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Romeo and Juliet:. Sonneteers by any other name…. What is a “sonneteer”?. A sonnet writer A melancholic lover A hopeless romantic A narcissist A copy-cat A performer. What’s a sonnet writer?. An actual historical figure who writes sonnets

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romeo and juliet

Romeo and Juliet:

Sonneteers by any other name…

what is a sonneteer
What is a “sonneteer”?
  • A sonnet writer
  • A melancholic lover
  • A hopeless romantic
  • A narcissist
  • A copy-cat
  • A performer
what s a sonnet writer
What’s a sonnet writer?
  • An actual historical figure who writes sonnets
  • … not the same as the persona cultivated within those sonnets.
  • So,

sonnet writer:sonneteer::Sidney:Astrophil

the diffusive sonneteer
The Diffusive Sonneteer
  • The sonnet (sequence) is a diffusive genre
  • The sonneteer is a diffusive figure!
    • Prefatory material
    • Prose Fiction
    • Drama
  • The “Sonnet Virus”
the sonneteer performed
The Sonneteer Performed
  • “I am melancholy myself, divers times, sir, and then do I no more but take pen and paper, presently, and overflow you half a score, or a dozen of sonnets at a sitting.”

-Matthew, in Ben Jonson’s

Every Man in His Humor (1598)

the sonneteer performed6
The Sonneteer Performed
  • “You, Master Amoretto, that art the chief carpenter of sonnets, a privileged vicar for the lawless marriage of ink and paper, you that are good for nothing but to commend in a set speech, to colour the quantity of your mistress stool, and swear it is most sweet civet [perfume].”

-Ingenioso in a Cambridge University Play,

Return from Parnassus II (c. 1601)

romeo s performance
Romeo’s Performance
  • Now is he for the numbers that Petrarch flowed in: Laura to his lady was but a kitchen-wench; marry, she had a better love to be-rhyme her… (2.4.38-40)
  • Who is “his lady”?
  • Mercutio thinks it’s Rosaline:

I conjure thee by Rosaline's bright eyes,By her high forehead and her scarlet lip,By her fine foot, straight leg and quivering thighAnd the demesnes that there adjacent lie. (2.1.17-20)

  • Recall Romeo’s poetic performance in the first Act over Rosaline (“O brawling love!”)
  • Poetic pose = an imitative act
how does mediated desire turn to tragedy
How does mediated desire turn to tragedy?
  • In other words, what’s the relationship between sonnets and Romeo and Juliet?
  • Where do they appear?
are sonnets a foil to or function of verona s violence
Are Sonnets a foil to or function of Verona’s Violence?
  • Sonnets as guiding form: Chorus
  • Sonnets as spontaneous expression: R&J’s meeting
  • Petrarchan language as spontaneous expression: balcony scene
  • Petrarch as mediator
petrarchan nature of the balcony scene
Petrarchan nature of the balcony scene
  • Romeo asks her “What shall I swear by?” and Juliet responds, “swear by thy gracious self / Which is the god of my idolatry” (2.2.113-114).
  • She changes her mind:Well, do not swear. Although I joy in thee,I have no joy of this contract tonight,It is too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden. (2.2.116-118)
  • But eventually succombs to sonneteering tropes herself…
violence of the petrarchan language
Violence of the Petrarchan Language
  • Romeo: Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye / Than twenty of their swords!(2.2.71-72)
  • Juliet: O, for a falc’ner’s voice, / To lure this tassel-gentle [male falcon] back again! (2.2.158-159)
  • Romeo: I would I were thy bird!

Juliet: Sweet, so would I, / Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing. (2.2.181-183)

violence of mediated desire
Violence of Mediated Desire
  • Externally vs. Internally Mediated Desire
      • We shall speak of external mediation when the distance is sufficient to eliminate any contact between the two spheres of possibilities of which the mediator and the subject occupy the respective centers. We shall speak of internal mediation when this same distance is sufficiently reduced to allow these two spheres to penetrate each other more or less profoundly.
        • Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, 9.
but where is the internal mediation in romeo and juliet
But where is the internal mediation in Romeo and Juliet?
  • Paris… questionable rivalry
  • Verona… overwhelmed with rivalry
  • … and with sonnets.
  • Verona is such a world of sonnets that external mediation becomes internal mediation (the spheres penetrate).
sonnet conversation
Sonnet Conversation

ROMEOIf I profane with my unworthiest hand This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this: My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

JULIET Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, Which mannerly devotion shows in this; For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch, And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.

ROMEO Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

JULIET Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

ROMEO O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do; They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

JULIET Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.

ROMEO Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take.



scattered rhymes
Scattered Rhymes…

Romeo: …

Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purg’d.

Juliet: Then have my lips the sin that they have took.

Romeo: Sin from my lips? O trespass sweetly urg’d!

Give me my sin again.

Juliet: You kiss by th’ book. (I.v.108-110)

scattered flowers
…Scattered Flowers…

Sweet flower, with flowers thy bridal bed I strew—

O woe, thy canopy is dust and stones!—

Which with sweet water nightly I will dew,

Or wanting that, with tears distill’d by moans.

The obsequies that I for thee will keep

Nightly shall be to strew thy grave and weep. (V.iii.12-17)

scattered bodies
… Scattered Bodies

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 shall be pardon'd, and some punished:

For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. (V.iii.309-310)