«by JANE ELIZABETH KINGSLEY-SMITH A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY The ...»
With Juliet in the orchard, Romeo recognised another word as his enemy and declared 'Had I it written, I would tear the word' (2.1.99). In this scene, he returns to the deadly power of his
own name. When the Nurse describes how Juliet weeps and calls on 'Romeo', he responds:
Romeo recognises that in the fight he betrayed the namelessness of his life with Juliet for a return to his identity as heir of the Montagues and therefore Tybalt's mortal foe.
I would suggest that critics are often too easily embarrassed by the tendency of Romeo and Juliet to hyperbole. The repetition of 'banished' is decried as an instance of the protagonists reverting back to an emotional and linguistic immaturity.27 One critic who tries to rescue these passages is Robert O. Evans, who argues that the sentence of banishment would have been Tnuch more serious to people of the Renaissance than it seems to us' though he does not expand on this perception. Later he suggests that Shakespeare made Romeo's reaction to banishment appear reasonable to the audience (an easier job with an Elizabethan audience than with a modern one) by leading them to understand that Romeo and Juliet were bound by grand passion; the friar never quite understood that. 28 For the modern audience also, the repetition of 'banished' can have a powerful and illuminating dramatic effect. It reveals the linguistic tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, their vulnerability to a curse when they had thought to defy language. But these lines are not always heard in contemporary productions for 3.2 and 3.3 are often substantially cut.29 The most notorious example must be Franco Zeffirelli's film (1968) wherein Juliet's 'banished' speech was entirely cut and Romeo spoke only thirteen Shakespearean lines in 3.3. Leonard
Whiting makes as much noise as possible without repeating the word 'banished':
the young lover fills out his performance with sobs (there are as many directions for sobs as for lines of dialogue), grunts, pants, thumpings, grappling and general commotion. 30 27 Ann Pasternak Slater describes Romeo 'wallowing hysterically at news of his banishment' in 'Petrarchanism Come True in Romeo and Juliet', Images of Shakespeare ed. by Werner Habicht, D. J. Palmer and Roger Pringle (London and Toronto: Associated University Presses, 1988), 129-50, 133. 136. James H. Seward remarks that 'the unmanliness of Romeo's behaviour is extremely difficult to harmonize with the view that the
love from which it springs is worthy of our admiration'. Tragic Vision in Romeo and Juliet (Washington:
Consortium Press, 1973), 136.
28 The Osier Cage: Rhetorical Devices in Romeo and Juliet (Lexinglon: University of Kentucky Press, 1966), 54.
29 It is interesting to note that Ql Romeo and Juliet, probably based on a memorial reconstruction, reduces Juliet's banishment speech to 7 lines from a possible 15 and blurs the emphasis on the word's violence but that Romeo's speech remains almost in its entirety, only deprived of 4 out of 50 lines. This perhaps suggests that Shakespeare's banishment speeches would have been heard by the contemporary audience. See The First Quarto Edition of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet ( 1597) ed. by Frank G. Hubbard (Madison: University of Wisconsin.
30 Jill Levenson, Romeo and Juliet (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987). 117.
The 1996 film by Baz Luhrmann similarly cut these speeches. On the stage, the lines have fared rather better. Adrian Noble's 1995 production for the RSC cut only the offending puns, Ay/eye/I and flies/fly (3.2.45-9, 3.3.41)31 and Romeo's reference to the word 'banished' as decapitation with a golden axe (3.3.21-3). It is hardly surprising that a director wishing to streamline the play would sacrifice these speeches, particularly in film. Yet as well as emphasising the linguistic themes of the play, they also offer an important insight into the nature of Romeo and Juliet's relationship with Verona. It is not so much love that Romeo and Juliet cannot bear to lose by exile. Rather, it is themselves as defined by the city. Despite all the lovers have hoped for from love, rebaptism and the creation of a private world, they are defined by their own conventional attitudes and, more importantly, by Verona itself.
Nicholas Brooke has written of Romeo and Juliet, 'much of the play is actually comedy, close in kind to The Two Gentlemen, with which it could almost be a twin birth, the comic and tragic variations on the same theme'.32 The derivation of both plays from the same source, The Tragicall Historye ofRomeus and Juliet, partly explains this twinship. If we compare the different ways in which Shakespeare has made use of this source, to comic and tragic effect, we may be able to explain the very different attitudes expressed by Valentine and Romeo towards banishment. Central to this distinction is Verona.
In The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Shakespeare has been notoriously careless about location.
The First Folio locates the main action of the play in either Verona or Milan, whilst Padua 31 Mahood defends these puns as part of Shakespeare's attempt 'to reveal a profound disturbance of mind by the use of quibbles', though she allows that directors of Romeo and Juliet are probably right to cut them, Shakespeare's Wordplay, 70.
32 Shakespeare's Early Tragedies, 81.
and Mantua are thrown in for added confusion. 33 Editors have found various ways to amend this text and to explain its eccentricities but the play's vagueness about location may have been deliberate. 34 Certainly, this would fit in with its attitude towards travel and adventuring.
At the beginning, Valentine is about to depart for Milan. He speaks scathingly of idle and 'Home-keeping youth' and entreats Proteus to seek 'the wonders of the world abroad' (1.1.2as he does. Similarly, Panthino urges Proteus' father to educate him as other men do by
sending their sons to war, on voyages of discovery or to university. Antonio agrees:
Thus, Proteus too is sent from Verona to try his fortune at the Emperor's court, hi this new world both men fall in love and suffer different kinds of metamorphosis including Valentine's banishment from the court. As the play encourages the expansion of their horizons literally and psychologically, it takes banishment comparatively lightly. Valentine is a traveller at the court of Milan. His parents, friends and his social position are all waiting at Verona to be reclaimed. 35 Rather, Valentine's expressions of despair and self-loss are contingent upon banishment from Sylvia who has displaced Verona as his 'home'. Yet even this banishment is quite painlessly endured until the comic structure brings about the reunion of Valentine with 33 For a detailed consideration of the Folio's inconsistencies as to location see Clifford Leech's introduction to The Two Gentlemen of Verona (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1969), xv-xviii.
34 Leech considers the play as stronger for its roots in the peripatetic romance. He identifies the play with All's Well that Ends Well, Pericles and Cymbeline as a wandering play which changes its location more than once 'not usually for the sake of a special significance in the fresh locality (the forest in The Two Gentlemen of Verona beins a place of convenient meeting rather than the place where magic is done in A Midsummer Night's Dream or the place where the wind blows and people mature in As You Like It, and even the Welsh hills in Cymbeline being only incidentally contrasted with the royal court), but in order that the characters may ultimately find their way to a sorting out of their tangled patterns of life', ibid., Iviii.
35 This is also true ofMucedoms (anon. 1590, rev. 1610). Here the young prince travels disguised as a shepherd to a foreign court to meet his intended bride. His banishment only excludes him from a place to which he is a stranger anyway. He may return to Valencia where his family, friends and his inheritance await. Nor is he separated from Amadine for long. Like Sylvia, she chooses exile in the forest with him.
Sylvia and his return to Milan. It is worth noting that there is no mention of a return to Verona at the end.
The contrast between this and Romeo and Juliet could hardly be more marked. To begin with, the tragedy is almost entirely located in Verona. Only Act 5 scene 1 occurs in Mantua and then it is largely concerned with Romeo's preparations for a return to his native city. Nor is there any suggestion that the young Veronese might leave the city voluntarily. Travel is not associated with pleasure, education or honour as it is in the comedy. When Romeo imagines travelling to 'that vast shore washed with the farthest sea' in pursuit of Juliet (2.1.124-6), he utters a conventional metaphor. His most daring physical transgression at this point has been to climb the orchard walls. Of greater relevance to the play and to their love, is Juliet's image of Romeo as a bird which she allows to hop a little before pulling it back, 'So loving-jealous of his liberty' (222-6). Indeed, Verona is a difficult place to leave. The Friar bearing the letter for Romeo is not merely detained from leaving the city but is locked inside a house suspected of plague (5.2.8-12), a suggestively claustrophobic image. Susan Snyder is one of the few critics to have addressed this issue in her examination of the feud as ideology in the play. She describes how the lovers lack any space of their own, hemmed as they are by 'Veronese social
Nor does a freer space seem to be imaginable for Romeo and Juliet somewhere else. A milieu less insistently enclosing might make visually possible the option of leaving the city together and finding a new life somewhere else. Instead, the play's physical dimensions only confirm that 'there is no world without Verona walls' (3.3.17). Verona, constituted by the feud, asserts itself like any ideology as the only reality there is.36 36 'Ideology and the Feud in Romeo and Juliet', Sh. S. 49 (1996), 87-96, 93.
This ideology explains the violent response of Romeo and Juliet to the former's banishment.
The Friar tries to offer Romeo consolation: 'Hence from Verona art thou banished./ Be patient, for the world is broad and wide' (15-6). Yet Romeo has no experience of and cannot
imagine any other place:
Romeo characterises Juliet and Verona as heaven and his exile from them both is that of a damned soul (29-33). The association of Verona with heaven may have been conventional outside the world of the play. 37 In numerous examples of Elizabethan travel literature, Italy's paradisal qualities are extolled, though often in juxtaposition with its hellish aspects. 38 In his
Crudities, Thomas Coryat writes:
The territory of Lombardy, which I contemplated round about from this Tower, was so pleasant an object to mine eyes, being replenished with such unspeakable variety of all things, both for profite and pleasure, that it seemeth to me to be the very Elysian fields, so much decantated and celebrated by the verses of Poets, or the Tempe or Paradise of the world [...] I said to myselfe that this country was fitter to be an habitation for the immortall Gods then for mortall men. 39 37 Other contemporary Italian stereotypes upon which the play may draw include Petrarchism, swordsmanship, irascibility, private revenge and a knowledge of poison. See for example, 'The Fictional World of Romeo and Juliet: Cultural Connotations of an Italian Setting' by Angela Locatelli in Shakespeare's Italy: Functions of Italian Locations in Renaissance Drama ed. by Michele Marrapodi, A. J. Hoenselaars, Marcello Cappuzzo and L. Falzon Stantucci (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1993), 69-84, and Shakespeare's Italian Settings and Plays by Murray J. Levith (London: Macmillan Press, 1989), 54-60.
38 On this heaven/hell dichotomy see Jonathan Bate, 'The Elizabethans in Italy' in Travel and Drama in Shakespeare's Time ed. by Jean-Pierre Maquerlot and Michele Willems (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 55-74, 61-2.
39 Coryat's Crudities (Glasgow: James Maciehose & Sons, 1905), 2 vols, vol. 1, 245. Ironically, Coryat also extends this Edenic metaphor to Mantua, 264.
Fynes Moryson attributes the Italians" lack of interest in seafaring and discovery to the fact that they 'are so ravished with the beauty of their owne Countrey'.40 This beauty may also distract them from religion. Italy has literally displaced heaven for the Italians in another of
Moryson 7 s accounts:
in these dayes, the Italyans have small confidence in these papall pardons and spirituall promises, and so much love their owne earth, as they will not give the scene and felt pleasures it yealdes them, for the unseene and unfelt ioyes of heaven, having a Common Proverb, [...] here is good bread and good wyne, who knowes if any such be in Paradice, the Fryers prate therof but knowe nothing.41 Although Romeo posits Juliet as Elysium, she cannot displace Verona in his affections, rather the two are inextricably linked. He seems unable to conceive of Juliet outside the city. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, the elopement of Hermia and Lysander from Athens is
conceivable in part because their attitudes towards the city have changed. Hermia explains:
In Brooke's Tragical] Historye elopement is discussed. Juliet pleads to go with Romeus,
threatening to throw herself from the window if he will not agree:
40 The Itinerary of Fynes Moryson (Glasgow: Glasgow University Press, 1908), 4 vols., vol. 4, chp. 5, 82.
4 ' Shakespeare's Europe: Unpublished Chapters of Fynes Moryson's Itinerary (London: Sherratt & Hughes,
1903) ed. Charles Hughes, Bk 5, chp. 1, 401-2. Critics writing on Romeo and Juliet from a Christian perspective have remarked that Romeo idolises Juliet instead of God and thus loses any hope of heaven. See Seward, Tragic Vision in Romeo and Juliet, 137, and Barbara L. Parker, A Precious Seeing: Love and Reason in Shakespeare's Plays (New York and London: New York University Press, 1987), 148.