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Astrology In Romeo and Juliet

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Katrina Funk

on 6 April 2014

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Transcript of Astrology In Romeo and Juliet

Star-Crossed Lovers
Prominence of Astrology in The Middle Ages
During the time in which
Romeo and Juliet
was written, astrology played a large role in society. Although not supported by the church, the people of the Middle Ages relied heavily on horoscopes and planet positions to predict their fate and the fate of their loved ones.
Prominence of Astrology in
Romeo and Juliet
"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 misadventur'd piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife. . ."
Significance of Pair Signs
Only two zodiacal signs contain doubles: Pisces, and Gemini. Close examination of the play points to Gemini as providing its archetypal foundation. Gemini's planetary ruler is Mercury. How revealing that one of the principal characters, Romeo's friend, is even named Mercutio, possibly riffed from the planet itself.
Other References to Astrology in
Romeo and Juliet
Although the significance of pair signs in Romeo and Juliet is the most obvious reference to astrology made by Shakespeare, there are many more slightly more discreet references to astrology in this tragic love story.
Mercutio, for example.
Example of Oxymoron In
Romeo and Juliet
"Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.
Why, then O brawling love! O loving hate! . . .
O heavy lightness! Serious vanity! . . .
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! . . ."
Astrology In Romeo and Juliet
Pairs represent the principle of polarity which can either resolve it's self in unity and harmony, or remain polarized in tension and conflict. One of the unusual hallmarks of the language used in
Romeo and Juliet,
something not characteristic of any other Shakespearean play, is the number of phrases using opposites, a poetic device known as oxymoron.
As planetary ruler of Gemini, Mercury gives us vital clues to the characters' actions as well as the moral messages of the play. The downside of Mercury's talents is being glib, talkative without saying anything of substance, superficial as well as changeable, mentally busy but endlessly distracted, and ingratiating but "phony"--in short, "mercurial". These traits more than accurately describe the character of Mercutio.
Mercury is also know as a jokester. The character of Mercutio makes a joke even as he has been slain my Tybalt and is moments away from his death. In short, Shakespeare certainly knew his astrology.
Summary
As you can see, Shakespeare frequently used references to astrology in his works.
This is true, especially in the tale of Romeo and Juliet. With the use of oxymoron and pair signs as well as characters whose names and characteristics accurately mirror particular zodiacal signs. Shakespeare was obviously very educated in the field of astrology and wanted to incorporate it into his works. One does not often think of astrology when on the topic of Shakespeare, but if one looks close enough there are some very surprising and fascinating hints.
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