Back to Shakespeare again folks. But not because I have an intense fan girl obsession with our favorite English playwright, nay but because of Halloween.
That’s right, double double toil and trouble, something wicked this way comes! Halloween is nigh and with it brings a legitimate reason for me to be able to put too much effort and excitement into a costume undoubtedly nobody but perhaps an english or film studies student will get.
This year I am going as a star crossed lover – masquerading this October 31st as good old Juliet Capulet ( I’m in the middle of sourcing an apothecary to acquire poison as well as a blood stained dagger so that perhaps more people may know who I am actually meant to be. )
But it got me thinking. Romeo and Juliet is a cultural staple, its plot forms the foundations of most modern day rom-coms; a classic tale of forbidden love which ends tragically . But, if it is such a well recognized play and so engrained in popular culture, why is it that it is so frequently misinterpreted ?
O Romeo, O Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
The scene is set. Juliet sits at her balcony and – as one does – declares her feelings in regards to her undying (and slightly hastily decided) love for Romeo – a 16th century Bridget Jones’ diary.
Now the above quote is often thought to mean ” where are you Romeo?” Now this makes sense grammatically and is in context with the play. Nevertheless the actual meaning of ” Wherefore art thou Romeo” makes even more sense grammatically and is even more in context with the play.
Wherefore art means ” why do you have to be.” So Juliet is not yearning for the longitude and latitude of her lover, she doesn’t want his GPS location, she’s not clingy like that. No she wants more. Our gal Juliet is a philosopher, she wants to know why he had to be born a Montague, born a son of the sworn enemies of her family.
So ladies and gentlemen this time it’s a case of why rather than where for both Romeo and Juliet and myself.
WHY will people not understand who I am dressed up as this Halloween?
Maybe it’ll be because people will expect me to be looking for my Romeo . But we all know now that I won’t be looking for him, but rather I’ll be sitting somewhere, dram of whisky in hand, questioning and pondering his bloodline and heritage.
Wherefore art thou indeed .