If Juliet signifies the bright, rich jewel of love, her recognizably European color is only set off against the black skin of the Ethiop, revealing, perhaps, how even in Shakespeare's time the idealized purity of love could be conceived in a racial dialectic that anticipates the future. Mercutio's death, then, precipitates the tragic action that leads to Romeo and Juliet's suicides. Standing at a mythic mid-point in the play, Shakespeare's Mercutio is friend to the Montagues and kinsman to the Prince and County Paris; he is also invited to the Capulets' masked ball. So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows. I For obvious reasons, I focus on Luhrmann's Mercutio, played by the African-American actor Harold Perrineau and represented in the film as a black, gay man. We've heard that before, haven't we? Alexander and Stanley Wells Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000 , 1-22. Richard Dyer, White London: Routledge, 1997 , 28; the literature outlining the relationship between notions of whiteness and sexuality is, by this point, vast.
This shows that she is breaking the stereotype as shown in the first scene. Indeed, in Verona darkness lies within, and it is necessary to the apprehension of these lovers. Romeo is Impulsive, to the point of beingthoughtless, when he goes and off to kill Juliet's cousin Tybaltthe day of marrying Juliet, it wasn't the brightest move becausenow he is banished from Verona. That he grows to manhood in the play is arguable, 22 but the fact that masculinity in our time is often and homophobically posited around heterosexuality provides a convenient type of cinematic shorthand for both Zeffirelli and Luhrmann, who displace homosexual desire onto Mercutio alone. In other words, Mercutio's sexuality conditions our apprehension of his blackness, and vice versa.
Oh, she shows the torches how to burn bright! On one hand, then, Mercutio's friendship with Romeo seems to suggest that Romeo himself is not racist, a point also seemingly signified when he marries the Latin Juliet. His son was but a ward two years ago. Death is his son-in-law insomuch that Romeo is dead to the city after his banishment. That is, there are no characters whose identities are marked explicitly in the terms of difference by which we in the modern period negotiate race; certainly, no Othello or Aaron marks the seeming racial difference or whiteness of other characters in the play. New York: Lion Books, 1950 , the protagonist is introduced to homosexual love by a Frenchman who spent his youth in the West Indies. He also hasenormous freedoms compared to Juliet, being able to go off on hisown without a nurse, while Juliet being a girl is far morerestricted.
Juliet obviously cares little for societal restrictions. Romeo will be physically dead shortly as well. Both have very similar plot situations: they both have overbearingfathers, commit suicide, and have parents who don't really seem tounderstand them. Factoring racial and sexual difference into Romeo and Juliet, Luhrmann depends, then, on a rather Shakespearean idea to comprehend the tragedy that befalls the play's young lovers. That this point, too, is not unrelated to race and sexuality, to racialized sexuality, in our own culture becomes manifest if we think about Romeo and Juliet as allowing us comfortably to displace our concern with the seemingly more explicit divisions of subjectivity into racial and sexual categories that we find in Antony and Cleopatra or Othello. But the equivocations introduced by the metaphor of the Ethiop reveal how racially problematic it has become for our own age to read Romeo and Juliet's love in distinction to other desires in the play associated with darkness. In this regard, we might re-consider Mercutio's Queen Mab speech as a lyrical interlude made thematically rich by encapsulating many of the play's simultaneous fears and fantasies of violence and desire.
Moreover she is being deceitful and cunning which is in complete contrast to how she was at the start. Technically Juliet stabbed herself, but that never would have happened if not for the sleeping potion. Nighttime represents a time when a person can let go of their inhibitions. But here albeit within the parameters of a male violence that functions as desire throughout the play , the word seems specifically sexual. Macbeth centers around greed and paranoia and ultimately how this led to them going mad. In other words, the relationship gives the appearance that the race problem has been solved, when, in fact, often very little is being done to improve conditions for African-Americans and other minorities. There is, of course, no good reason to think black actors cannot play any role in Shakespeare, even ones that seem specifically to be coded European or white, as when, for instance, a few years back in New York Denzel Washington played the Roman Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
This play was set in a time where people married young because they were not expected to live very long. You are looked for and called for, asked for and sought for in the great chamber. Nevertheless, as Barbara Hodgdon observes, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet's camera shots often triangulate the black, seemingly worldly wise Mercutio between the naive Romeo and his Latin rivals in ways that suggest the film's racial constructions are deliberate. Given that Lady Capulet is a blonde possibly Southern woman, Juliet's racial markings may seem suitably verisimilar: certainly, it is possible to be Latin and have skin as white as Claire Danes', for race is not reliably marked on the body. Question: What is the meaning of this Shakespeare quote: 'O she doth teach the torches to burn bright. Her vestal livery is but sick and green And none but fools do wear it. Prentice Hall Literature, Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes.
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear— Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear. Indeed, Luhrmann's film forces us to recognize that there is a kind of race in or racialist significance to Romeo and Juliet, though perhaps in more interesting ways than Luhrmann imagines, for in Shakespeare's work, distinctions between lightness and darkness play out as tensions of the same, not difference. The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand And, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand. It is a provocation to fight. Quotations from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet directory search Famous Quotations from Romeo and Juliet Romeo and Juliet is packed with unforgettable quotations that have become a part of present-day culture.
For now, I want to suggest how the issue comes into clearer focus when we consider the sexuality of Perrineau's Mercutio. But Romeo refuses to be shot down. The way William Shakespeare's plays were performed is unusual to today's standard but very usual in the 16th century. Away with the join-stools, remove the court-cupboard, look to the plate:—good thou, save me a piece of marchpane; and as thou loves me, let the porter let in Susan Grindstone and Nell. To be sure, there is as little of what we might recognize as race in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as there is of homosexuality. When Juliet finds out that his name is Romeo and a Montague she exhibits decisive behaviors. He utters this mere hours after uttering similar thoughts about Rosaline.
Because, however, the essay primarily refers to modern constructions of race as these are translated back onto Shakespeare's plays, I will avoid clumsy generic attempts such as italics or quotation marks to demarcate a difference and specify only if appropriate. Love is particularly important in this play though as it runs all the way through; this allows many. A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life. Whatever the case, the racial markings of Luhrmann's film call into serious question the place of Romeo and Juliet in a modern multicultural world, for it reminds us, if a bit perversely, that the revered idealization of romantic love at its core may foreshadow some of the racist and homophobic determinants of that world. Women did not have equal rights, fathers had a lot more authority over their children and arranged marriages were still practiced. This is because Juliet is going to die but she is worrying about it. See how she leans her cheek upon her hand! Juliet obviously cares little for societal restrictions.