Saturday, April 30, 2011

Romeo and Juliet - Stars

Juliet. ...Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow'd night,
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

Stars, of course, are a huge theme in Romeo and Juliet. It's in the context of stars, and the power they wield in the lives of humans, that we are introduced to the couple for the first time by the Chorus:
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life (1.1.6). But I love the quote opening this post, spoken by Juliet, because it doesn't just touch on the lovers' impending mortality - Juliet also uses stars as an image for the wonderfulness of Romeo. The passage is just so, so lovely, and shows us a new way to see these young lovers - as bright and beautiful, burning like stars. It's also so sad, as we know that Romeo will die - but the ugliness and pain of his self-slaughter by poison does not, for me, match Juliet's hopeful image of a translation after death into dazzling stars in the night sky.

(Juliet looking at the night sky -
"Juliet" by Philip H. Calderon)

 Though I, at any rate, often feel very exasperated throughout the play with R & J, who constantly do dumb stuff (ie threaten to/actually commit suicide),

 I wouldn't care at all if I didn't have affection for the "stars" of this play. Juliet's happiness in seeing Romeo as "so fine" causes me to care more for them both, which makes the tragedy that much more sad when, overwhelmed by what they see as the unlucky convergence of the stars in their lives, they choose to release themselves from being under the stars' sway:

Romeo. I still will stay with thee;
And never from this palace of dim night
Depart again: here, here will I remain
With worms that are thy chamber-maids; O, here

Will I set up my everlasting rest,
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
From this world-wearied flesh.


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