Love’s Heralds

"Love's heralds should be thoughts, which ten times faster glide than the sun's beams."

Romeo and Juliet, II.5

 

What a wonderful piece of writing is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

 

Now in my 6th production of R&J,  I consider myself more or less qualified to make such a bold and contentious statement, and I submit that it is (arguably) impossible for anyone (myself included) to fully appreciate just what a truly great play it is without having the opportunity to play EVERY speaking role.  (This should probably be said for all of Shakespeare's plays, but I'll stick with the one I'm in right now.)

 

This is because, at the end of the day, and as Shakespeare comes right out and says in the prologue, Romeo and Juliet  is not merely about Romeo and Juliet, but about two households (the Capulets and the Montagues), and the many ways in which their irrational hatred for one another has poisoned the entire community in which they live.

 

The marriage between Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare insists, is not (as is so optimistically hoped by Friar Laurence) enough to turn their "households' rancour to pure love": the parents' enmity is ended only by the fact that their children die for their love.

 

One can argue and wrestle with the plethora of bad choices and irrational acts (committed by nearly everyone in Verona) which occur throughout the course of the play, but Shakespeare tells us from the beginning that this must happen.  We the audience can only hope, and trust (and, in our own lives, ACT to ensure) that the lovers' sacrifice hasn't been in vain: that those who remain alive will work to make their world a better place — that they will, now and tomorrow, choose love. 

 

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