SACAD: John Heinrichs Scholarly and Creative Activity Days


Common practice has Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet identified as a tragic love story, which has antecedents tracing back as far as Pyramus and Thisbe by Ovid. Though valid, this interpretation plumbs only a limited portion of the text. It is the position of this paper that, like Shakespeare’s later work Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet was written with a political subtext in mind. Both texts play on the social memory of the War of the Roses, as well as continuing sectarian strife between Protestant and Roman Catholic adherents contemporaneous to the era. However, while Macbeth served to prop up the righteousness of the monarchy then in power, Romeo and Juliet can be seen as its antithesis with its appeal to the masses - and especially to the young - as it presents questions as to the futility of an internecine hatred which appears to only serve the senior generation. The youthful cadres within the play, swords in bucklers, are trained by their elders to take the merest slight as deadly insult as they patrol “…fair Verona…” in a manner that could sadly be all too familiar within far too many more modern communities and cultures. These experiences refresh the moral inherent within Shakespeare’s tale again and again across the generations.



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in-person poster




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