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The Role of the Apothecary
.......Mantua law forbids the sale of lethal poison under penalty of death. Nevertheless, the apothecary agrees to sell Romeo a dram of it. The brief scene in which they conclude the transaction supports an important motif: Money can ruin lives.
.......Lady Capulet introduces this theme when she pressures Juliet to marry Paris for his wealth, saying, “So shall you share all that he doth possess.”
.......Romeo and the apothecary continue the motif when Romeo seeks to purchase the means to kill himself and the apothecary accepts the money to provide this means. Romeo, distraught and desperate, entices the poverty-stricken apothecary with an offer of 40 ducats:
Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness,
And fear'st to die? famine is in thy cheeks,
Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes,
Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back;
The world is not thy friend nor the world's law;
The world affords no law to make thee rich;
Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.
.......The apothecary provides the poison, well knowing he is committing a heinous crime. He attempts to justify his decision, saying, “My poverty, but not my will, consents.” Romeo, well aware of the power of money to work evil, ends the scene, with these words:
There is thy gold, worse poison to men's souls,
Doing more murders in this loathsome world,
Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.
I sell thee poison; thou hast sold me none.
Questions for Discussion
(1) Romeo and Juliet fell in love at first sight. Do you believe in love at first sight?
(2) How would you react if your parents opposed your marriage to someone they did not like?
(3) Why didn't Romeo and Juliet simply run away?
(4) What is the grudge that divides the Capulets and the Montagues?
(5) What is the most important lesson you learned from Romeo and Juliet?
(6) In Act I, Scene V, the partygoers at the Capulet residence engage in a dance called "the measure." It is a slow dance with dignified movements. Is this dance in any way symbolic of what happens in the play? If you were presenting a modern version of Romeo and Juliet, what dance would you choose for the Capulet party? Why did Puritans so vigorously oppose dancing in Shakespeare's time?
Famous Quotations From Romeo and Juliet
.......one fire burns out another's burning,
One pain is lessen'd by another's anguish.
–Speaker: Benvolio, Act I, Scene II, Lines 43-44.
–Meaning: one person's suffering makes another's suffering more bearable.
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
–Speaker: Romeo, Act I, Scene V, Lines 42-44.
–Meaning: Juliet's beauty is like a bright star against a dark sky. Often in the play, Shakespeare uses figures of speech involving light and darkness. In the first line of this quotation is a metaphor and, in the second line, a simile.
But, soft! 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 thou her maid art far more fair than she:
–Speaker: Romeo, Act II, Scene II, Lines 4-8.
–Meaning: Romeo compares Juliet with the dawning sun in a metaphor. So striking is her loveliness that the moon becomes sick with jealousy (another metaphor).
.O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.
–Speaker: Juliet, Act II, Scene II, Lines 37-40.
–Meaning: Juliet, unaware that Romeo is below (in the orchard), addresses him as if he were next to her. She wonders why (wherefore means why) he happens to be who he is–a young man with a name her family despises. She then muses that he should deny who he is. If he won't, she will then deny who she is–that is, she will "no longer be a Capulet." (See Quotation 5 for more about names.)
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
–Speaker: Juliet, Act II, Scene II, Lines 47-48.
–Meaning: What counts, Juliet observes, is what a person is, not who a person is. In modern terms, she is saying it does not matter whether a person is rich or poor, black or white, Catholic or Jew, American or Chinese. What matters is what he thinks and what he feels. A rose would still smell sweet if it were called a turnip or a dandelion.
Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
–Speaker: Juliet, Act II, Scene II, Lines 201-202.
–Meaning: Juliet says goodbye to Romeo using a figure of speech (sweet sorrow) called oxymoron. An oxymoron juxtaposes opposites. Wise fool, little giant, and painful pleasure are other examples of oxymorons.
A plague o' both your houses!
They have made worms' meat of me.
–Speaker: Mercutio, Act III, Scene I, Line 61.
–Meaning: Mortally wounded by Tybalt, Romeo's friend Mercutio curses the Houses of Montague and Capulet. Worms' meat means that Mercutio knows he is about to die and that worms will feed on his flesh after he is buried.
Envy Triggers the Capulet-Montague Feud;
Only an Unspeakable Shock Can End It
Only an Unspeakable Shock Can End It
........Romeo and Juliet opens with a street brawl demonstrating the depth of hatred between the Capulet and Montague families–a hatred so profound that it inflames not only the families’ members and their Verona kinsmen but also the families’ servants and neighbors. The melee raises two important questions:
.......What started the Capulet-Montague feud?
.......Is there a way to end it?
.......Before considering those questions, let us first review what happens when the play begins.
.......In Scene 1, Sampson and Gregory–servants of Juliet’s parents, the Capulets–are walking on a Verona street when Sampson vows not to grovel before anyone associated with the Montagues. “We’ll not carry coals” (Line 1), he says, an expression meaning that he will not defer or kowtow to Montague supporters as if he were a lowly coal carrier currying favor with a client. Instead, he says, he will draw his sword and use it. There is irony in his statement, for he is carrying hot coals of animosity for the Montagues. Sampson also says in a sexual innuendo that he will vent his wrath on Montague women, as well as Montague men:
SAMPSON I will show myself a tyrant: when I
have fought with the men, I will be cruel with the
maids, and cut off their heads.
GREGORY The heads of the maids?
SAMPSON Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads;
take it in what sense thou wilt.
.......In a moment, Sampson and Gregory encounter two Montague servants, Abraham and Balthasar, and pick a fight. The four men draw swords and wield. When Benvolio, Montague’s nephew, comes by and attempts to break up the fight, Tybalt, Lady Capulet’s nephew, is attracted to the fray, believing Benvolio is involved. He draws against Benvolio, and they, too, fight. Citizens with clubs then rush to the scene and join the brawl. After them, the heads of the feuding families, old Montague and Capulet, join the fighting with their wives. Finally, the Prince of Verona intervenes, threatening the citizens with torture unless they disband and Montague and Capulet with death unless they do the same. The brawl ends.
.......Now, then, what caused the Capulet-Montague feud, which the prologue says is of ancient origin? Although Shakespeare does not answer this question in his play, the source on which he based the play–The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet (1562), by Arthur Brooke, does provide an answer: envy. According to Brooke, the ancestors of the Capulets and Montagues were esteemed, well-to-do aristocrats who wished to be the center of attention. Consequently, the Capulets were jealous of the Montagues, and vice versa. And so, Brooke says, a feud was born:
Of grudging envy's root, black hate and rancour grew
As, of a little spark, oft riseth mighty fire.
.......In Shakespeare's play, the warring Montagues and Capulets do not mention the cause of the feud. It may well be that they are unaware of it–or forgot it–for it began so long before their time. One thing is certain, though: both families despise each other. Ancient grudges are like that–in politics and religion, in ethnic and national rivalries, in family relationships. It is all stupid, senseless. And that is a key point that Shakespeare is making in the play.
.......Against this backdrop of chronic rancor and malice, a Capulet and a Montague fall deeply in love. The lovers, Romeo and Juliet, are young, inexperienced; they have not yet learned to hate like adults. The name Montague or Capulet is not in itself enough to provoke them to hatred. As Juliet says,
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.–Act II, Scene II, Lines 47-48.
.......The love Romeo and Juliet share, along with matrimony uniting them, could bring the two families together. Unfortunately, the lovers know, their parents would never permit them to marry. Mr. and Mrs. Capulet and Mr. and Mrs. Montague are too steeped in hatred, and quite comfortable to continue hating, to allow so outrageous an event as the wedding of a Capulet and Montague. Moreover, in their game of one-upmanship with the Montagues–and their attempt to aggrandize their social standing–the Capulets plan to match Juliet with an esteemed young nobleman, Paris, a kinsman of the Prince of Verona himself. So Romeo and Juliet marry in secret. Of course, there is no chance for them in the long run; the prologue says so at the outset. All they have is a moment of happiness.
.......Nevertheless, with his violent opening–and the questions it raises–Shakespeare skillfully draws us into the plot. In the end, it is not the cause of the feud that matters, but how it ends, tragically. The suicides of Romeo and Juliet, it seems, are the only events that can jolt the feuding families to their senses. The feud ends. So do the lives of the young lovers.
Parents Arrange Marriages For Wealth and Social Status
.......Until modern times, it was customary for parents in Europe to arrange marriages for their children or to pressure a daughter to marry an important gentleman seeking her hand.
.......Arranged marriages enabled families to elevate or maintain social status, acquire wealth and property, or gain a political advantage. Love was of little or no concern at the betrothal; there would be time for feelings to develop after the couple recited vows.
.......In Romeo and Juliet, Lady Capulet–excited that Paris, a young man of wealth and status, expresses an interest in Juliet–asks her daughter, “What say you? Can you love the gentleman?” The use of can rather than do encapsulates the mother’s view that love is not an immediate concern. Then she tells Juliet that if she marries Paris, “So shall you share all that he doth possess"
.......“All that he doth possess” is of course money and social standing, benefits that Lady Capulet would share in. But Juliet feels nothing for Paris. As the nurse points out to Romeo, “She, good soul, had as lief see a toad, a very toad, as see him.”
.......Nevertheless, the Capulets arrange for a marriage between Juliet and Paris after the latter visits their home on a Monday. Unaware that Juliet has married Romeo in secret, old Capulet tells his wife to inform Juliet that she must marry Paris three days hence. Such short notice may have been unusual, but early marriage was not. After all, well-to-do teenage girls would not be pursuing careers as lawyers, physicians, writers, painters, musicians, or bookkeepers. They had a common destiny, ordained by custom: to marry into rank, reputation, and riches. When they reached childbearing age, they became marketable commodities. Lady Capulet tells her daughter:
Think of marriage now; younger than you,
Here in Verona, ladies of esteem,
Are made already mothers.
.......Juliet, of course, has not yet turned 14. Thus, when Lady Capulet says “younger than you” have become mothers, she is referring to pubescent girls. Lady Capulet herself, who is not yet 30, was about Juliet’s age when she married. Her husband is older than she–many years older, according to the implication of words spoken by Lady Capulet. When he calls out for a sword in the Act I brawl scene, Lady Capulet sarcastically remarks that he should ask for a crutch, not a sword. Apparently, it was not for youthful good looks that she married Capulet but for social position and money.
Prepared By: Hussin Ghunaim
!!!! Palestinian for EVER !!!!
English Club For Arab Students
English Club For Arab Students
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