Saturday, December 15, 2007

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is another Shakespeare play that has been made into a myriad of movies; however, this one is a tragedy unlike A Midsummer Night's Dream. The play is set in Verona with the noble families of Capulet and Montague feuding with each other. Prince Escalus, who is tired of the constant violence, declares death awaits those who further disturbs the peace. Romeo, Montague's son, is at first distraught by Rosaline's rejection of his love; however, when he attend a Capulet party to clear his mind, he sees Juliet and instantly falls in love with her. When Romeo speaks to Juliet, he sees that she returns his love, and they kiss before they even know who the other is. After they each find out that the other is his family's enemy, both are distressed but still decides to marry. Friar Lawrence agrees to marry them in secret and they do; however, Romeo soon kills Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, and is banished to Mantua. Because of the change of circumstances, Juliet has to marry Paris, a kinsman to the Prince, in three days. Juliet runs to the Friar to get out of the marriage, and he tells her to drink a potion that will make her appear dead so that once she is buried, he and Romeo will come and take her away. Juliet does what she is supposed to do, but the news never reaches Romeo. All he hears is that Juliet is dead. He rushes to Verona and once he sees Juliet's dead body, he kills himself with poison. Soon, Juliet wakes up and sees the dead Romeo, so she stabs herself to death with his dagger. The two noble families finally stop feuding when they see their children's dead bodies.
When Romeo first sees Juliet, he immediately falls in love with her and forgets completely about Rosaline. The strong love parallels Catullus's intense love for Lesbia. Catullus describes in carmen 51 the sensations he feels just by looking at Lesbia: "lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus flamma demanat, sonitu suopte tintinant aures, gemina teguntur lumina nocte" (But the tongue is paralyzed, a fine fire spreads down through my limbs, the ears ring with their very own sound, my eyes veiled in a double darkness) (lines 9-12) In carmen 86, he talks about how Lesbia is so much better than Quintia because she has "venustas". This does show that their love may not be any deeper than what meets the eye. Similarly, Romeo and Juliet falls in love with each other after a first glance because of how each other looks, not because they know each other. In carmen 5, Catullus asks Leabia to give him thousands and thousands of kisses to show how much he wants her. He also says, "Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis!" (Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and let us judge all the rumors of the old men to be worth just one penny!) (lines 1-3) He shows that even if the love between Lesbia and him is not acceptable to society, he does not care because he wants to be with her. Romeo and Juliet does exactly what Catullus is doing. After they find out that they had fallen in love with their family's enemy, they still decides to secretly get married because they love each other too much. Juliet does not even care when she finds out that Romeo had killed her kinsman, Tybalt. She stays true to Romeo and also finds a way out of marrying Paris.
Despite the obvious passion and love Romeo and Juliet have for each other, their love does not last long; The play ends with the death of both of them. Both Catullus and Lesbia does not die, but their love does fall apart when they broke up. Juliet, however, does stay true to Romeo and she did anything she could to make herself Romeo's. If Romeo had not been so rash and killed himself, then the two could have happily lived together. This could have been Shakespeare's way of saying that love of the eyes is not real. The reason Catullus and Lesbia broke up could have been because that Lesbia was not loyal to Catullus. He shows his distrust of Lesbia in carmen 70 when he says, "sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua." (but women often lie, what a woman says to a desirous lover, this he ought to write in the wind and rapid water) (lines 3-4) Because of the betrayal of Lesbia, Catullus and Lesbia's relationship falls apart as Catullus attacks Lesbia verbally in his poems. In carmen 36, he calls her a "pessima puella". He also attacks her in carmen 8 and 60 as he shows how furious he is. Romeo and Juliet loved each other till the end, so they never said horrible things to each other and never needed to try to reconcile like what Catullus was doing in carmen 11.
The main reason that this play ends as a tragedy is because of miscommunication between the lovers. Romeo did not know what really happened and rushed to his death. Catullus and Lesbia's relationship could have also ended because they could not communicate with each other to solve their problems. Whatever the cause, both the play and Catullus's relationship ends unhappily. Despite some differences between the course of events, the two love stories are similar in the overall view of intense feelings and love for each other to the termination of the relationship.