Where’s Romeo? (again) (1.1.186-189)

ROMEO           Farewell, my coz.

BENVOLIO                                          Soft, I will go along;

                        And if you leave me so, you do me wrong.

ROMEO           Tut, I have lost myself, I am not here,

                        This is not Romeo, he’s some other where. (1.1.186-189)


Lovely, loyal Benvolio, the one character in the play who is entirely true to his name. He is still concerned about his friend; he doesn’t want him to be alone – and he also wants the full story. If you leave me so – that is, without being completely honest, as well as, so, in this way, thus, while you’re evidently a bit upset, under all the poetry. Again, the familiar question is posed: where’s Romeo? He’s suggesting that he – his soul? – is some other where, that is, with Rosaline – but what this exchange between the friends is establishing, in delicate, evocatively adolescent terms, is that Romeo isn’t quite sure how to define or inhabit the authentic version of himself, which is glimpsed from time to time: rueful, witty, saturated with poetry, yearning, self-indulgent, mercurial. A teenager, or at least an undergraduate.

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