SiStan ChapLee

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (10)

Act III
Scene iii

Lines 100-1  And now falls on her bed, and then starts up,
And Tybalt calls . . .
this last detail looks like having entirely invented by the Nurse

Lines 110-3  . . . thy wild acts denote
The unreasonable fury of a beast.
Unseemly woman in a seeming man!
And ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!
It would be weak to interpret this simply as moral imagery. The Renaissance/Baroque love for metamorphoses is operating. Again, see John Milton's Paradise Lost; Satan's words when he enters and merges, both physically and psychologically, with the serpent. See also Dante, Inferno 25.72, 77.

Lines 119-21  Why rail'st thou on thy birth, the heaven, and earth?
Since birth, and heaven, and earth, all three do meet
In thee at once; which thou at once wouldst lose
A more or less direct quotation from Dante, Inferno 3.103-5? Shakespeare anyway, as a late Renaissance author, stresses the subject of Man as a microcosm -- not meaning an elating philosophical concept (that would be the 15th century), but rather an existential paradox. And again, see Paradise Lost, Adam's reflections about his future after committing the original sin.

Lines 159-60  O Lord, I could have stay'd here all the night
To hear good counsel . . .
the Nurse's shallow, fleeting interest in wisdom is the same as a modern TV-addict may express

Line 169  Sojourn in Mantua; I'll find your man
basically the same line of action followed by Fr. Cristoforo in Alessandro Manzoni's classic Italian novel I Promessi Sposi (set in the 17th century) in order to solve the problems of the betrothed couple, Renzo and Lucia; and in both cases, the plan will fail