Podcast 44: Romeo and Juliet … the Plot

This week’s supersized podcast continues our discussion of Romeo and Juliet, with a synopsis of the play’s plot. We remind our listeners about our upcoming video conference, and we finish up with our recap of this week’s blog entries.

Errata:
20:50 — Text should be “newly wed Romeo arrives” instead of “Romeo arrives”
27:10 — Text should be “Lady Capulet notes” instead of “Juliet notes”
38:15 — Text should be “discords” instead of “discards”
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Act IV, Scene 4 to the Bloody End

how ironic… on a number of different levels…

When we left off yesterday, Juliet had just taken the sleeping death potion from the friar and had collapsed. Act Four, Scene Four of Romeo and Juliet begins with the wedding preparations at “three o’clock” (IV.iv.4) Wednesday morning. Capulet tells the Nurse, “Look to the baked meats, good Angelica; // Spare not for cost” (IV.iv.5-6). And thus we learn the name of the Nurse. Angelica.
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Act III, Scene 5 through Act IV, Scene 3

At the beginning of Act Three, Scene Five of Romeo and Juliet, we find the newlyweds following their first night of marriage, readying for their goodbyes as Romeo heads to Mantua while the friar attempts to come up with a plan to reconcile the families and bring the lovers together again.
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Act III, Scene 1 (second half) through Act III, Scene 4

When we left off yesterday in the midst of Act Three, Scene One of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is a married man, a friend to a murdered man (Mercutio), and one who can see the future: “This day’s black fate on more days doth depend, // This but begins the woe others must end” (III.i.118-119).  Tybalt, the killer of Mercutio (and the cousin to newly married Romeo), re-enters the scene and Romeo vows revenge.
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Act II, Scene 3 through Act III, Scene 1 (first half)

Act Two, Scene Three of Romeo and Juliet begins in the cell of Romeo’s “ghostly sire” (II.ii.189), Friar Laurence. As the sun rises, the friar is out picking plants and herbs. It seems he is more than just a man of the cloth, but an amateur botanist and potions-maker as well. He presents a great soliloquy on the dualities in plants as well as life:

Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs -- grace and rude will

— II.iii.27-28

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Act I, Scene 4 through Act II, Scene 2

Act One, Scene Four of Romeo and Juliet begins with Romeo and Benvolio heading to the Capulet party with some of their friends, including the Prince’s kinsman Mercutio; they all wear masks (which explains why and how they are able to gain entrance so easily). Romeo begins by immediately asking what should they say as an excuse for crashing the party; Benvolio dismisses the question with a simple statement that such apologetic speeches are no longer in fashion, then continues,
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Prologue and Act One, Scenes One through Three: The Beginning

For the first time thus far in the Canon, Romeo and Juliet opens with an honest-to-goodness prologue, a Chorus in fourteen intricately rhymed lines of iambic pentameter.  That’s right, a sonnet.  And while we’ll go further into the use of the sonnet form in the play later in the month, let’s just get to the meat of the meaning: if you thought this was a love story, that’s ok… just be prepared for their “death” (1 Chorus, 8).

you mean they die????

And they just don’t die, they commit suicide (“take their life” [1 Chorus, 6]).  Yes, there is love, but it is a “death-marked love” (1 Chorus, 9); this could mean either that their love was marked for death by the fates, or that their love is marked by death (and not just theirs).
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Podcast 43: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Wrap-Up, Romeo and Juliet Intro

This week’s podcast ends our discussion of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with a few final words and thoughts, and — more importantly — kicks off our month-long discussion of the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.  Plus we’ll do our usual recap of this week’s blog entries.
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May Day

Hooray, hooray, the First of May… oh, wait, THAT play is over.

The joy that the rites of May bring … well, that joy’s days are numbered, too.

The first half of this month’s Romeo and Juliet also brings some joy… right up to when the deaths begin.  There is still hope for joy and happiness in the second half of the play… right up to that fatal fifth act.

For those who want a visual preview, we’ve added a few R&J-centric YouTube Bill/Shakespeare Project playlists :

Just to let you know: this is just about my favorite play of all time (it may not be the best, but I love it…)… so get ready for a good month.

A Midsummer, er, Late April Wrap Up

So the month comes to an end… Time to say goodbye to the fairies, the lovers (and the lunatics and poets).  And it’s a fond farewell.  I’m going to miss this play, especially since I find–at least through the Canon we’ve read thus far in the Project–Midsummer to have leapt to the top of my list of faves, both as a comedy AND overall.  It’s musical, lyrical, comical… it’s got woods and lovers and fairies… it’s got escapes, fools who speak wisdom, and a mixture of social strata.  And it has a man with an ass’s head.

c’mon… does it get any better than that?

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