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Nineteenth-Century Juliet

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2007

Stanley Wells
Affiliation:
University of Birmingham
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Summary

Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night

That runaways' eyes may wink and Romeo

Leap to these arms untalked of and unseen.

Lovers can see to do their amorous rites

By their own beauties; or, if love be blind,

It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,

Thou sober-suited matron all in black,

And learn me how to lose a winning match

Played for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.

Hood my unmanned blood, bating in my cheeks,

With thy black mantle till strange love grown bold

Think true love acted simple modesty.

Come night, come Romeo; come, thou day in night

...

O, I have bought the mansion of a love

But not possessed it, and though I am sold,

Not yet enjoyed. So tedious is this day

As is the night before some festival

To an impatient child that hath new robes

And may not wear them.

(Romeo 3.2.5-17, 26—31)

In Liverpool University in 1899, Kenneth Muir reports, Dr Friedel, a lecturer in French, was denied an extension to his appointment, much to the dismay of the then Professor of English, Sir Walter Raleigh. The main charge against Friedel was that he had set for translation into French prose Juliet's soliloquy, as she awaited the consummation of her marriage.

In 1817, in contrast, Hazlitt had deliberately cited the soliloquy precisely in the teeth of the ethos of Thomas Bowdler:

We the rather insert the passage here, inasmuch as we have no doubt it has been expunged from the Family Shakespeare. Such critics do not perceive that the feelings of the heart sanctify, without disguising, the impulses of nature. Without refinement themselves, they confound modesty with hypocrisy.

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Chapter
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Shakespeare Survey , pp. 131 - 140
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1996

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