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Posts Tagged ‘Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet’

Romeo wears a mask to disguise himself so he may enter his father's enemy's ball. Romeo is played with Leonard Whiting in Franco Zeffirelli's masterpiece film, "Romeo and Juliet," made in 1968 with Olivia Hussey starring as Juliet

Romeo wears a mask to disguise himself so he may enter his father's enemy's ball. Romeo is played by Leonard Whiting in Franco Zeffirelli's masterpiece film, "Romeo and Juliet," made in 1968 with Olivia Hussey starring as Juliet.

Yesterday, I cut my finger with a knife. My daughter asked me, “Is it bad, Mom?” I thought of the street fight scene from “Romeo and Juliet” when Mercutio gets wounded. Romeo says to Mercutio, “Courage, man. The hurt cannot be much.”

Read today’s post to discover Mercutio’s famous response.

“Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, 1595

Our story so far:  Sixteen-year-old Romeo Montague and his friends – in disguise – boldly crash a masquerade party at the home of Romeo’s father’s enemies, the Capulets. There Romeo meets and falls in love with an enchanting young lady. We know that it is Juliet, the 13-year-old daughter of Lord Capulet.

Romeo, watching Juliet dance, asks a servant her name:

“Who is that lady who gives richness to the hand of that knight by simply holding it?”

Unbeknownst to Romeo, Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, hears Romeo’s voice and recognizes it as the son of his sworn enemy, Lord Montague. He swears revenge, although the ruler of the city has forbidden any more bloodshed between the two rival families.

Romeo approaches Juliet and they kiss. Romeo does not know that he was seen by Tybalt. Here is that scene from the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli version of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Several scenes later, the two lovers secretly wed.

Act III, Scene I. A public place…

Meanwhile, Romeo’s two best friends, Benvolio, a good-natured guy, and Mercutio, a sassy, hot-headed fellow, are bored, out walking the streets with nothing to do and missing their lovesick friend, Romeo.

Benvolio urges Mercutio to go inside. He senses that the Capulets also might be out, idly about, and up to no good. Neither Benvolio nor Mercutio know that Tybalt saw Romeo at the Capulet ball and has sworn to kill him but the street fighting between the two families has been a long-standing problem.  Benvolio pleads with Mercutio:

“I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire. The day is hot, the Capulets abroad, and if we meet, we shall not [e]scape a brawl, for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.”

An arrogant Mercutio laughs at Benvolio’s suggestion that he is a quarrelsome fellow and foolishly ignores his friend’s warning that trouble lies ahead….

Enter Tybalt and others.

Ben: By my head, here come the Capulets.

Mer: By my heel, I care not.

Tyb: [To his men] Follow me close, for I will speak to them. [To Mercutio and Benvolio] Gentlemen, good den. A word with one of you.

Mer: And but one word with one of us? Couple it with something; make it a word and a blow [a slash of your sword].

Tyb: You shall find me apt enough to that, sir, and you will give me occasion [good reason].

Mer: Could you not take some occasion without giving? [I’m sure you could find a reason without having it given to you].

Tyb: Mercutio, thou consortest [play around] with Romeo.

Mer: Consort? What, dost thou make us minstrels [silly musicians]? And thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords [angry sounds].  Here’s my fiddlestick [sword]; here’s that shall make you dance. Zounds, consort! [By God’s wounds, Benvolio, do you hear these insults?]

Ben: We talk here in the public haunt of men. Either withdraw unto some private place and reason coldly of your grievances, or else depart. Here all eyes gaze on us.

Mer: Men’s eyes were made to look, and let them gaze. I will not budge for no man’s pleasure, I.

Enter Romeo who has just married Juliet. No one knows yet. He is now married to a Capulet and thus, unknown to Tybalt, his cousin by marriage.

Tyb: Well, peace be with you, sir. Here comes my man [meaning Romeo].

Mer: But I’ll be hanged, sir, if he wear your livery [uniform]. Marry, [Indeed], go before to field [leave town to fight], he’ll be your follower! Your worship in that sense may call him man.

Tyb: Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford no better term than this: thou art a villain. [villain is the nicest name I can call you, I hate you so.]

Rom: [not wanting to fight] Tybalt,the reason that I have to love thee doth much excuse the appertaining rage to such a greeting. Villain am I none. Therefore farewell. I see thou knowst me not. [as your cousin; you haven’t heard the news.]

Tyb: Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries that thou hast done me; therefore turn and draw.

Rom:  I do protest I never injured thee, But love thee better than thou canst devise till thou shalt know the reason of my love; And so, good Capulet, which name I tender as dearly as mine own, be satisfied.

Mercutio is incensed that Romeo returns Tybalt’s insults with loving words, so draws his own sword to defend Romeo.

Mer: O calm, dishonorable, vile submission! Alla stoccata [At the thrust] carries it away. Tybalt, you ratcatcher, will you walk?

Tyb: What wouldst thou have with me?

Mer: Good King of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives….

Tyb: I am for you. [Draws.]

Rom: Gentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up.

Mer: Come, sir, your passado! [a forward thrust of the sword as the foot steps forward]

They fight.

Rom: Draw, Benvolio; beat down their weapons. Gentleman, for shame! Forbear this outrage! Tybalt, Mercutio, the Prince expressly hath forbid this bandying in Verona streets. Hold, Tybalt! Good Mercutio!

Romeo steps between them. Tybalt, under Romeo’s arm, stabs Mercutio. Tybalt runs away.

Mer: I am hurt. A plague o’ both your houses! [Curse the Capulets and Montagues.] I am sped [done for]! Is he gone and hath nothing?

Ben: What, art thou hurt?

Mer: Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch. Marry, ’tis enough. Where is my page? Go, villain, fetch a surgeon.

The page exits.

Rom: Courage, man. The hurt cannot be much.

Mer: No, ’tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but ’tis enough, ’twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I am peppered [mortally wounded], I warrant, for this world. A plague o’ both your houses! …Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm.

Rom: I thought all for the best.

Mer: Help me into some house, Benvolio, or I shall faint. A plague o’ both your houses! They have made worms’ meat of me. I have it, and soundly, too. Your houses!

Exit, supported by Benvolio. Mercutio dies.

 

Here is the fight scene from Zeffirelli’s 1968 film, “Romeo and Juliet.” The clip opens with a wet-haired Mercutio challenging Tybalt to a duel. Tybalt wears a red cap and orange vestments.

Readers: For more “Talk Like Shakespeare Today” posts, click here.

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Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in Zeffirelli's 1968 film, "Romeo and Juliet." The scene is at the Capulets' ball, before Romeo and Juliet know each other's identity.

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in Zeffirelli's 1968 film, "Romeo and Juliet." The scene is at the Capulets' ball, before Romeo and Juliet know each other's identity.

Juliet: O, Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?

is probably the most well-known Shakespeare line of all time – and the most misunderstood. The line is from “Romeo and Juliet,” Act II. Scene II.

To give Juliet’s words some context, let’s start at the beginning. Our play takes place in 16th Century Verona in Northern Italy. It’s evening. Young Juliet Capulet’s parents are giving a fancy dress ball where Juliet meets and kisses the dreamiest guy. But the young man mysteriously slips away from her before she can get his name. Quickly, Juliet pulls her nurse (nanny) aside, points toward the fleeing young man, and asks her nurse:

Juliet: What’s he that follows there, that would not dance?

Nurse: I know not.

Juliet: Go ask his name….

Nurse: His name is Romeo, and a Montague, The only son of your great enemy.

Juliet: My only love, sprung from my only hate!

Juliet despairs that she has fallen in love with a Montague, the son of her father’s sworn enemy. Juliet goes upstairs to her bedroom to undress for bed. Then she walks onto the balcony that overlooks the dark orchard to collect her thoughts.

Olivia Hussey as Juliet in the balcony scene from Zeffirelli's 1968 film, "Romeo and Juliet."

Olivia Hussey as Juliet in the balcony scene from Zeffirelli's 1968 film, "Romeo and Juliet."

Juliet is distraught that an age-old feud between her family (the Capulets) and Romeo’s (the Montagues) should keep her from having a relationship with Romeo. She wants to know: Why – for what purpose – is he Romeo???? Why is he not named Jack Sprat – anything! – but the name of my father’s enemy’s son? She is not asking where Romeo is.

Juliet: O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore [why] art thou Romeo? [Why is your name Romeo, the name of my father’s enemy’s son?]

Deny thy father and refuse thy name!

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to fair Juliet talking to herself up on the balcony, Romeo has leapt over the orchard wall and is hiding amongst the trees, spying on Juliet.

Leonard Whiting in Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet." As Romeo, he is hiding in the Capulet orchard, eavesdropping on Juliet on the balcony.

Leonard Whiting in Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet." As Romeo, he is hiding in the Capulet orchard, eavesdropping on Juliet on the balcony.

Romeo hears what Juliet is saying and whispers to himself:

Romeo: Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?

She does not hear him and continues speaking.

Juliet: ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy.

Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,

Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,

Retain that dear perfection which he owes

Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;

And for that name, which is no part of thee,

Take all myself.

Romeo: (speaking out from the orchard) I take thee at thy word.

Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized;

Henceforth I never will be Romeo.

 

Click below to see the balcony scene from Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet.” It won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3BfBIzz6vQ&feature=related

Readers: For more “Talk Like Shakespeare Today” posts, click here.

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