Juliet and her Romeo (5.3.305-310)

PRINCE           A glooming peace this morning with it brings,

                        The sun for sorrow will not show his head.

                        Go hence to have more talk of these sad things;

                        Some will be pardoned, and some punishèd:

                        For never was a story of more woe

                        Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

                                                            [Exeunt omnes] (5.3.305-310)

Although morning has broken, there is no sun to be seen. (It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. No sun.) The sun too is in mourning, wrapped in a sombre cloak of clouds. Although there is apparently peace, there will be no celebration. The difficult, heartbroken conversations will continue, until every detail is pieced together, everything possible salvaged. There will be pardon, and punishment. (But there are things that only Romeo and Juliet said and heard and know, that not even we were privy to. They will remain private.)

Unlike the Prologue, this is not a sonnet, and emphatically so; it’s a sestet, the second not-quite-half of a sonnet, concluded with a couplet. We might register the absence, the sense of something missing, of a promised whole that has lost its other half. Versification itself mourns. And now the story has been told, the story which was promised in the Prologue, perhaps even spoken by the Prince himself. To hear it described as a story distances it as something that is told, not seen, especially within the temporal framework the Prince employs here: never was a story…. It’s already receding, into the past tense, into narrative, into art. (Golden statues.) A final couplet, and a familiar one: woe, and Romeo. But – Juliet and her Romeo. Her Romeo. It’s partly about meter, yes, but that final line could as well be this of Juliet and of Romeo. But it’s her Romeo. She claimed him, and remade him – give me my Romeo – and gave him a new name, her Romeo, and husband, and friend, and my lord. And she gave him herself, and a grown-up, tender, playful version of himself – and both of them, just briefly, an us.

This is the last scheduled instalment of a blog that began on 1 January (and has missed only 3 days). I’ll be posting some further reflections over the next days and weeks, both here and on Twitter @starcrossed2018, and would welcome comments.


View 7 comments on “Juliet and her Romeo (5.3.305-310)

  1. Dear Hester,

    Thanks so much for your blog this past year. I have followed it closely after my neighbour Abigail Brundin pointed it out to me.
    Tonight I am off to see Romeo and Juliet at the Barbican. I booked this ages ago, but what better timing than on the very last day of your blog.
    I am not in the literary field at all so feel reluctant on commenting too closely on the content ( especially in the public sphere) but have thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot along the way!

    1. Corinne, it’s so lovely of you to write! Abi mentioned that you were following.. I hope that you enjoy the RSC production – I think it’s excellent… and I am very much in favour of *everyone* talking about Shakespeare and having lots of fiercely held opinions (except about authorship) whenever they feel like it. Best wishes for Christmas and thanks again!

  2. Thank you for posting this. Currently working on this text for literature and your blogs have greatly helped me. Really clear and deep insights and analysis. Thoroughly enjoyed spending a total of 200 hours annotating my book using my content and gaining many insights along the way 🙂

    Great content and skilful analysis

  3. Thank you so much for this, so much enlightening content. I have just come across the resource, at the point where I am starting Romeo and Juliet with my Year 9’s – but I will “bank” it for use with my Sixth Formers as a way to refresh my teaching of both love poetry and tragedy. Thanks again

    1. Thank you for taking the time to get in touch! I’m so pleased you find it useful! (I’m in the last stages of finishing a new intro to the New Cambridge Shakespeare edition of the play; a little bit of this material will appear there, too…)

  4. To me, S-speare is mainly wrestling with hate, blood feuding and vengeance – mainly between guys. His favorite theme, a “revenger” story – again. Repeated tropes are also “Bad Dad” and girl chasing.
    We could speculate that – as often happens – the characters tricked the author; he was very busy with business and cue scripting. Juliet is another luminous female characters and her killing herself, as her dreams end, has certainly captured the popular imagination. I always wonder about what Juliet is really so passionate about. Romeo does kill 2 guys and her fav cousin and get his BFF killed in another gang fight. I how how Romeo and Hamlet are written as (accidental) killers.
    But…does hate or “love” win, in this ending?
    Do we feel the gangland warfare – echoed through history and in our current headlines – does the tribal hatred and killing end in this story?
    A separate matter are the non-stop dirty jokes. This book has helped me closer read – “The Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet: A Frankly Annotated First Folio Edition”

    1. Well, I don’t think it’s gangland, quite, although that’s how it’s often staged now (the fashion since the mid C20), and it’s not tribal – these are two families who are very similar. And yes, there’s certainly a lot of ‘lively’ humour – it’s a play that’s cheerfully and intensely interested in bodies!

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