Writing and Ruminating

Thoughts on writing, reading, and poetry. With the occasional diversion, bien sûr.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Romeo and Juliet, pt. 3

Two final things about Romeo & Juliet.

First, a pet peeve.

When Juliet first speaks on the balcony, she says "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art though Romeo?" In looking up the earlier stories about the balcony, I found this abomination among the headlines: "Oh Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Thy Marriage License?".

But Kelly, you may ask, why do you find that to be an abomination? See, it's like this: "wherefore" means "WHY". It has nothing to do with location. So that headline reads as "Oh Romeo, Romeo, Why are your marriage license?" To which I respond, "What the hell does that even mean?"

So, to restate it: when Juliet says "wherefore art thou Romeo", she's asking "why do you have to be a Montague", not "where are you".

Second, a conversation to relate.

A few days back, when I was first typing yesterday's post, I called my parents in Arizona to ask them if they could recall what year it was when they saw the Zefirrelli Romeo and Juliet at the drive-in. They never called me back.

Tonight, I called to follow up on it. Dad answered the phone.

"We never saw that movie," he said. "I'm sorry, but I didn't call you back since we didn't see it."

After a bit of back and forth on that and other subjects, he put my mother on the phone.

"What's all this about Romeo and Juliet?" she asked.

"I blogged about it, and I wasn't sure whether we saw it at the drive-in when in 1968, when I was four, or whether it was a year or two later, since it was at the drive-in."

"We didn't see it at the drive-in," said she. "Daddy and I saw it at the Bryn Mawr theater."

"But I distinctly recall seeing it (or parts of it anyway) from the back of a car at the drive-in."

After a few more minutes of back and forth about this (as my memories were exceedingly visual and featuring Olivia Hussey, etc., I reject my mother's assertion that my memories were concocted from reading the play; particularly since I never read the full play until May of 2009, in preparation for these posts), we moved on to more conversation about the play.

"I am of the opinion," I said, "that Romeo and Juliet isn't really a love story; it's a tragedy."

You should know that my mother and I are mirror images when it comes to percentages of logic v. emotional thought.

"Of course it's a love story! It's the greatest love story ever told!" she said. Loudly. And with feeling. (See Jama, someone else in your camp!)

I didn't argue with her. I just asked her why that was so. And here is (roughly) what she said:

It's a great love story because "they fought everything. They went against it all. They loved so much that they followed each other to death."

"Doesn't that make it a tragedy?" I asked.

"No," said she.

"You don't think it's a tragedy that they die at the end?"

"No. It's okay that they die. They love each other enough to die for it. That makes it a love story."

I've probably given you quite a bit of insight into my relationship with my mother here. But I felt duty-bound to report her side of the conversation. It is exceedingly foreign to me, but I am well aware that she is not alone in her position.

Wherefore else would folks be paying to get married on Juliet's balcony?

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