to rest. / The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night. . . .
/ . . . Titan's wheels. / Hence will I to my ghostly Sire's close cell.
. . ."
Brian Gibbons, the editor, argues that the lines are more Romeo's style
than Friar L's, and that the lines are analogous to the departure lines
in 3.5. He also offers some Q1, Q2 sorts of explanations.
My problem (other than tradition) w/ this interpretation is that the
lines celebrate day and call night "frowning." If these lines are
Romeo's, they are the only ones in the play where he privileges day over
night. Given the overwhelming texual evidence, from his father's "shuts
up his windows, locks fair daylight out, / And makes himself an
artificial night" to Juliet's presence making the tomb "a feasting
presence full of light," Romeo insistently exalts night, and love's
beauty as the light against that darkness. Given that Juliet has LEFT
(she's already said "good night" numerous times), and that she is the
Sun in the East, how would he NOW see grey-eyed morn smiling? The sun
is gone. Night is departing. Night is good. Morn is NOT good. And
the analogy to 3.5 is weak, b/c certainly in that scene both feel, "Then
window let day in and let life out."
I've no way of getting to a Riverside or a Cambridge R&J in the next
several days, as our library has neither edition and I'm mured up to the
school newspaper's deadline until after bookstores close.
My students await your answers with somewhat bated breath; they were
fascinated by the previous help and felt righteous at their ability to
raise legitimate questions about the text.
Thank you, in advance!