I’m very fortunate to live near Louisville, KY. I love the city, though I’m really a small town girl at heart. Living where I do gives me that daily small town feel, but the city is a mere thirty minutes away. One of the things I love about Louisville is KY Shakespeare. They put on three performances each summer for Shakespeare in Central Park. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. The players really do a fantastic job and I’ve yet to walk away disappointed. Plus it’s completely free. This summer they performed “Two Gentleman of Verona”, “A Winter’s Tale” and “Romeo and Juliet.” I couldn’t make it to “A Winter’s Tale”, but was fortunate to see “Two Gentleman of Verona” earlier this summer. After braving a 45 minute downpour last night, I was able to watch “Romeo and Juliet” and thankful the players waited out the rain and agreed to start an hour late.
I’m a sucker for a good Shakespeare tragedy. “Romeo and Juliet,” though, is my least favorite. I had to read it years ago in high school (doesn’t everyone?) and I’ve read it one other time. I’ve also seen the 1968 movie and also the Baz Luhrmann production a few times. Usually, I find it very unbelievable that these two can meet, marry and kill themselves over love within a matter of a few days. Love is definitely the decisive theme of the play. As I watched the play last night, I found myself feeling a little different about it this time.
Having started writing a novel, I’m constantly looking at various works I read and evaluating them differently. I look at characters in a completely different light. With Romeo and Juliet, I found myself looking at how fate really determined their destinies or at least, the characters allowed them to be controlled. The whole play requires the audience to believe that fate ultimately defines the events of the play. We don’t even learn why the two families are feuding. The audience has to accept this aspect as undisputed. It makes the whole love at first sight a little different if you believe fate didn’t really given them a choice.
Mercutio has always been the main reason I watch the play. I find his character interesting because he not only serves as comic relief in the first half, but his death ultimately leads to the tragic ending of the play. Plus I really love this line from Mercutio, who happens to be one of my favorite Shakespearean characters, because he’s a catalyst for everything in my opinion.
A plague o’ both your houses!
They have made worms’ meat of me: I have it,
And soundly too: your houses!
I love good dialogue and writers who say things creatively. In this instance, instead of they have killed me, Shakespeare writes the above line. Things like this make me abnormally happy when I see them to a point where some find it weird when I’m pointing out reasons I love a book or a song on the radio. I imagine that creative quotes make me feel like a dog does when he has a scratch reflex and thumps his foot. Ahhh.
I like the second half of the play because each situation is important and builds leading to the end result. Shakespeare really expertly crafted this domino effect. Without Mercutio’s death, Romeo would not have killed Tybalt and have been banished. Had Tybalt lived, Juliet’s family may not have rushed her marriage to Paris. Had the priest’s messenger delivered his message, Romeo would not have sought the poison from the apothecary and killed himself which resulted in Juliet stabbing herself. Mercutio also taunts Tybalt and draws his sword first, so one could argue that he is solely responsible for the remaining events of the play.
This is what I walked away with at the end of the two hours. I can’t really scorn the play for unrealistic displays of love and marriage when fate is really the driving force, because fate is a huge part of my novel. My main character is forced to fall in love with two women and is “responsible” for both their deaths. I use the word “responsible” lightly because their deaths were really not in his control, but the result of a plan set in motion by someone quite devious. It was ultimately fate that led him to become what he is and fate that led to the demise of his two lovers. My character also falls in love quickly, albeit a period of a few weeks, not days. Every action the characters take ultimately leads to their fate at the end of the novel. So I can’t help, but notice similarities. It may not be on par with “Macbeth” or “King Lear” or “Titus Andronicus” (the blood!) in my opinion, but I don’t feel the same disdain for it as I may have felt before.
Thanks for reading!
~ Nicole ~
Number of Hazelnut Lattes for this post: 1
Listening to: The Piano Guys