|Charlotte and Susan Cushman (the Cushman sisters) in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in 1846 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Have you heard this saying: an idle mind is the devil’s playground or workshop? Romeo and Juliet are two perfect showcases.They married young without their parent’s consent and without properly knowing each other and died because they were too stupid to step back and think for half a second.
Let’s face it: they were worth each other, at least that much is true.
Romeo was a young, easily impressionable fool. He began the play lovesick over Rosaline and within an act he was mooning over younger Juliet as if you suddenly pushed a button. His beloved girl wasn’t much better. She glanced at a handsome boy at a party, found out that he is one of her family’s enemies and was suddenly head over heels for him and vowing her love on a balcony at night. Risking a serious pulmonary inflammation (yes, I am sure you remember the balcony scene . Ridiculous.). No sense of responsibility whatsoever, no critical thinking, no ordinary decency, just insta-love.
Then you have a suddden case of a bum rash, tight britches and hot tempers with the whole duel and killing. Outraged Tybalt challenges Romeo, Romeo refuses, Mercutio fights instead and is mortally wounded so Romeo slays Tybalt out of grief, guilt and revenge… Bob’s your uncle, Amanda’s your aunt Sally’s your sister and EVERYONE JUST DEFIED THE PRINCE!!!A very stupid thing to do if you plan a secret marriage AND you want to defy your entire family as well!
Romeo is exiled, but of course first he has to spend the night and consummate his marriage with Juliet…does it really need commenting (of course it does) ? It is not romance, it is rutting of a pair of short-sighted teenagers on bubbling hormones! No adult supervision! No responsibility! Where are the chastity belts when you really need them? Will Shakespeare you should be ashamed of yourself!
Then Capulet goes off the deep end, telling Juliet she WILL marry Paris or else be drowned. Come on… the dude started the play saying she was too young to marry and then, when she seems grief stricken, he forces her to get married as a kind of remedy? Perhaps he had actually glimpsed Romeo leaving her room in the morning… Her mom was no wiser, rejecting her just because Juliet wanted to postpone the date. Small wonder poor girl had no brains – it seems she was doomed from the very inception…Still drowning is NOT NICE even if your victim is your own stupid daughter.
So Juliet goes to the Friar for help and like any good man of the faith, he comes up with some inefficiently grandiose plan that at no step involves being honest and talking with those who care the most. Instead he gives her a “drug” that puts her in a deep coma for 42 hours. I recognize the fact that daddy Capulet probably would have drown her for sure had she come out and told him – “hey daddy, I love you to death but I really can’t marry Paris because… well, you remember that dude, Romeo? The one who got exiled because he’d killed my cousin Tyb? Good riddance by the way, Tybald was never exactly an asset if you ask me so Romeo did us practically a favour…actually you know, I and Romeo kind of…yea…sort of…ummm…anyhoo here’s my wedding ring. Pretty, isn’t it?” But at least she went to an adult this time – this is what children are supposed to do when they are faced with a problem they cannot handle themselves – and somehow the friar manages to be just as childish in his handling of the situation as the kids are. Or maybe even more childish, all things considered. Since when you can solve a problem, any problem, with drugs ? Whenever I think of it the depression makes me melt…
And of course we all know what happened then…a string of bad luck which Shakespeare loved so much. Romeo doesn’t get the message in time (how could he even dream of getting it in time is beyond me), he goes to the crypt with his draught of poison, kills Paris, poisons himself, only to have Juliet wake seconds later to find him dead and kill herself… and THEN the families reconcile. I don’t know about you, but having the secondary characters learn something from the deaths of two completely naïve children is not what I call a satisfying ending. I see no real love in this story nor much sense or any other value apart from sheer shock value. Let’s face it, it’s obvious Will loved making people shout and cry in shock. Then he counted the proceeds and smiled. Probably like that:
|Yes, I DID it again!|
Whan can be said? The Prince’s ending words are the only part of this that rings true: For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo. Hear, hear my Prince. Even a good editor wouldn’t be able to improve much; mind you this horrible, senseless play is read by innocent children and teenagers at school with the full approval of the adults.
Now I ask you, dear Readers: is it ok?
Sherlock, what would you say?