Romeo and Juliet (was F&H and Austen)

Paul Andinach pandinac at
Sun Jan 12 20:28:46 EST 2003

On Mon, 13 Jan 2003, Katarina Hjärpe wrote:

> > I remember reading an interpretation of Romeo & Juliet
> > which suggested that in Shakespeare's day audiences
> > would have had no sympathy of R or J, regarding them
> > as irresponsibly young. Although people were
> > considered adult in their teens they didn't marry then
> > (except in very wealthy families),
> Although I like the interpretation, I think it falls with that
> sentence:  Romeo and Juliet are both clearly from wealthy
> families, and the disaster strikes in part because Juliet is
> supposed to get married to Paris.
> Of course, "looks what happens when you try to force kids to get
> married"  could be part of the point. :-)

My recollection of what I was taught is that versions of R&J prior to
Shakespeare's were about irresponsible youth, but that Shakespeare's
version wasn't. And if nothing else, I think it's fairly clear from
the text that Shakespeare blames the parents as much as anyone else.

(I read an sf story once that had a throwaway joke about Shakespeare
being taken by a time traveller to see the first production of R&J put
on by an alien race, and being devastated to discover that the aliens
could only understand it as a cautionary tale about disrespecting
one's parents. I remember thinking at the time that he would have
taken it a bit better than that, since for many of his contemporaries
that's what R&J *was*.)

"Hold fast to the one noble thing."

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