Friday, May 26, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #9: First Love

Whatever became of Rosaline, Romeo’s first love? That’s right: Romeo’s first love. Do you remember her at all? When Romeo says in Act I “fairer than my love... the all-seeing sun ne’er saw her match since first the world begun,” he’s not talking about Juliet! He hasn’t even set eyes on her yet. No, in the opening of Romeo & Juliet, Romeo is in violently, sufferingly, sighingly in love with... Rosaline. Do you remember that bit? He crashes the Capulet ball not for Juliet but for Rosaline and there he sets eyes on Juliet and like mercury his affections shift, just as his kinsman Benvolio, knowing Romeo’s tempestuous nature, had guessed they would.

That’s not love. It’s adolesence. Romeo was a BOY. He fell into and out of love at the drop of a hat. This greatest and most celebrated love of Western literature wasn’t even love, but hormonal overexcitement. Does that make the suicides less tragic, or more? Perhaps less tragic for Romeo, who you could argue deserved it (my Shakespeare professor once called him a “homicidal maniac”), and more tragic for poor Juliet for whom this act of passion and defiance was likely the one moment of her tightly bound existence when she felt truly alive, and who could have had no real idea how fickle her young husband was.

And what of fair Rosaline? I’m guessing that she wore a mourning veil to the double funeral and blessed her lucky stars she never gave that crazy Montague kid the time of day.

Read more Sunday Scribblings.

31 comments:

Bohemian Girl said...

I never knew of Rosaline! This opens my eyes to a whole new perspective on this beloved story.

Wonderful, wonderful post.

Hormonal excitement is sometimes more fun than love. *wink, wink*

papyrus said...

Interesting question. Maybe I'd have had a go at this one if I'd not already finished my piece. It intrigues me. Of course, Rosaline wasn't interested in Romeo, as you do indeed point out.

Kristy said...

If Romeo's hormonal reaction, adolescent folly makes his death less tragic, why not, then, the same for Juliet? Is her love for Romeo more genuine? more real? Or is it not, too, just an adolescent folly? No answers here from me; no judgments...just reactionary thoughts.

Deb R said...

And there is why I've always disliked the story of Romeo and Juliet. The main reaction it evokes in me is to roll my eyes and mutter "stupid damn teeanagers." I find it disturbing that it is seen as such a symbol of big-R romance and grand passion. Puh-leeeeeze. Undying love? No, people, NO...horny teenagers!

You'll have to excuse me though, because I'm a big grump about all of Shakespeare's tragedies. I love the comedies, HATE the tragedies. Don't EVEN get me started on my opinion of "Othello!!" :-D

Deb R said...

PS..in amidst all my bitching about the Bard, I should've mentioned I thought you wrote a very good post, Laini!!

AnnieElf said...

Great post Laini and so original, so unexpected. And yes, I remember Rosalind. And No, I never asked myself that question. The "hormonal overexcitement" of R & J justs carried me right away. LOL

DuhhhBlond said...

pretty cool stuff..

and your Grow Wings page really inspires me :)

deirdre said...

Puts a whole new spin on "young love" doesn't it. I never realized this part of the story and it's a shame. I probably would have been a little smarter with my own first love, fickle boy that he was.

paris parfait said...

Love this original slant on the so-called greatest love story. Brilliant!

megg said...

Yes! I KNOW! I had to first study and then teach this play and I felt badly pointing this out to my starry-eyed girls. I don't think that this is a play about love AT ALL. I never have. I think Shakespeare was too clever for that. I think this was a cautionary play about getting carried away in your perception of love. Your prof. was right - Romeo was a big dumb maniac. They were both hormonal and young and foolish - and Shakespeare knew it! Knowing now what I didn't know when I was young and foolish, I'm glad to have been Rosaline in a few relationships - definitely! GREAT post, Laini!!

la vie en rose said...

ha! this is great lanie! and reminded me of shakespear in love...do you remember the character of rosaline in the movie. will walked in on her sleeping with someone else...

JourneyThroughLIfe said...

Fascinating insight into an age old tale! Not ever having really studied Romeo and Juliet I have never given it much thought. I find it eye-opening to look at in that perspective - adolescent hormones.

JTL
xxx

Alexandra S said...

(Look who's writing you from HOME! yes, its true! I just figured the whole thing out after 2 hours on the phone with Apple. ) I think this post is so interesting. Personally, I think this makes Romeo look like a loon and the rest of us very, very silly for elevating this to the heights of true love.

Marilyn said...

I've blocked out Rosaline...since my whole 'picture' of Romeo and Juliet is based on Franco Zeffrelli's 1968 film. Yes, Romeo WAS a boy...a gorgeous, young boy named Leonard Whiting...not that he made a huge impression on my 13-year-old self as I sat enraptured in the BALCONY of the Eureka Theatre or anything... Thanks for conjuring up a good memory. ;)

chest of drawers said...

Wow! I had no idea! Romeo - hmmm, what a heartbreaker!

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

I am a romantic at heart.
Romeo loved. Flicked or depthful I cannot say...love however shallow sets a heart on fire, and the blaze goes where it may.

Maggie said...

I remember hearing all about Romeo and Juliet and, at 11, buying a copy of the play to read about what was creating all this hype from my other books. I was shocked that they were 13--"Mom, you can't be in love at 13, everyone knows that!" Thanks for putting a voice to my major problem with that play! xoxo

Mardougrrl said...

Rosaline was just Romeo's training wheels, until he discovered his soul mate. ;) Loved this!

GoGo said...

Perfect! That's all I'm going to say.

Amber said...

LMAO! How true! Poor girls, both of them. Romeo probably had undiagosed borderline disorder! Ha!

:)

tinker said...

You are so perceptive - and clever!
Loved your last line.

Living Part Deux said...

Kind of makes you feel like you are being assaulted by the hot bright light of day after smooth intoxication of the night.

mikim said...

Wow! I'm off to search my bookshelf, so I can read the play again.

liz elayne said...

i am cracking up at this idea that she was so glad to have not gotten involved with that crazy romeo. indeed.
love this laini - just love it!

Kim G. said...

Oh Laini! I had to smile at this post - I wrote a paper for one of my college Shakespeare classes about this very question. What would have happened if Romeo had seen Rosalind at the party before Juliette? How would the story had been different? A blessed wedding instead of a cursed ending for young lovers?

BTW - Was it S. Greenblatt who called Romeo the homicidal maniac? :)

Joy Eliz said...

Wow...where was I?
Thanks for bringing this up...
fantastic piece!

Left-handed Trees... said...

I wrote a short story once with a character named Rosaline--she dodges a "Romeo" herself...as for the tragic couple, all I can say is don't all adolescents believe in love this way? Maybe Romeo would have grown up into a well-adjusted, egalitarian, rational man...um, maybe not--but, I know Juliet would have been much better off if only she'd packed away her bitter "puppy love" and moved on.

M said...

This made me laugh- too funny! I never thought of it that way. Great post!!

boliyou said...

Great take on the assignment. Poor, forgotten, and ultimately lucky Rosaline!

Colorsonmymind said...

So true! :)

Verity said...

I do remember Rosaline, and I always identified with her a lot more than I ever did with Juliet! Having said that, I was a bit of a "Romeo" myself in my teens, falling in and out of love at the drop of the hat. I wasn't as bad as my best friend who was often in love with someone different by the end of one day. But I guess it's all part of the madness of adolescent hormones...