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Pious Princes and Red-Hot Lovers: The Politics of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Jerry Weinberger
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 65, No. 2 (May., 2003), pp. 350-375
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1111/1468-2508.t01-2-00004
Page Count: 26
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Pious Princes and Red-Hot Lovers: The Politics of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
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Abstract

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is obviously a tragedy of impetuous young love. But it is also a play about politics, especially politics as conditioned by Christian morality and religion. The play's action is determined by the conflict between secular and priestly authority, and by the complex interaction among mercy, love, and punishment as practiced by Escalus, Prince of Verona, and Friar Laurence, the Franciscan. In the course of this action, the Veronese regime is transformed, and the common good determined, in ways more compatible with the friar's interests than with those of the Prince. Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's pictures of the unique problems that determined modern, as opposed to ancient, political life.

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