CAUTION! MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!
What’s not to love about Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream? It talks of love and fairies and dreams coming true. It seems fun and whimsical and even a little bit naughty. But have modern audiences made it a lot more light-hearted than it really is?
The play opens with a court scene, where Hermia is told that if she doesn’t marry the man her father has chosen for her she will either become a nun, isolated from her friends and family or DIE! Those are seriously her options?!??!!!! Then we meet Helena who is absolutely in love with Demetrius (who we find out is actually in love with her best friend Hermia). Oh, and guess what? Not only is Demetrius in love with Hermia but he’s the guy Hermia’s father is making her marry! Uhhh… No wonder Helena is upset. So far not so light and fluffy if you ask me.
The play lightens up a bit when we meet The Mechanicals, but even then the stakes are high. If they upset the Duke with their play they could get hanged!!!!! Hanged…Seriously… What the actual……. !!!!!
We are introduced to the third world of the play, the Fairy world, through the character Puck *cue dramatic instrumental music*. I bet you’re thinking ‘Oh the fairies how cute and sweet and beautiful right?’ WRONG. If there is anything that Harry Potter has taught me, it’s that things that sweet, cute and beautiful may not be what they seem!
While I was reading up on Puck, I was surprised to find the character’s origins in Fae, a type of mythical being or legendary creature in European folklore. A form of spirit, Fae is often described as metaphysical, supernatural or preternatural. Quite dark in reality and not like the fairies we have come to associate the term with at all! Hobgoblins are a another type of spirit I’ve looked at. According to folklore around different parts of England, hobgoblins were consider to be helpful spirits around the house. If annoyed thought, they could turn quite mischievous! In Irish folklore, the hobgoblin was actually considered a demon with head of an ass! In Wales, spirits like Puck were malignant, queer, little figures; long and grotesque with the look of something like a chicken. Gross.
Okay. So Puck has some dark origins but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he has to be played as dark character, right? Well I don’t know. It was almost as if Shakespeare anticipated our confusion with the character, so (being the helpful playwright he was) he wrote a pretty clear character description of Puck using monologues and soliloquy. While Puck is generally regarded as mischievous at worst, he also seems to get pleasure out of the pain of other characters – borderline cruel if you ask me! And speaking of cruel, Oberon and Titania’s relationship, whats going on there? Oberon is so mean to her!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream has all these dark undertones yet in this modern age we have turned it in to something whimsical, sweet and light-hearted. I guess its all down to interpretation, isn’t it? Our own view on fairies and magic has shifted from Shakespeare’s time. Throw a love story in with the story of normal, every day people like you and I and, well, it’s not hard to see the light-heartedness of the play.
The best thing about Shakespeare is that none of his plays are written in black and white. He leaves questions unanswered and writes flawed protagonists. Why? Well, he was writing about the world around him and frankly, life isn’t black and white. Life can be great but it can also be cruel. A lot of questions will never be answered. What is love really? Is there another world out there, other than our own? Is the supernatural real? Can we make our dreams come true through hard work or does luck have a lot to do with it ? One thing I think the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream does give us is the opportunity to look at ourselves and laugh, because there’s one thing that life is definitely not, and that’s boring.
— Abbie x
We often get asked by students (and teachers) how we keep 3 shows, and so much Shakespeare in our heads! It has had me thinking, how did I learn so much Shakespeare in such a short time? And more importantly, what do I do to demystify Shakespeare’s language and put it into my own voice?
When I was at school I studied Shakespeare in English. We read his plays out loud, all sitting down in the classroom swapping at every new dialogue line with the teacher reading out any stage directions. We would then maybe watch a movie or two, if they were available, and then toddle off to write our essays. At assessment time you could find the English students during individual study time all silently pouring over their texts as if they were still writing an essay on To Kill a Mocking Bird or some other piece of literature.
Through this process I wrote good essays about themes and the dichotomy of the human spirit, but I never felt close to Shakespeare’s text and words. I loved Shakespeare’s language but never truly felt like it was my language. It was something to be enjoyed from afar, to be written about, something to discuss over tea and biscuits; not something I wanted to really investigate, get lost in a black hole of googling, or something that I could be physically and mentally challenging. Shakespeare was never something that I thought could be mine.
To essay, or not to essay?
There is nothing wrong with knowing the themes of the plays, nor spending time reading the text, or indeed writing essays… But that is not why Shakespeare wrote what he wrote. He wrote these words to be read out loud, to be performed, to inspire and excite people. This is something that I had always known from an academic point of view, but it wasn’t until I was at university studying acting that I really understood the impact of this and how we are usually taught to approach Shakespeare at school.
The thing that I really wanted to know was how could I still sound like me when performing Shakespeare? How could these people that I relate to on so many levels also sound relatable?
The best advice I was given when tackling Shakespeare was “make it your own”, but what did that mean? In my experience, I think that it means something slightly different to everyone so all I can do is give a few pointers and talk through a few of the things that I do when I first pick up a piece of Shakespeare.
What does that even mean?
One of the first ways that I make the language my own is to go to find a dictionary. I know that this might seem a little tedious, but believe me it has helped me more times that I can count! I always go through my text reading it aloud. Whenever I come across a word or a phrase that I don’t understand I look it up in a dictionary. From the simple to the obscure a dictionary can help to demystify what the characters are talking about. A great example of this is one of Hamlet’s famous lines:
“Now might I do it pat, now ‘a is a-praying.”
‘Pat’ often trips me up, and is great because depending on the dictionary/footnotes it can mean a variety of things. Such as: neatly, opportunely, aptly, simple, slick, smooth, but, precisely… The list goes on! If you have lots of time and really want to nerd out have a look at different dictionaries for different interpretations of the same word. Footnotes in your texts are also a massive help: someone else has already had a go at looking through resources and figuring out what characters are going on about! When unlocking Shakespeare it is really about having as many tools at your disposal as possible so get defining those words and phrases.
She said what?
Great, so now I know what the words mean, I know what the characters are talking about and I guess I know what is going on generally… What next, Eleanor? So glad you asked! The next thing I do is get up out of my chair, that is all the “book work” I do. As I mentioned before, Shakespeare is meant to be performed! I would highly recommend finding a buddy (or a small group) and tacking the text scene by scene, speech by speech, reading it aloud. Get up and improvise some blocking. Move where you think you might need to move and be a bit silly with it. If you are studying a comedy I find that this is 100% the best way to uncover the majority of the jokes. If you think it is a little bit naughty, chances are you are on the right track! Jokes in Shakespeare are often full of innuendoes, making fun of how words sound, or simply repeating sounds in an amusing pattern. A great example of a character that does all three of these things is Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet:
“Why, is not this better now than groaning for love?
now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo; now art
thou what thou art, by art as well as by nature:
for this drivelling love is like a great natural,
that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole.”
Once you have read aloud you might want to go back to the dictionary and clarify a few words that still remain illusive.
In other words…
So now you know what the words mean, you have had a bash at speaking the language, and you’ve moved around a bit. Now it is time to literally put the text into your own words. This is also referred to as paraphrasing the language. I find that this is a really important step in making Shakespeare sound like me, so that it fits my body rather than a performer over 400 years ago. There are some online resources around that have already done this, but I think it is always good to do it yourself first and if you get really lost to then check them out. In fact, I think that this is a thing I would recommend for life. You don’t need to spend too long paraphrasing, and it definitely doesn’t need to be word for word. This should be a tool to use to help deepen your understanding of the text. If you still have your buddies around you can discuss (in your own words) what the characters are saying, where they are, and what is happening to them. Often brainstorming aloud can inspire further discussion and really unlock the more subtle layers of the language.
If you have time, and are really enjoying the discovery of Shakespeare and want to explore a little further check out any performances you can, interviews of actors or find a different text with different footnotes. The beauty of Shakespeare’s language is that there is room for everyone to have a slightly different interpretation, it might mean something slightly different to each person. Share your ideas, have fun with the language, see if you can be silly and throw caution to the wind. I love this language so much. I truly believe that you can too. Take Shakespeare’s plays off of their pedestals and throw them around a bit, give them a run for their money and see how much you can pull them apart. This is how I unlock Shakespeare. This is how I perform Shakespeare in my own voice.
Now I could write so much more on my process, but I wanted to give you a taste and to excite you to give it a go and discover how you might make Shakespeare your own and not some piece of literature to be read in silence out of some form of respect. Go forth and enjoy!
— Eleanor – Team M
Some websites/resources that I keep coming back to:
- Shakespeare’s words http://www.shakespeareswords.com – This is my go to website to start off. It has the full texts, synopsis, character lists, word definitions etc. This is also available to buy as a book
- Shakespeare defined http://www.shakespearedefined.com – another great resource/tool for getting those definitions flowing
- Absolute Shakespeare http://absoluteshakespeare.com – the plays, some interesting resources, a bit of variety in this list
- Ian McKellen on acting Shakespeare http://youtu.be/25QcYpYCu4Q – mind the quality of the video but the man makes some fine points
- John Barton’s Playing Shakespeare http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLboSQWmG70j_S2nWkRlncZYW49nLeFKWj – a lot of information but well worth the watch
- Chilli Monologues http://youtu.be/KKn4WFG4Je8 – some chilli Shakespeare fun… Remember Treat Yo’ Self!
So, it’s 2016, 400 years after the death of William Shakespeare. It is a requirement in the Australian High School curriculum that one or more of his plays are studied. His plays have been translated and performed in almost every single language on Earth. There will be at least FIVE Shakespeare plays produced in Sydney alone in 2016.
So hang on a second-
This is an English guy who never even knew Australia existed, he wrote in words that are completely foreign to the majority of Australians, why are we still insisting that school students sit down and decipher his work?
Whilst in Brisbane, in the midst of our north coast NSW and QLD tour, I decided to ask myself this question. I searched through several documents and articles writen by literary scholars and professors, and the resounding reason was this:
“He is the greatest dramatist, the greatest poet and the greatest prose writer in the history of the language.”
Now, for me, if I place myself is the shoes of a year 9 student trying to read Macbeth for the first time, this statement isn’t going to mean a whole lot to me. If anything, it would probably turn me away even more, making his literature something reserved for only the scholars and intellectuals of our society. So I dug a little deeper. I came across a website debate of which the topic was ‘Should Shakespeare still be taught in schools?’ The votes were 51% no, 49% yes. I am aware that this is only one online poll with an unknown number of votes, but some of the written answers were quite profound.
“Shakespeare’s language is so old that it is almost the same as making them read Italian or Greek.”
“As a high school student, I personally find works of Shakespeare irrelevant to life today.”
“When in the world would we use his material any where else than a high school exam?”
The overarching response from the students on this poll were that, sure, he is the greatest writer the Western world has ever known- but what if I have little interest in literature? When will I use his work if I am pursuing a trade or one of the many career paths that have nothing to do with drama or art?
These questions arise time and time again in our Q&A sessions after our shows. I know for a fact that I experienced the same problems in high school looking at his work. I think the issue is that it was only after school finished, out in the world that I became aware of how what I had experienced of Shakespeare was relevant to me. When I was in school, obliged to study his work, in a time where the human experiences of the plays were unknown to me, how was it going to be possible for me to engage and enjoy reading his work?
I would encourage students feeling this way to think outside the box. Outside the confines of your English classroom and think deeper about the people Shakespeare is writing about.
He writes Juliet, the 13 year old girl, (A year 8 or 9 student today) obsessed with myths and fables about love, (not dissimilar to learning about love from Twilight) and we get to witness her experience of her first love. We learn the foolishness of Romeo’s haste, and the potential consequences of rashness. The characters in Hamlet explore grief to us, with Hamlet’s inability to grieve, Ophelia’s destruction by grief, and Laertes’ outward rage in dealing with his grief. The Friar and Nurse in Romeo And Juliet demonstrate that age and experience do not equal guaranteed success! Macbeth explores the dangers of ambition, Iago of Othello ironically teaches us to be aware of jealousy, for it ‘It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.’ I could go on all day, believe me.
Shakespeare’s plays weren’t written to be read. They weren’t written for the classroom. They are words writ to be spoken aloud, performed and observed. So try and engage with the characters as people, not just fiction, and trust that even if you don’t see value to these plays today, one day later in life you will experience circumstances or emotions not dissimilar to those Shakespeare explored. Just turn on the news and you will see the things he wrote about. The US presidential campaign could be compared with Richard the Third. Warring nations and religions are no different to ‘two households, both alike in dignity’. Everyone will experience grief. Perhaps Shakespeare is a reference- a comfort in dark times, an explanation for why people act the way they do, or simply an escape from the ‘slings and arrows’ of everyday life. Once you sift pass the confusing words, (which I assure you isn’t difficult or something to be embarrassed about, actors/ directors are constantly referring to dictionaries or footnotes to understand a scene or a phrase.) you are able to enjoy his plays as stories. He was a storyteller, and a masterful one at that. He wants to ignite our imaginations and present the follies and intricacies of humankind.
I think what I have spoken about here is presented well in this version of the Seven Ages of Man speech. Click the image for this version, by the late Billie Brown. It is a beautiful and emotional performance of a speech simply about human life.
“… For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet, and her Romeo.”
Blackout… applause… the lights come up, and we take a bow for the last time as a cast. We file out to backstage where we all hug and congratulate each other for a great last show; a great season of this very unique production of Romeo And Juliet.
It’s been such a blast bringing this show to life for you all. From early in the rehearsal process – when we first explored the set, learnt our lines and discovered our characters – to sharing the show with all the wonderful audiences who have come to see us at the Opera House and the Arts Centre… the whole experience has been amazing. And every cast is like a little family that you live with for a time; but like everything, eventually it finishes. No matter how many shows you do, it’s always a bit sad when it comes to an end. It reminds me of one of Prospero’s great speeches in the Tempest (which Bell Shakespeare is currently performing at the Opera House!):
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
So what’s next?
We’re back on the road!!
Yep – after a little sleep, a few naps, we’re back in the rehearsal room with our in school shows: Macbeth Undone, Midsummer Madness, and Just Macbeth (abridged). Now we’ve been split back to Team Ariel and Team Caliban and the competition is on! Both teams are going to Melbourne, then Team A are hitting regional Victoria and Canberra while Team C visit Tasmania.
Re-rehearsing a show that you haven’t performed in a while is pretty strange. Your mind can play all kind of tricks on you – “Is this where I moved on this line? Where have the purple flowers gone? We definitely need new magic thumbs!” – but it’s also really fun. Because we know the shows so well, we can try all kinds of different things with the characters. As an actor you can make lots of creative choices, and coming back to a show gives you the opportunity to branch out a bit.
This is also the time of year to start thinking beyond The Players… scary! One of the most important parts of being a professional actor is auditioning. It’s like having to constantly go for a job interview, and if you’re lucky you have lots of them. Some of us are starting the think about what we want to do next, and luckily we’ve got a whole year’s worth of experience under our belt which means we’ll be show-fit and ready to take on the next challenge. So keep an eye out for us, you never know what we might be doing next…
See you back in school!
THE MIGHTY TEAM ARIEL
In the prologue of the play, William “Spoiler-alert” Shakespeare tells the audience that Romeo and Juliet love passionately and then take their lives. From the very beginning, love and death are closely linked.
In English, we have only one word for this indefinably large topic of love; whether you are referring to your cat, your brother, your girlfriend or that delicious plate of nachos. Similarly, the indefinably large topic of death is irreverently mentioned in our everyday life; my phone died, I died laughing, my dog died, I would have died if he’d seen me. In this play, Shakespeare uses these two words with a range of meanings and they are closely linked. Here are a few examples of ways that LOVE AND DEATH are linked in the play.
In Romeo’s very first scene, he says he is dead because Rosaline (his love) is not reciprocating his feelings (1). Bit of an exaggeration there. After Juliet first kisses Romeo at the party, she tells her nurse that she will stay forever single and die alone if she can’t have him as her husband (2). There is risk of death even having Romeo visit Juliet at her balcony (3). Death is love’s obstacle for these two characters from the start. They were certainly going to struggle for a happy ending.
Mercutio, Benvolio and Romeo are best buddies among the Montague clan. They would do anything for each other. The fight that takes place when Tybalt interferes with this bromance is not only the death of Mercutio but the death of trust, a friendship group, a cousin and a best mate. At the same time, it is the beginning of the end. It is Romeo’s love for Mercutio that drives him to seek revenge. In his reactive rage, Romeo tells Tybalt that they must fight until one or both of them are dead (4). He wasn’t lying.
In the family:
Tybalt’s murder is painful for his tightly knit Capulet family. They loved him dearly and Lady Capulet begs the death sentence for Romeo in retaliation for Tybalt’s murder. Lady Cap then tells Juliet that she plans to have Romeo murdered not knowing that Juliet has married him the day before (5). Although Juliet’s nurse has lost her best friend in Tybalt, she continues to help the lovers meet up that night because of her love for Juliet. Love is complicated right?
Sure, the Capulets and Montagues become Facebook friends at the end of the play and the riff is resolved but wasn’t there another possible outcome? What drove these characters to such extremity? I think Shakespeare wanted us to talk about the link between love and death and maybe that’s why this play is still so popular. These topics need discussing as much now as they did 420 years ago… and here we are. Go Shakespeare!
(1) Romeo: “She hath foresworn to love; and it that vow do I live dead that live to tell it now.”
(2) Juliet: “Go, ask his name – If he be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed”
(3) Juliet: “the place death if any of my kinsmen find thee here”
(4) Romeo “Either thou, or I, or both must go with him”
(5) Lady Capulet: “I’ll send to one in Mantua, where that same banish’d runagate doth live, shall give him such an unaccomstom’d dram that he shall soon keep Tybalt company.”
Mercutio (or Merc) as we’ve been calling him in the rehearsal room, has been called many things in his time. But that’s another story for another time. Today we’re talking about his role in Romeo and Juliet, what purpose he plays, and we’ll talk a little bit about what type of person he is – and how his actions impact those around him.
I thought that before we go into the main question, I might kick things off trying to unpack Mercutio’s personality, or character traits – based on what’s given to us in the text by Shakespeare, as well as one or two other sources before Shakespeare’s time.
Mercutio name appeared in the 1530 ‘Giulietta e Romeo‘ by Luigi Da Porto as ‘Marcuccio Guercio’ . By the time William Shakespeare came to write his version of Romeo and Juliet in 1597, he’d anglicised the characters’ names from the original Italian text – and thus Mercutio was born. In Da Porto’s text he was actually Romeo’s rival, because they both wanted to marry Juliet. He was said by Da Porto to ‘be a lion among lambs’ and to have an ‘ice-cold hand’. But that’s also another story for another time.
Shakespeare may have taken this idea about cold hands and extended on it because people have since associated Mercutio with the word Mercurial i.e. having unpredictable moods or behaviour. At Mercutio’s hottest we see him cursing love, dreams, ambitions and most notably, the Montagues and Capulets. At his coolest, we see him making inappropriate jokes, flirting with Juliet’s Nurse and trying to make his mates laugh. We see him change from one to the other often very quickly. He’s shown as being very skeptical of the things Romeo stands for, and it’s pretty quickly noticed that while him and Romeo are best mates, they’re also polar opposites. What ties him and Romeo and together though is probably their wit, they’re always talking in riddles and wordplay to try and outsmart each other. Mercutio is also shown to be pretty flippant about feelings, relationships and the more sensitive subjects raised by Romeo. He is shown to be a class clown figure, rejecting norms and living in a self-decided freedom. It’s also important to remember that Merc is not actually a Montague or a Capulet – but is related to the Prince of Verona as well as (The County) Paris, which possibly adds to his carefree and licentious behaviour.
This is a very, very, very brief character summary but I feel as though I should answer the question – or else I’ll never get to it.
As a dramatic device in the play – Mercutio operates as Romeo’s foil. He’s the opposite in every way. Writers often put in a foil character to more clearly define the morals and characteristics of the lead character – but also to offer some lightness to the dilemmas the lead may be going through. We see this constantly in Mercutio’s scenes with Romeo. Romeo complains to Mercutio and Benvolio about being in love with Rosaline (a girl we never see) and Mercutio tells him very crudely that what he’s feeling isn’t love or romance but instead, a more sexual urge. So in this instance, Mercutio’s purpose is to deter Romeo from pursuing love – which builds up Romeo’s momentum to pursue love – which ends in disaster.
This is furthered in Mercutio’s ‘Queen Mab’ soliloquy – when he creates an entire imaginary world and then destroys it – just to prove to Romeo that dreams and love are worthless, meaningless things. Merc counterpoints Romeo perfectly – he uses language that appeals to Romeo to entice him into the story, but then flips it on its head and makes his point that ‘dreams… are the children of an idle brain’.
Through his next scene with Benvolio when they’re drunkenly calling out at Romeo – Mercutio makes some very lewd and objectifying comments towards Rosaline. This functions in two ways, the first being that even though they are supposedly best friends, Merc and Benvolio don’t even know that Romeo is out of love with Rosaline and in love with Juliet – which could say something about the trust levels between Romeo and Merc (especially after all the crude comments Merc has made in previous scenes). The second way it functions is in commenting on how Mercutio perceives women in contrast to Romeo. Mercutio objectifies Rosaline – talking about various body parts in a menacing way, whereas in the next scene Romeo uses some of the most well known Romantic language to describe Juliet.
The next time we see Mercutio – he’s in a jovial mood, making fun of Tybalt, flirting inappropriately with the Nurse and generally being a fool. But it’s really the scene after this one that most states Mercutio’s purpose (dramatically) in the play. It shows Mercutio and Benvolio hanging out on a hot day – when they come across Tybalt, who’s looking for Romeo. This is where we see Mercutio’s fatal flaw or hubris which ultimately results in his death.
We’ve already established that he switches between hot and cold in an instant – and we see that in this scene, except he doesn’t cool down til the very end… And then heats up again…And then cools down, for good. The sight of Tybalt makes his blood boil and he’s instantly keen to fight him – then Romeo comes in and tries to make peace, which makes Mercutio even more fired up – because Tybalt is insulting Romeo but Romeo isn’t putting up a fight. So Merc fights Tybalt and then gets cut because Romeo is in the way. He proceeds to joke and laugh as he normally does about the cut – until it’s too late and he realises he’s going to die. It’s at this point that he says the most damning words that make this scene the turning point of the play.
‘A plague o‘ both your houses’
So Mercutio’s parting words serve to foreshadow the tragedy that takes place later on in the play – starting first with Tybalt’s death, then Romeo’s banishment – and then the death of the lovers. As soon as Mercutio’s gone – everything takes a turn for the worse. If that isn’t dramatic function and purpose in the plot – i don’t know what is !
Hope y’all are enjoying your break !
Yes! I think Romeo & Juliet’s love is absolutely real!
I know what you’re thinking: “Hang on. Romeo and Juliet meet, fall in love, get married, and die within four days. How can you fall in love in such a short time?”
I think in order to answer this question, we need to have a look at how we define love. This is not an easy assignment. Even when looking at dictionary definitions, love is a hard concept to define succinctly. One definition is “a strong feeling of affection”, another one is “a feeling of warm personal attachment, as for a parent child or friend”. The problem is that there are many different forms of love, and that we all experience these emotions in different ways and with varying intensity.
At the end of the day, it comes back to personal opinion. Shakespeare isn’t here to ask, and even if he were, I’m not sure that he would have the answer. This is the beauty of art. It is about interpretation.
However, when making up your mind, there is really only one place to look for evidence, and that is within the text.
Here are some clues:
Romeo and Juliet confess their love to each other in the famous balcony scene.
When Juliet asks Romeo what satisfaction he can have tonight, he replies:
Th’ exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.
To which Juliet replies:
I gave thee mine before thou didst request it.
So it’s clear that the pair believe that they are in love. And who are we to argue?
I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t Romeo in love with another chick at the beginning of the play?” Fair point. However, since taking on the role of Romeo, I have looked into this, and formed my own theory. I think Romeo’s feelings towards Rosaline, when we first meet him, are ones of lust, not love. I think he is looking for love. He is a passionate teenager who desperately wants to fall in love so that he can escape the violence that plagues Verona. The way that Romeo talks about Rosaline; however, indicates that he is more interested in being physical with her, than he is in love.
When discussing Rosaline with his cousin Benvolio, Benvolio asks:
And she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?
She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste.
Romeo and Benvolio are discussing Rosaline’s sexual experience, while she doesn’t want anything to do with Romeo. The boys are objectifying Rosaline. I don’t think Romeo would speak about Juliet in this way. When talking about Juliet, Romeo uses more respectful and loving phrases, such as:
What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That though her maid art fair more fair than she.
He is likening Juliet to the sun and saying that the moon is jealous of her brightness and beauty. What amazing language! This indicates to me that Romeo is experiencing a strong love that he has never felt before, and has to find new ways of articulating his feelings.
So, after looking at the text, you will be able to make up your own mind as to whether or not Romeo & Juliet’s love is real. I’ve found some examples for my theory. Do some detective work yourselves and see if you can find some more evidence! Post it on our Facebook page. I’d love to hear your thoughts! #behindthebalcony