In RomeoandJuliet William
Shakespeare marks the passage of time ‘with great
precision’; why, then, can’t commentators ‘agree such
a seemingly elementary chronological point as the number of days the
plot covers’? 1 P.A.
Daniel reckoned the action concluded on the sixth day; 2 John Munro argued for fewer than six; 3 Caroline Spurgeon 4 and G.B. Harrison 5 counted five; Harley
Knowing William Shakespeare better, we are better equipped to know his plays. Better knowing his plays brings us closer to knowing him. This book suggests that Shakespeare wrote not only for the mass audience, but simultaneously for that stratum of cognoscenti whom Gabriel Harvey dubbed 'the wiser sort.' It identifies many passages in the plays which Shakespeare resolves famous cruces which scholars have never been able to unravel, and casts new light on Shakespeare's mind and method. Shakespeare wrote into Julius Caesar more than one passage intelligible only to that handful of the wiser sort who had read Plutarch and knew their Suetonius. Into Macbeth Shakespeare injected a detail accessible only to the few intrepid souls brave or reckless enough to have cast the horoscope of King James I. We find a poem in Hamlet, where the prince invites his love and bandies matters of cosmology which were burning issues (literally) throughout Shakespeare's lifetime. While Julius Caesar's old Julian calendar prevailed in England its rival, the scientifically correct Gregorian reformed calendar, dominated most of Europe. Shakespeare suffused his plays with references to calendrical anomalies, as seen in Othello. By relating Shakespeare's texts, the Renaissance calendars and the liturgy, the book produces a lexicon apt for parsing the time-riddles in Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare handled religious subjects, examined and interrogated the dogmas of the received religions, and parodied the Crucifixion by exploiting Holinshed's account of the persecution and assassination of York.
RomeoandJuliet has probably
the most immediately recognisable plot in literary history, to such an
extent that its generic influence on cinematic romantic tragedy is
undeniable. The play itself is performed time and again and is
obligatory in schools around the world as a text for study and for
auditions. It has been filmed in relatively straightforward versions at
This entertaining and scholarly book takes as its theme the original argument that Shakespeare’s generic innovations in dramatizing love stories have found their way, through various cultural channels, into the films of Hollywood in the first half of the twentieth century and, more recently, Bollywood. It does not deal primarily with individual cinematic allusions to Shakespeare’s plays, nor ‘the Shakespeare film’ as a distinct, heritage genre, nor with ‘adaptation’ as a straightforward process, but rather the ways in which the film industry is implicitly indebted to the generic shapes of a number of Shakespearean forms based on comedy and romance dealing with love. Particular plays such as The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet all powerfully entered the genres of mainstream movies through their compelling emotional structures and underlying conceptualisations of love. Drawing on dozens of examples from films, both mainstream and less familiar, the book opens up rich, new ways of understanding the pervasive influence of Shakespeare on modern media and culture, and more generally on our conventions of romantic love. It is such connections that make Shakespeare a potent ‘brand’ and international influence in 2016, even 400 years after his death.
control unit, it will come back to him in memory flashes. Teddy, in turn, will incessantly be reawakened from the dead. Peter Abernathy, however, assumes a more complex role in this game of resuscitation. He only finds himself in the purgatory of the cold storage because, in the first episode of the show, ‘The Original’, he had himself raised the spirits from three further plays. Because Abernathy’s act of ventriloquism is neither just commentary nor merely a clever expression of shared cultural knowledge, the spectral afterlife of The Tempest , RomeoandJuliet
Shakespeare, for example in Othello and RomeoandJuliet , it is not clear that abandoning the disguise
necessarily constitutes a happy ending.
In Twelfth Night Viola is initially quite
explicit about the relevance of her disguise to her inner state. It
will be, she says, “the form of my intent” (I.2.55).
By the middle of the play she
The scholarly consensus holds
‘there is no persuasive evidence Shakespeare knew the Italian or
French versions [of RomeoandJuliet] at first hand.’ 1 In this chapter I will
disagree. By patient examination of the original Italian text of Matteo
Bandello I will offer evidence that Shakespeare had read the story of
doomed lovers in the Novelle (1554), and perhaps in Luigi da
, never descends to Richard's level, and from his failure to join the party come both his isolation and, in part, his tragic power.
The relationship of cheer and literary genre in Shakespeare's world is made patent in RomeoandJuliet , a play that toys constantly with the generic boundaries between comedy and tragedy. And, sure enough, we are given two scenes of cheerfulness which showcase the generic tensions in the play: the first comes in Act 2, Scene 3, where the sanguine counselor Friar Laurence makes his first appearance praising the beauty
Shakespeare’s refurbishment of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde
Shakespeare’s Troilus and
Cressida occupies an intermediate position, first, in its
belated appearance in the Folio between Henry VIII and
Coriolanus : between ‘history’ and
‘tragedy’, and then in its title between two
‘tragedies’, RomeoandJuliet and Antony and
Cleopatra. This might suggest a number of generic reasons for
pleasures and anxieties generated by contemplating the
mother’s physical body. This complexity is of particular value in the
development of narratives that depict family disruption and endangerment from
which to work to a comic resolution, or, as is the case with RomeoandJuliet , the final play discussed in this chapter, swerve away from comic
structures to produce a tragic conclusion.
As he describes the tragedy which has befallen his family