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Allusions in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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Brittany McDonald

on 27 April 2015

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Transcript of Allusions in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Allusions in Shakespeare's
Romeo and Juliet

Allusion #1
"Star-Crossed"
Star-crossed means unlucky, that is, not favored by the stars.
*Crossing also implies a passing by or missing one another.
Allusion #2
carry coals to Newcastle
It refers to the fact that historically, the economy of Newcastle upon Tyne in north-eastern England was heavily dependent on the distribution and sale of coal—by the time of the first known recording of the phrase in 1538, 15,000 tonnes of coal were being exported annually from the area[4]—and therefore any attempt to sell coal to Newcastle would be doomed to failure because of the economic principle of supply and demand.
Allusion #3
Queen Mab
Fairy queen
She can bring good fortune or curses such as plagues or blisters.
She is also described as a midwife to help sleepers 'give birth' to their dreams.
Allusion #4
King Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid
King Cophetua was an African king who had sworn off women until he laid eyes on Penelophon, a beggar-maid. Falling instantly in love with her, he marries her and makes her his wife.
Cosmic imagery was important because
astrology
was a belief system for many in Elizabethan England, including Queen Elizabeth I.
Selling, carrying, bringing, or taking coal(s) to Newcastle is an idiom of British origin describing a foolhardy or pointless action.
Allusion #4
Love and Suicide
Dido -
Phoenician princess who fell in love with Aeneas, who later left her causing her to commit suicide.
Cleopatra -
Egyptian princess who married Julius Caesar and left him for Marc Anthony (another famous Roman)with whom she plotted to overthrow Rome. Anthony hears falls information that Cleopatra is dead and kills himself; she, in turn, kills herself.

Helen-
"the face that launched a thousand ships." She committed suicide after Menelaus died.


Love and Suicide Continued...
Hero
- priestess of Aphrodite kept in a secluded tower. Leander sees her, falls for her, attempts to cross the strait to get to her but drowns. Hero commits suicide by leaping from the tower.
Thisbe
- falls in love with her neighbor; their parents want to keep them apart; a complicated plan involving a lion leads Pyramus to believe Thisbe is dead: he commits suicide and so does Thisbe.
Allusion #5
St. Francis
Francis of Assisi
(1181-1226)
Italian Catholic friar
founded the Franciscan Order for monks
organized first nativity scene
recorded as having the first stigmata
proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory in 1228
Allusion #6
Prince of Cats
Mercutio refers to Tybalt as the "Good King of Cats" or the "Prince of Cats" because his demeanor and actions are much like a cats': lithe, agile, predatory and territorial. Tybalt is hot-tempered and quarrelsome, as we see by how quick he is to engage in battle.

But the "Prince of Cats" title also stems from an earlier time, an earlier tale. There is a fable called "Reynard the Fox", in which one of the characters is a cat named Tibert/Tibalt/Tybalt that is called the "Prince of Cats". This character was also quite quarrelsome, as the Tybalt of Romeo and Juliet was.
Allusion #8
Phaeton
Phaeton was a young son of Helios and Klymene who begged his father to let him drive the chariot of the sun.
The Sun-god reluctantly conceded to the boy's wishes and handed him the reigns. However, the inexperienced
Phaeton quickly lost control of the immortal steeds, and the sun-chariot veered out of control setting the earth aflame, scorching the plains of Africa to desert.

Zeus
was appalled by the destruction and
struck the boy from the chariot with a thunderbolt
, hurling his flaming body into the waters of the river Eridanos. His sisters, the Heliades, gathered on the banks, and in their mourning with transformed into amber-teared poplar trees.

After his death Phaeton was placed amongst the stars as the constellation Auriga
("the Charioteer"), or else transformed into the god of the star which the Greeks called Phaethon--the planet Jupiter or Saturn.
The name Phaethon means "the shining" or "radiant one."
Allusion #7
Rosemary
A token of remembrance for lovers and the dead

"Doth not
rosemary
and
Romeo
begin both with a letter?" 2.4.104
Allusion #10
Defy your stars

To defy your stars is to deny fate or rebel against destiny. You refuse to accept your chosen path.
Full transcript