Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Most In-Depth Analysis of Romeo and Juliet You Will Ever Read

Before I really did anything with this blog, I occasionally posted stuff on Facebook notes. I was thinking the other day about something I had written on there about a year and a half ago, and I thought, "I should find that and post that on my real blog. Because it was fun."

I was taking a Shakespeare class and our very first play we had to read was Romeo and Juliet, a play I've always disliked. This time through I read it and shared my lighthearted summary and thoughts with the Rinkies as I did so. It made it so much more entertaining. Even more importantly, it actually gave me an entirely new perspective on the play that I was able to turn into a (rather excellent if I do say so myself) paper that I used for both this class and a later theater history class.

Let it be known that when I include character quotes, I'm not just writing my own dialogue - I am doing my best to paraphrase what is actually there. You can even find a copy of the play for free online and follow along, if you would like.

So, without further ado (there's probably a Shakespearean Much Ado About Nothing joke in here somewhere), here is that blog post from January 2011.

I finally finished rereading Romeo & Juliet. While doing so, I was in RinkChat, detailing the plot to people, with more than your average amount of snark. This is that transcript. (Entertaining comments from other people are put in brackets.) (2012 Hannah says: Also in italics. It's easier.) I didn't start this until Act 2, but if you've ever wanted to know what happens in Romeo and Juliet from the balcony scene onward, here you go.

Romeo's an idiot. His answer to everything Juliet asks him is, "Love."
"Who are you?" "I love you."
"Is that Romeo?" "Not if you don't want me to be. I love you."
"How'd you climb over the wall to get here?" "Love."
"You know they'll kill you if they find you, right?" "I'd rather die for hate than die without love."
And, my favorite: "How'd you find out where I lived?" "Love. OK, some dude told me. But seriously, I love you." [Sentynel: Modern answer: Love. Also, Facebook. But mostly love.]
That, in a nutshell, is the balcony scene. Which makes Juliet's follow-up line kind of hilarious. "Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say, 'Ay.'" YA THINK? [Sentynel: "Actually, no, I've changed my mind. Bye!" Me: And everyone lives happily ever after.]

Juliet's pretty level-headed, actually. At least at this point. She keeps on having to remind Romeo that his huge comparisons don't really mean anything. "I swear by the moon--" "Well, that's a stupid thing to swear by. It changes all the time." "Then what do I swear by?" "I dunno. Yourself, I guess." "I swear by my love--" "Never mind. Let's wait awhile before we start swearing. I feel it's a little soon for that."

Romeo won't leave until she says she loves him back. Dang. I guess those were the magic words, because her idiot switch definitely just got turned on. She wants to marry him the next day. Juliet just foreshadowingly told him that if he were a little bird, she'd love him too much and kill him.

Next day: La dee da dee da, the friar's picking flowers. When Romeo shows up, the friar notices he hasn't been to bed yet and gets all panicky that he slept with Rosaline (Romeo's obsession of the week before Juliet) and is in sin now. When Romeo tells him he's in love with Juliet now, the friar's response includes something along the lines of, "What? No more Rosaline? Well, that's a lot of tears wasted, then." Romeo complains that the friar scolded him for loving Rosaline, to which the friar wisely responds, "For doting, not for loving." Romeo's response to that is, of course, sane and rational: "YOU JUST DON'T WANT ME TO LOVE ANYONE AT ALL!" Romeo says, "Well, THIS girl loves me back." And the friar says, "Yeah, Rosaline knew you didn't really know what love was." Dang. I kind of love the friar.

Next scene: Benvolio, who's a pretty decent friend, and Mercutio, who's awesomely snarky and sarcastic about Romeo's drama, talk about some stuff. Then Romeo shows up, which makes Benvolio say, "Here comes Romeo! Here comes Romeo!" which is sung, in my mind, to the tune of "This Is Halloween."

Mercutio snarks at Romeo. They yell at each other for awhile and call each other geese a lot. Mercutio: "Now, Romeo, isn't this more fun than pining for love?"

The nurse shows up and Mercutio makes rude jokes to her. The nurse calls him a young whippersnapper and is really mad about it for awhile. She tells Romeo she's delivering a message from Juliet, but helpfully says, "What she bid me say, I will keep to myself." So she's just going to tell him Juliet HAS a message for him, but not tell him what it is? Romeo asks the nurse to speak well of him to Juliet. The nurse says, "I'll tell her that! She'll be so happy!" He rightly says, "Er... what?" He asks her to bring Juliet to the friar's that afternoon to be married. And bring a rope ladder. ...The nurse tells him Juliet's been writing alliterative poetry about Romeo and rosemary. He ignores her and says, "Just tell Juliet what I said."

Back in Juliet's room, she complains that the nurse is TOO SLOW getting back, and she wishes she were telepathic instead. The nurse finally gets back and asks for a minute to catch her breath, but Juliet is in full-fledged demanding teenager mode. She does NOT accept this as an answer, saying, "How art thou out of breath when thou hast breath to say to me that thou art out of breath?" The nurse tells her she has terrible taste in men, even though Romeo IS pretty. Juliet responds: "All this did I know before." Well, at least she knows she's being stupid about this. Finally she tells her the plan, and Juliet says, "YAY! Bye."

Friar Awesome tells Romeo that "violent delights have violent ends." At this point, Romeo probably sticks his fingers in his ears and goes, "LA LA LA LA."

Mercutio and Benvolio argue for awhile about which one of them is more hot-tempered. Tybalt shows up and they all mock each other for awhile.

Then Romeo shows up and Tybalt declares his hate for him. Romeo cryptically responds about having a reason to love him, and tries to take off, but Tybalt says, "Whatever, dude, I wanna fight you." Romeo, true to his character's theme, protests, "But I love you!" Mercutio thinks Romeo's just wimping out and decides to fight Tybalt for him.

Romeo decides to run into the middle of the swordfight, but Tybalt stabs Mercutio anyway. Mercutio says, "It's just a flesh wound." But then a second later he says he's going to die and hopes a dog, a rat, a mouse, and a cat all scratch Tybalt to death. He then blames Romeo for getting him killed, and curses the Montagues and the Capulets both and limps off to "some house."  Romeo whines that Juliet made him weak. I have a suspicion, though, that he was always that way.

Mercutio dies and Tybalt comes back. So Romeo fights him and kills him. Benvolio tells him to run away, and Romeo whines a bit more about his fate and finally leaves.

The Prince shows up and asks what happened, and Benvolio cheerfully announces that Romeo is the murderer. A bit later, he tries to give a slightly fuller account, but Mrs. Capulet is like, "He's a Montague! He's a liar!" and the Prince says, "Hmm. Then, OK, let's banish him."

Romeo and Juliet are both obsessed with their loved ones being stars. Romeo mused earlier about how, if her eyes were plucked out of her head and put in the sky, they'd make it daytime 24/7. And now Juliet wants to "cut him out in little stars" to put in the sky when she dies. Not when he dies. When SHE dies. That is a terrifying dying wish. [Nyperold: Talk about star-crossed.]

The nurse comes in ranting about someone being dead. Like a page later, after a lot of panicking from Juliet, she finally says Tybalt is the one who's dead, not Romeo, and that Romeo is banished for killing him. Juliet is ticked off that a good-looking man could be a murderer, and she does a monologue's worth of ranting about it. The nurse cheerfully agrees that all men are scum. Then Juliet says, "Don't you dare talk about my Romeo that way! I LOVE HIM I LOVE HIM!"

She acknowledges that Tybalt's death is a bit sad, then freaks out for about 25 lines that Romeo is banished. She asks the nurse where Mom and Dad Capulet are, and the nurse says, "Weeping and wailing over Tybalt's corpse." Well, THAT kinda puts things into perspective, doesn't it, Juliet?

Juliet then essentially says, "Well, I'm going to be crying about Romeo being banished LONG after they're done crying about Tybalt." I can no longer wait for this girl to die. Way to sympathize with family members in mourning.

Juliet threatens to kill herself. The nurse says she'll find Romeo. Juliet said, "Okee-dokee then!" and cheerfully trots off to bed. [Goosey: Well, she IS 14. Or was it 12? Me: Almost 14. Goosey: Sounds about age-appropriate, yeah.]

The friar tells Romeo he's banished, and Romeo flips out about as much as Juliet does. The friar tries to reason with him: "O rude unthankfulness! ...The kind prince, taking thy part, hath rushed aside the law, and turned that black word 'death' to banishment." Romeo says, "But I'll never get to see Juliet again!" Yeah, if only you were dead, it would be so much easier to see her then.

Romeo expresses his jealousy of flies that get to sit on Juliet's hand and kiss her. Does Romeo WANT to sit on Juliet's hand? Do flies want to kiss her?

The friar gets all frustrated that Romeo doesn't listen to him, and Romeo plays the "You don't understand me! You don't understand true love!" card.

The nurse shows up and asks where Romeo is. The friar's answer: "He's the one sitting on the floor crying." Romeo expresses his wish to operate on himself and remove his name. So he tries to stab himself. [Goosey: Poor understanding of anatomy.]

The friar says, "You LOOK like a man, but on the other hand you cry like a woman, and you react to bad news like an animal." I love this guy so much. [Goosey: Awesome Friar is Awesome.]

The friar asks him to go see Juliet one last time, then go into hiding until things cool down and then maybe they can get the prince to let Romeo back in. The nurse gives Romeo a ring from Juliet, and he says, "YAY THIS MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER!" [Randy: He's sorta bi-polar]

In the meantime, Dad Capulet tells Paris (who wants to marry Juliet) that tonight might not be a good night to propose. They agree Thursday sounds more like a proposing kind of day.

Cut back to Romeo and Juliet snuggling by the window. Or maybe just standing gazing into each other's eyes, imagining what they would look like as stars. The sun is coming up. Romeo says he has to go, it's daytime. Juliet says, "No, it's not! That's not the sun! It's... um... a meteor!" Romeo says, "OK, fine, it's not daytime. I'll stay here and die happy." Juliet says, "KIDDING! It's totally daytime. Run run run!"

Juliet: "More light and light it grows." Romeo: "More dark and dark our woes." That's where passion truly lies - in being able to rhyme with each other.

As Romeo climbs down, Juliet suddenly has an image of him looking pretty dead. Romeo completely mistakes this for some romantic utterance, and tenderly replies, "And trust me, love, in my eye so do you [look dead]." [Maryam: Man, I never actually paid attention when reading this play. Maybe I should have. Or maybe I just need a ThePhan to read it for me.]

Mom Capulet goes into Juliet's room and says, "Sheesh, you've cried like a whole day for Tybalt. Enough of that." Geez, maybe Juliet was right about her crying longer for Romeo than they do for Tybalt... Juliet gets all crafty and tells her mom she wants Romeo dead for killing Tybalt. Mom announces Juliet's upcoming marriage to Paris. Oh, dang. I misread this, then. Turns out they're getting MARRIED on Thursday. She finds out tonight. Juliet decides she's done being crafty, and says, "Nope! I'm going to marry Romeo!" Her mom says, "Well, we'll see what your father has to say about that."

Dad Capulet is told Juliet doesn't want to marry Paris, but he says she'll marry him or he'll drag her there by force. He then refers to her as "greensickness carrion," "baggage," and "tallow-face." After he's done screaming and ranting at her, both the nurse and his wife tell him they think he's being just a LITTLE harsh. He says, nope, she will either marry Paris or he'll kick her out.

Juliet begs for a postponement of the wedding, "or if you do not, make the bridal bed in that dim monument where Tybalt lies." It's a suicide threat, but at first I thought it was an "I'll have sex on my cousin's grave" threat.

Juliet asks the nurse for help, and the nurse says, "Romeo's gone. He's never coming back. Just marry the count. He's a better man than Romeo anyway." Juliet says OK, surprising the nurse, but as soon as the nurse leaves, Juliet decides to go and get poison from the friar so she can diiiiiiiiiiiie.

Speaking of the friar... he's talking to Paris, and is not so happy about performing a marriage where the bride doesn't want to do it. Paris seems like a really good guy, actually. He says it was her father's plan, not necessarily his. He's deliberately kept his distance from Juliet because he figured in this time of mourning she wouldn't necessarily want to see him.

Juliet shows up and Paris greets her: "Happily met, my lady and my wife!" Juliet says, "Not your wife yet." (Dun dun dun.) Er. But Paris seems to be under the impression that Juliet loves him. So he may be a decent guy, but he's a bit stupid.

Paris leaves and Juliet talks with the friar privately. She demands he offer her a solution, and if he doesn't, she'll just kill herself. Friar Awesome seems to realize she just might mean it this time, and he offers her the fake death stuff instead. (Not a bad move on his part. Better fake dead than really dead. He has no way of knowing how terribly this is going to go.) Juliet lists all the terrible ways she'd rather die than marry Paris.

The friar details the plan: she takes the fake poison, her family all mourns her, they bury her, Romeo steals her body, and then they run away to get married when she wakes up 24 hours later. Juliet's response: "Give me, give me!"

Juliet goes home and ever so sweetly tells her parents she's agreed to be married. Mom and Dad are delighted at their child's sudden reform.

Wedding eve night. Juliet suspects for a moment that it's ACTUAL poison and that the friar just wants to kill her so that nobody will know he already married her to Romeo. She also worries for awhile that she might wake up too early and have a panic attack in the tomb. But then she says, "What the hey," and just drinks it all anyway.

The nurse goes to wake her up and finds she's "dead." Mom Capulet comes to see what's wrong, and the nurse, as usual, just yells exclamations rather than actually giving any explanations. The nurse's reaction: "O lamentable day!" Mom's reaction: "O woeful time!" Dad's reaction: "Death, that hath ta'en her hence to make me well, ties up my tongue and will not let me speak." He seems to be speaking just fine to me...

The stage directions indicate, "All at once cry out and wring their hands." Which is a hilarious image in the middle of all these speeches.

The nurse is ever so eloquent: "O woe! O woeful, woeful, woeful day! Most lamentable day, most woeful day... O day, O day, O day! O hateful day! Never was seen so black a day as this. O woeful day! O woeful day!" A DEAD ONE

Then there's suddenly an entire page of one of the servants arguing with some musicians over what songs they should play.

Romeo, in the meantime, has had a dream that he died and Juliet kissed him back to life. Just then, Romeo's servant shows up to tell him Juliet's dead. Romeo is trying to figure out where to buy poison, when ta-da! An apothecary shows up out of nowhere. The apothecary says it's illegal to sell poison. Romeo says, "You look way too poor to refuse my money." The apothecary reluctantly agrees, and Romeo, with his poison, runs off to Juliet's grave so he can die there.

The friar finds out his letter never reached Romeo because the guy who was supposed to deliver it got quarantined. The friar goes, "Oh crap," and runs to the tomb with a crowbar to let Juliet out.

Paris is mourning Juliet at her tomb when Romeo shows up. Romeo tells his servant that he wants to die in Juliet's tomb mostly because he wants to get a ring back from her (?!?). He also says if his servant tries to watch him kill himself, he'll remove his limbs and throw them all over the cemetery. The servant wisely agrees to leave. But then decides to stay and watch anyway.

Paris sees Romeo tries to break into Juliet's tomb and figures he wants to defile her body or something, so he approaches him. Romeo says, "Please don't make me kill you." Paris arrests him, and Romeo kills him.

Romeo goes into Juliet's tomb and muses on her for awhile. He also apologizes to Tybalt. He theorizes that Death killed Juliet to marry her. Then he drinks the poison and dies. So much for getting the ring he came here for. But maybe he was just lying to his servant about that.

The friar shows up and the servant says Romeo's been here like half an hour, which means either that monologue or that sword fight got stretched WAY out. The friar goes and sees that Paris and Romeo are dead, and he's understandably upset. Then Juliet wakes up and says helpfully, "I do remember well where I should be, and there I am." The friar says Romeo is dead and suggests Juliet joins a convent. Then he leaves, and Juliet kisses Romeo, hoping that there'll be enough poison on his lips that she can die too. But that's taking too long, so she stabs herself instead.

The night watchman shows up and finds Romeo's servant, the friar, and all the dead bodies. Then the Prince and the Capulets show up. Mom Capulet says there are people in the streets crying, "Romeo," "Juliet," or "Paris," and they're all running toward the tomb. Word travels fast.

The friar gives a brief explanation of what happened. [Goosey: If this were CSI, they'd be fingerprinting the friar.] The prince confirms this is what happened, and then scolds Capulet and Montague for their feud: "See where this led?" Montague agrees to make a golden statue of Juliet. The prince sends them away "to have more talk of these sad things."

The End.

I'm pretty sure very little of that was either Capulet or Montague's fault. The deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt probably did arise from the feud. But the rest was entirely the stupid teenagers.


  1. 'The prince confirms this is what happened'

    I have to wonder how the prince knew? What, was he in on it with the friar all along and they just manipulated the whole Romeo-Juliet romance in the right direction so they could use it as one huge object lesson?

    1. I went and looked it up and turns out someone had Romeo's suicide note, and the prince read it and confirmed it that way ("This letter doth make good the friar's words"). But I sure wish it had been a massive object lesson conspiracy.