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I took a course on Shakespeare in college (not high school, but not Harvard) and I am certain that the professor approached Romeo and Juliet from none of these angles (though he still did not regard it with the starry eyes of so many others). It’s been a while since I read the bard, but I’m definitely looking forward to this series!

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Thanks, Joseph! Really appreciate your interest and support

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May 18, 2023Liked by John McGee, PhD

Played Romeo in the balcony scene for my class and an English class studying the play.

Once over the wall he seems almost surprised, as if moved by something totally unconscious, till seeing Juliet, then really seeing her, discovers the difference between play acting love, and love itself. He is beguiled, entranced, perhaps, as you say, in the throes of Cupid's dart. It is definitely an awakening to something new and unknown by him previously.

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Thanks for the reply, Michael! It's true he appears changed, but I think there are many reasons to suppose he's not. Got a series of essays planned on that topic.

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May 21, 2023Liked by John McGee, PhD

Look forward to reading them

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May 17, 2023Liked by John McGee, PhD

I should think that theater critic was a recognized occupation back in 1597. Strange, then, that nobody thought of the play as a satire at the time. We can imagine how David Mitchell would play it. "It's a f****** satire FFS! That's why we aren't handing out Kleenex at the door!" Nahhh... Shakespeare turns out to be human just like the rest of us, fallible, biased, bad judgment, etcetera...

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Thanks for the engagement! We don’t know how Shakespeare’s contemporaries understood the play—with one exception, the reaction of Robert Burton, who categorized it as a tale of “destructive passion,” as I’ve written about here: https://johnmcgee.substack.com/p/romeo-and-juliet-was-not-read-romantically.

Wasn't familiar with D Mitchell, but was just watching some of his BBC skits - good stuff!

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Apr 3, 2022Liked by John McGee, PhD

I am also intrigued by how/what S-speare changed from the Italian version(s) which are quite beautiful.

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Thanks, Rich. Lots more to come on this topic, one of my favorites

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Apr 3, 2022·edited Apr 3, 2022Liked by John McGee, PhD

Hey, this is very good. Props. I have been close studying R&J for 3-4 yrs adapting the story to one about heroin epidemic along Ohio River. The closer I study it the deeper it gets! Of course, ALL S-speare, Marlowe etc is like that... Few of my takes: Romero is a serial killer; it's mainly a story about guy gang blood lust - reading Renaissance history, guy gang violence was 10x worse IRL; The Mab speech is the emotional center of the play - those tiny little thingz in our brains and heart that cause us to do harm to ourselves and others - whether "love" or blood vengeance...Merc gets it but R- is a dope... To me Juliet, like so many of S-speare's female characters, is luminous....at 13!

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Oct 19, 2021Liked by John McGee, PhD

Romeo and Juliet is complex. I have always cringed when teaching this play to middle school or high school students. There are two things that have always perplexed me. Mercurtio’s relationship with Romeo. It has always felt like a one-sided romance. The other is Friar Laurence. I have always wondered if Shakespeare used Laurence as a condemnation of the Catholic Church.

I could be reading too much into the use of Laurence. I am aware that portions of R&J were borrowed from other sources and that could color the interpretation.

Any insight?

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Thanks, Shirley! Those are great questions, and ones I'm looking forward to addressing in the future - ie. the roles and perspectives of Mercutio and Friar Laurence.

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It's really hard (impossible) to even discuss this play outside of the Hallmark Card/Disney version of "love." Pop culture is always wrong and can't be challenged. I have been surprised by how dense the play is outside of the '68 version,S-speare in Love, etc tropes. This book is my Bible on the play - e.g., it's a non-stop dirty joke. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0059F214E/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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