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Lecture on Romeo and Juliet

Alexa Huang
by

Miss Alexa Alice Joubin

on 19 October 2016

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Transcript of Lecture on Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet
Alexa Huang
Significance
Puns
Written in 1595 (around the time Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream)

The Nurse's reference to an earthquake (1.3.23) in 1580
The play is EXPERIMENTAL

Tempo: fast-paced tragedy (common wisdom: the same story can be comic if told fast, tragic if told slowly)

Choice of young aristocrats (fictional lovers) who are not royal as the main characters

Flexibility with which Shakespeare developed a narrow tragic theme

Senecan model of "Fate" --> accidents
The use of a sleeping potion to get out of an unwelcome marriage --> Greek novelist Xenophon's Ephesiaca (4th c. A.D.)

Luigi da Porto's story set in Verona (c. 1530) - Montecchi vs. Cappellati

Shakespeare's direct source = Arthur Brooke's 1562 The Tragical history of Romeus and Juliet 3000 lines of dull verse; moral tone)
puns as heard vs. puns as read

puns turn on homophony (likeness of sound with difference of meaning)

homonymy (difference of meaning with similarity of form)

foreshadowing: Mercutio: "Ask for me tomorrow and you will find me a
grave
man" (3.1.98-99)

"street-wise" punning at the beginning of Romeo and Juliet

Sampson and Gregory (1.1)
"Fearful" Symmetry
perennial tragedy of the human condition (the doom to which passionate young love is inevitably sentenced)
mistiming of events (Friar Laurence, Romeo, Juliet and others)
blame Romeo and Juliet for the whole catastrophe (they refuse to bridle their desires) -- secular morality play
The Limitations of Common Critical Approaches
James Northcote's Romeo and Juliet, act 5 scene 3, Monument belonging to the Capulets: Romeo and Paris dead, Juliet and Friar Laurence. Oil on canvas, ca. 1790
The play is "self aware"
Theatrical performance is on the characters' minds.
Identity has to be constructed through language. Identity has to be articulated.
Symbolically, Juliet sends away her mother and the Nurse, and swallows the sleeping potion alone:
a play about youthful exuberance and love?
feud? love?
private life
public roles
Friar / Prince

Characters on the margins

Mercutio

Tybalt
Language of Excess vs. Measured Self-restraint
A SONNET

If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.


Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.


Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.


Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.

Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take.
ROMEO

[To JULIET] If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

JULIET

Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.

ROMEO

Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

JULIET

Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

ROMEO

O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

JULIET

Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.

ROMEO

Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged.

JULIET

Then have my lips the sin that they have took.

ROMEO

Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.

JULIET

You kiss by the book.
Other characters relapse into an older language of melodrama -- exclamations
Romeo and Juliet's language = powerful, allusive blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter)
Common Moves in Research Paper
Establish research question and argument
Establish a niche (what's new)
Occupy and niche (develop argument, cite evidence)
Writing a Literary Studies Paper
Appearance and Nature of Caesar's Ghost
What might Freud say?
stage direction: Enter the Ghost of Caesar (4.2) at Brutus's camp near Sardis (now western Turkey)
Unlike medieval dream visions (e.g. Chaucer's Book of the Duchesse), Brutus meets this specter while awake rather than asleep
Most Shakespearean ghosts appear with all their wounds upon them (the "blood-baltered" Banquo (ghost) shakes "gory locks" at Macbeth (his murderer)

The Ghost in Hamlet appears "in his habit as he lived" (murdered by poison in the ear --> his body has no wounds)
But is Caesar's ghost torn by wounds?

Audience has already seen the bloody robe of Caesar and his body "marred ... by traitors"
Brutus finds that the "thing" he killed is unable to be slain

Now appearing in his tent, this specter reflects the blame back on Brutus ("Thy evil spirit, Brutus")
Freud's notion of the uncanny (uncertainty as to whether something is alive or dead

Das Unheimliche -- familiar yet foreign at the same time
cognitive dissonance
Cassius, overcome by "hateful error, melancholy's child," has Pindarus kill him (5.3.67-68)

Cassius's last words: "Caesar, thou art reveng'd,/ Even with the sword that kill'd thee" (5.3.45-46)

Where's Caesar's ghost?

It's in Brutus's interepretation: "O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet!/ Thy spirit walks abroad, and turns our swords/ In our own proper entrails" (5.3.94-96)

What is the specter? Brutus's "evil spirit" or Caesar's avenging spirit?
Is Caesar's Ghost seeking or effecting revenge?
Brutus mentions "the Ghost of Caesar" appeared to him last night at Philippi (5.5.17)
Brutus addresses Caesar: "Caesar, now be still, / I kill'd not thee with half so good a will" (5.5.60-51) before running upon his sword held by Strato and dies
Avenue of Self-Knowledge?
Title page of the second quarto edition (Q2) printed by Thomas Creede in 1599
http://luna.folger.edu/
Farewell. God knows when we shall meet again.
I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins
That almost freezes up the heat of life. ...
My dismal scene I needs must act alone (4.3.14-19)
The verb to “act” = (1) stage performance; (2) activity

Juliet knows she is an “actress”: “love-performing night”; “true love acted”; “dismal scene
Romeo and Juliet, dir. Renato Castellani (1954), John Gielgud
LANGUAGE
Nurse: She's dead, deceased. She's dead, alack the day!
Capulet's wife: Alack the day, she's dead, she's dead, she's dead!
4.4.50-51

Nurse: O day, O day, O day, O hateful day ...

Paris: O love! O life: not life, but love in death.
4.4.83 and 73

Capulet: O child, O child, my soul, and not my child!
4.4.89
Compare to Thomas Kyd's Spanish Tragedy (distraught Hieronimo exclaims about the murder of his son:

"Oh eyes, no eyes, but fountains fraught with tears; / O life, no life, but lively form of death" (3.2.1-2)
Romeo + Rosaline
Juliet + Paris
Romeo + Juliet
a sonnet spoken by two characters
breaks the convention of the love sonnet of the adoring lover who writes of his beloved
Petrarch's sonnets to Laura
Love's Labour's Lost: comic instances -- when the convention is broken (when a lover is overheard by his lady as he rehearses his sonnet)
Act 1 Scene 5 lines 90-103
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
<-- symmetry / antitheses

<-- likeness of the two households

<-- "civil blood" is an oxymoron

<-- sex coupled with death -- "fatal" loins (another oxymoron)

<-- the two households generate sexually ("loins") not enemies but lovers

<-- marriage of the lovers opposed by the stars

<-- death of the lovers: should we grieve or should we rejoice? (their death brings about the death of enmity between the Montague and Capulet

<-- graceful interlacing of images
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
Light vs. Darkness

Temporality (speeding up or slowing down Time)

Symbolic meanings of locations:
Verona
Romeo in exile
Monument of the Capulets
Conflicting / competing loyalty

Sexuality
Commercial Break!
Full transcript