The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0271  Wednesday, 5 June 2013


From:        William Sutton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 5, 2013 3:50:19 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Petruchio


What’s in a name?


Love this discussion about Petruchio. 

There are several others in the play named and not necessarily seen. 

Like Antony and Potpan and Nell and Susan Grindstone amongst the Capulet servants. 

All of them knaves according to Capulet’s commands. 


Also the son and heir of old Tiberio and the afore-mentioned young Petruchio. 


The party guests named in the letter the servant can’t read. Illiteracy and literacy being sharply delineated by the Petrarchan love of Romeo and the grounded first true love of Juliet. Artifice vs Nature. 


‘Signior Martino and his wife and daughters;

County Anselme and his beauteous sisters; 

the lady widow of Vitravio;

Signior Placentio and his lovely nieces; 

Mercutio and his brother Valentine; 

mine uncle Capulet, his wife and daughters;

my fair niece Rosaline; Livia; 

Signior Valentio and his cousin Tybalt, 

Lucio and the lively Helena.’ 


A fair assembly indeed as in the ball took place and one assumes they are among the mingling guests, 


Valentine the absent brother of Mercutio.

And just where the hell is Rosaline, except on about five or six key characters lips and on the invitation. A Capulet and Juliet’s cousin. Sister to Tybalt, no; Lord Capulet’s side of the family and fair? 


Then those musicians first, second, and third: Simon Catling, Hugh Rebeck and James (Jack) Soundpost. Usually assigned character descriptions as 1st 2nd 3rd Musician when they are readily identifiable and have specific monikers. The music of love in the play being firmly grounded in words and not music, as in the callous musicians hanging out for a free meal while the supposedly dead Juliet lies upstairs. No music with her silver sound for heart’s ease unless you pay for it. The Friar had promised them a gig he knew would not be going through.


It’s funny that the servant names are very English and not very Italian. 


The watchmen likewise first second third. No names but there are more than just two companions commanded by the first: 

‘go some of you whoe’er you find attach’ suggests several to search the immediate vicinity and arrest suspects,

‘go tell the prince’ is to Paris’ page

‘the Capulets’ 2nd watchman

and ‘the Montagues’ 3rd watchman

and then some others search. 

Who's left? The ghosts of Mercutio and Tybalt?


So how many are there?


The citizens too who are sick of the feuding and interrupt the first street brawl.

All help to populate this civic fiction, this two hours traffic of our stage.


My favourite bit of aurally nominally truthful text is Juliet’s:


My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words

Of that tongue’s utterance, yet I know the sound:


and indeed their recently spoken and shared sonnet amounts to about 90 words for Romeo.


Art thou not Romeo and a Montague?


What’s in a name?


Sound and fury signifying nothing. Or everything. Or something.


Musingly yours,

William S-)


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