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WMG / Romeo and Juliet

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The end of the play was an inverted "Death=Sleep" and "Sword In My Pocket" combo metaphor.
Romeo goes to the tomb and gets blitzed drunk on the "poison" (as in "What's your poison?" or "the measure makes the poison"). Juliet's kiss wakes him up, and she sheathes his knife within her... heart. Then they skip town and leave the friar to explain his knowledge of the situation, and Prince Escalus makes his heartfelt speech about the maleficence of feuds either before or after discovering the truth.

The entire "You didn't leave me any poison, perhaps I'll kiss you and see if there's any left on your lips" speech was a parody or subversion of True Love's Kiss.
Were it a genderbent fairy tale, Romeo would have woken up. Since it was Shakespeare, he didn't, and Juliet killed herself.

The Capulets and Montagues are Mafia families.
This would explain why the feuding is so heated, and why the prince (who may or may not be the Godfather in actuality) is the only one to intervene.
  • Isn't this similar to how the Baz Luhrmann film played it? (Other than that the "Prince" is a cop surnamed Prince!)
    • It's probably more accurate to say that Mafia ethics are an extension of Mediterranean views on family honour and violence which would have been mainstream in middle- and upper-class Italian society at the time Romeo and Juliet is set. Good call though.

Benvolio orchestrated everything.
Because he is the next Montague heir in line, he plotted - possibly with Rosaline - to get Romeo to marry someone unsuitable and get disowned, so that he would inherit the Montague fortune. However, after Mercutio - the one person Benvolio truly cares about - is killed, partly because of his plotting, Benvolio decides to get revenge by orchestrating the death of everyone else.

Friar Lawrence orchestrated everything
He didn't send the letter, deliberately driving Romeo and Juliet to suicide, in order to show the families how futile their feud was.

Romeo and Juliet already knew each other.
Rosaline? Invented so that Romeo's friends wouldn't suspect him of loving a Capulet (or being gay). The conversation at the masque? Playful flirtation. Juliet's surprise at learning his identity? Sarcasm, of the "isn't playing with fire FUN?" variety. Of course, this isn't the original intent of the story, but it would be interesting to see their relationship played this way.
  • Rosaline was a Capulet—Lord Capulet's niece, as mentioned in the party guest list. However, it could seem a lot safer for Romeo's friends to think he was in love with part of the Capulet extended family as opposed to Lord and Lady Capulet's only child. I like this theory. It certainly puts Romeo and Juliet in a better light—even if they're still acting like idiots, they at least have built a loving, lasting relationship with each other before deciding to get married/die for their love.
    • Did Romeo ever tell anyone other than Friar Lawrence that he had been in love with Rosaline? The name never came up in his conversation with Benvolio before the party. Romeo did say that he was in love with a woman, but not which woman in particular.
      • Benvolio and Mercutio both mentioned Rosaline by name (Benvolio in Act I, Scene 2: "At this same ancient feast of Capulet's / Sups the fair Rosaline whom thou so lovest", and Mercutio in Act II, Scene 1: "I conjure thee by Rosaline's bright eyes...") Romeo might have named Rosaline between scenes 1 and 2, or Benvolio might have figured out which woman Romeo was referring to some other way, and he or Romeo could have told Mercutio between scenes 2 and 4. (Or Mercutio could have figured it out on his own too.)

Benvolio is dead by the end.
I've always thought it seems a bit weird that he just stops appearing after Mercutio dies. Perhaps they were actually in love and he just nipped off to kill himself right after Mercutio's death. Or maybe after hearing that Romeo had killed himself, he decided that as all his friends were dead, he had nothing left to live for. He's just a sensitive sort of guy, which is why he's opposed to everyone else's constant fighting. It's just no one had noticed he was dead yet by the end of the play, which is why no one talks about it. But that's why he abruptly stops appearing.

The mutual hatred between the Capulets and Montagues stems from them being Assassins and Templars
Which one is which is anyone's guess, though.

Mercutio is in love with Romeo.
He seems to be jealous of Romeo and Juliet's relationship, and he is 'extremely' close to Romeo.
  • There's one hole in your theory, which is that Mercutio never had a clue Romeo and Juliet were even dating. Romeo and Rosalind, Mercutio openly and constantly laughs at.
  • However, Mercutio does get into a fight with Tybalt... right after Romeo openly declares his love for Tybalt. So instead of being jealous of Juliet, perhaps he was jealous of Tybalt.

Benvolio killed Tybalt's father.
In Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt Capulet is introduced as a volatile, violent person who loathes the Montagues even more than his kinsmen do. This suggests that he has a personal motive for hating Montagues; even Boss Capulet himself has to restrain him from murdering Romeo at the party. This motive is personal enough.

This interpretation is good because it gives Tybalt a deeper motive and makes his character more understandable.

  • But if Benvolio was the one who killed Tybalt's father, why does Tybalt completely ignore Benvolio both at the party and later in Act III? Tybalt seems far more interested in going after the higher ranking members of the Montague family, such as Romeo, and attacks Benvolio only when he doesn't have a better target available.
  • Tybalt cares more about killing Romeo than Benvolio. He does claim to hate Benvolio—"As I hate hell, all Montagues and thee"—but that seems like a pretty impersonal hatred. He hates Benvolio simply because he hates all the Montagues, and he hates Romeo still more. I think it's far more likely that one of the other Montagues killed Tybalt's father, and now Tybalt hates the whole lot of them. (Perhaps the death of Tybalt's father started the feud?)
    • Besides, Benvolio is young (he seems to be about Romeo's age), and he's also a peace-loving and gentle guy. I doubt that he's the type who would have killed Tybalt's father—or even have been able to—and if he had, I'm sure Escalus wouldn't have allowed him to simply go on living in Verona.

The play "Romeo and Juliet" is a fanfiction written by Shakespeare.
Mercutio is the main character of another work of fiction, possibly a high school dramedy. He is paired with Juliet in canon. Romeo is his sidekick and is canonically paired with Rosaline. Shakespeare ships Romeo/Juliet, and the play is his Medieval AU fanfic.

This would explain why Rosaline is instantly put on a bus while Romeo and Juliet fall in "true love" instantly. It also explains why the plot seems so rushed and why Romeo and Juliet are "so in love" that they get married within two days of meeting each other. Shakespeare is a rabid shipper and an awful writer.

This would also explain why they're only fourteen (well, Juliet is). Shakespeare probably set the fic in Renaissance Italy so that he could get away with having highschool-aged characters getting married.

Alas, the work this is a fanfic of was lost. Manuscript preservation was not as high a priority back then as it is now.

  • You know, that explains the Queen Mab sequence really well. It smacks of fanfic: Purple Prose, excessive length, deep emotional significance, and no point whatsoever to the actual story.

Romeo and Juliet was a Dark Parody.
First of all, A Midsummer Night's Dream was written before R&J and has as a major theme that young love is foolish. This is also pointed out by several characters in Romeo and Juliet; they tell Romeo that he's being stupid thinking that he is truly in love with a girl he only met a few days before. Mercutio made fun of him for being in love with Rosaline, whom Romeo has never really talked to, right when Romeo decides, "Oh no, I don't love Rosaline anymore. I love Juliet!"

Also, there is the famous line from Julius Caesar (another play that predates Romeo and Juliet) - "The fault... is not in our stars, But in ourselves..." But Romeo blames all his screw-ups on the stars. He kills both Tybalt and Paris, and then whines about how his killing them is the stars' fault.

  • Julius Caesar was written several years after Romeo and Juliet, soon before Hamlet. Also, the story of "Romeo and Juliet" predates Shakespeare.

  • Also, it is very easy (when you do the RESEARCH) to find that "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was NOT written before "Romeo and Juliet" - the dialogue of "Pyramus and Thisbe" and the action of it are Shakespeare's own self-parody. Even direct lines are connected - Juliet's "O happy dagger" turned to Thisbe/Flute's "Come, trusty sword".

Romeo and Juliet died because Mercutio cursed their families.
Up to that point, if Romeo had just left well enough alone, Tybalt would have been the only one in trouble. The second that Mercutio finishes his "plague a' both your houses" rant and gets dragged offstage to die, Romeo begins to muse that he shouldn't have been such a pacifist, and by the time Tybalt returns (very conveniently, one might say) he's ready to run him through—which he instantly regrets doing.

Because of this sudden and somewhat out-of-character piece of violence (isn't Tybalt supposed to be an expert swordfighter? Couldn't he have dealt with Romeo, who never involves himself in the fighting?), Romeo is banished, setting fire to a chain of events that end with the parents discovering Romeo and Juliet lying dead. If killing off the respective only children of the Feuding Families—and killing them with love, the thing Mercutio despises most—wasn't the worst punishment a vengeful spirit could have devised, I don't know what was. (Plus, Tybalt, Mercutio's murderer and related by marriage to the Capulets, gets killed first—and didn't Mercutio say "your houses!" three times?)

Those who believe that Mercutio has a connection to the supernatural ("Queen Mab", anyone?) should find this theory especially attractive.

Lord Capulet's fiancé started the feud by marrying his friend Lord Montague instead.
This explains it all.

Mercutio is in love with Juliet.
People tend to assume that it's Romeo he's in love with, but he appears to be straight. The Arthur Brook poem "Romeus and Juliet", which Shakespeare copied almost detail for detail, doesn't feature Mercutio the way the play does. He appears in only one scene—right before Romeo and Juliet meet at the party, he's apparently trying to woo Juliet, but Romeo comes in and steals her.

In Shakespeare, Mercutio comes in somewhat randomly—we hear nothing about him until he suddenly shows up with the others to go to the party. It could be that he just wants to have a good time and pick up some chicks—but it also could be that he's been watching Juliet from afar for some time. They don't talk about it because it's being kept low-key; Mercutio's embarrassed about being in love, and mocks Romeo about Rosaline to keep up his "I'm too cool for deeper feelings" image. As a relative of the prince, Mercutio would be in good standing to gain Juliet as a wife—her parents are eager enough to get her married to Paris, the prince's other relative.

Now imagine Mercutio's thought process as Romeo waltzes in and steals Juliet—why shouldn't he feel betrayed and angry, especially since Romeo was obsessing over Rosalind mere moments ago?

He plays dumb about it, pretending not to notice or care, in accordance with his Sad Clown nature, joking around with Romeo (who he still really cares about—they've been friends for a long time) and attempting to make him reject love (so he can have Juliet). The hurt and betrayal he feels don't come out until his death (which Romeo pretty much caused), at which point he curses the Montagues and the Capulets—"They have made worm's meat of me."

Also, why is he so eager to attack Tybalt? Because Tybalt is Juliet's cousin, and Mercutio is Hot-Blooded enough to take out his angst on someone marginally involved that he's not particularly attached to.

Tybalt is in love with Juliet.
Used in the French musical, but it's not terribly unlikely. It's possible Tybalt knows about Romeo's relationship with Juliet and wants to get rid of him out of family pride, big brother instinct...or thwarted love.

Cousins married cousins all the time back then, and when you consider how clannish Tybalt is...

Tybalt’s ghost was actually present in Act 4, Scene 3.

Juliet, understandably, is freaking out about everything that could go wrong if she drinks the sleeping draught Friar Lawrence gave her (ironically, she worries about waking too early but not about waking too late). During her monologue, she states: “Methinks I see my cousin’s ghost / Seeking out Romeo, that did spit his body / Upon a rapier’s point. Stay, Tybalt, stay!”

She had not yet drunk from the vial, so she was not hallucinating, and it seems the audience is supposed to chalk it up to the stress. Now, ghosts in Shakespeare’s plays usually tend to show up a) not long, more or less, before death(s) occur and b) seem to have predictive powers regarding death. They also only seem able to speak to certain people and only after they have been dead for a bit. Examples. 

What if Tybalt’s ghost is actually appearing to her and desperately trying to talk her out of her current course of action. However, while able to see him, she is unable to hear him. And, when Tybalt is “seeking out Romeo” it is not in revenge but in an attempt to protect his cousin. With Juliet unconscious and the Friar being the one to give her the vial in the first place, Romeo will be the only one left to fix this mess. Unfortunately, Romeo cannot see him.

Mercutio survived the duel with Tybalt [3.1].

As seen here, based on this theory that Mercutio faked his death:

“. . . Mercutio does not actually die on-stage. He is stabbed by Tybalt, makes a few puns and the odd dick joke (as one would), and then asks Benvolio to help him “into some house”. They go off-stage and Benvolio re-enters a few lines later (suspiciously few, in fact) to report Mercutio’s death. Benvolio himself then promptly disappears from the play at the end of the scene.”

A bleeding Mercutio leaves the scene before the prince arrives (kinsman or not, the prince was particularly final about what would happen if the Montague-Capulet feud was to erupt into violence again). They need plausible deniability, so Benvolio announces Mercutio’s “death” to the crowd that gathered by addressing it to Romeo. Unfortunately, that was when everything went off the rails.

Tybalt was not supposed to come back. Romeo was not supposed to snap and stab Tybalt to death. So, Romeo takes off to avoid the death penalty and Benvolio is the one left to explain things to the prince, and is unable to go “actually Mercutio lived” because Romeo would have been killed for sure. Romeo is then exiled from Verona which he does, immediately after his wedding night with Juliet (side note: they should have both fled then). He never finds out that Mercutio survived because either: they have no idea he fled to Mantua (Friar Lawrence knows but why would they expect the Friar to know), or: they manage to arrive in Mantua only to find out that he has already returned to Verona shortly before (and has promptly killed two people and himself).

Lady Capulet became infertile from the physical trauma of giving birth too young, which is why Juliet has no siblings.
She says that she was a mother before she was even Juliet's age, and when Paris tries to wheedle Lord Capulet into giving him Juliet's hand immediately by saying "younger than she are happy mothers made", Lord Capulet fires back "and sooner marr'd". Lord Capulet also makes a big deal of Juliet being his only child. So maybe the Capulets have a little personal experience with that...which makes it even worse that Lord Capulet eventually gives in to Paris.
  • Lord Capulet also said about Juliet "The earth hath swallow'd all my hopes but she", which suggests that he had other children besides Juliet, whom he had had to bury earlier. Either these other children had been born before Juliet (when Lady Capulet was even younger) or they had been born after (in which case Juliet's birth couldn't have made Lady Capulet infertile). Unless it was a multiple birth...
    • Who said Lady Capulet, as in Juliet's mother, was the first or only Lady Capulet? Lord Capulet certainly isn't an absurdly youthful father, so it's possible he may have gone through several wives. Given the "sooner marr'd," it's also possible his past wives suffered Death by Childbirth and the children from the previous marriages didn't last long themselves, which were the children buried as mentioned above. Juliet and her mother may have been the only ones who survived.

Romeo was a miracle birth to older parents.
To juxtapose with Lady Capulet (the Absurdly Youthful Mother), Lady Montague was a late in life mother. Her and her husband tried for years, unsuccessfully, to conceive which is why Romeo has no siblings. As their only child, she would have kept him from the feud as much as possible, which explains why Lord Capulet had no issues with his character when he crashed the ball. Her untimely, and out of nowhere, death could have been an age related condition exacerbated by stress.

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