The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet contains some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful poetry, including such well-loved lines as ‘a rose/ By any other word would smell as sweet’ and ‘But, soft, what light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.’ It also contains some of his most raucous bawdy. Seconds before Romeo identifies Juliet with the rising sun, Mercutio makes a baser comparison: ‘ O, that she were / An open arse and thou a pop’rin pear!’ The image depends on the resemblance of the fruit known as a medlar to the female genitals and the Poperinghe species of pear to the male. Marcutio’s ribbing of Romeo also puns on ‘to meddle’ and ‘pop it in’, both meaning to have sex, and on ‘O’ as a sign of the vagina. The juxtaposition of such matter to Romeo’s glorious aria on the transformative effect of love at forst sight is typical of Shakespeare’s unsentimental robustness. Youthful as the lovers are, Juliet especially, this is a very grown-up play, which recognizes that love and sex are inseparable.
In The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates a violent world, in which two young people fall in love. It is not simply that their families disapprove; the Montagues and the Capulets are engaged in a blood feud.