i was just thinking about r&j because someone (i think phoenixgryffin?) made a post or reblogged a post w/ tags mentioning how infuriating it is to constantly have to defend r&j as a love story.
and this is only tangentially related, sorry. but like, personally, for me, r&j isn’t particularly compelling, though it’s definitely a romance and it’s definitely an accurate portrayal of a romance between two very very young people who have a lot of outside stress and opposition. it’s a beautiful play, even if our leads are young and often a little silly, and perhaps because of that, because there’s so much wasted potential. but for me, its utility comes from the ability to use the language, thematic elements, symbols, plot, etc. of this, the Ur Tragic Romance, to analyze the relationships of other couples in Shakespeare’s plays.
mostly I end up doing this because, you know, unless two characters hold up a sign saying “we are really fucking gay and into each other” no one will buy that there’s an actual relationship there, so taking a hetero love story and showing here, this and this is here, and its paralleled there, and this is the same author, can be really useful. especially since r&j was written pretty early in shakespeare’s career, which gives the idea that the echoing of themes or scenes or lines throughout other plays that originate in r&j is an intentional move more credence.
When Horatio says “Here’s yet some liquor left” in 5.2, that’s such a direct parallel to Juliet’s “What’s here? a cup, closed in my true love’s hand/ Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end: /O churl! drunk all, and left no friendly drop/To help me after?” Like, there is NO WAY to get around how clear and obvious a parallel there is.
And when Cassius kills himself after believing that Brutus has been defeated in battle, when really he ends up winning that fight, that’s too similar to Romeo killing himself after he sees Juliet “dead” to ignore. Yes yes, you could argue blah blah military shit, but also no, Cassius and Brutus echo clearly the chain of events in R&J 5.3.
Then there’s the symbolism of hands and the joining of hands as indicative of love and commitment, a symbol that doesn’t originate w/ Shakes (“hand in marriage,” etc. ) but which he uses a LOT with Rom Ants. We see it (first? I think? in his plays? THIS IS PROBABLY WRONG…..) with R&J with the whole “palm to palm is holy palmers kiss” thing, and we also see it with The Heteros when in The Tempest you have "Here’s my hand." // "And mine, with my heart in’t;" which is to say this furthers my Gay Agenda with "Give me your hand"//"And my heart too."
ANYWAY I could probably go on with stuff and parallels and being Gay Trash but. That’s how I Use R&J, which is probably not the best way to use it. Like a romance decoder ring.