Monday, April 1, 2013

Lost ROMEO AND JULIET Scene Radically Changes Play

Dateline: April 1, 2013. Printed below is the full text of the newly discovered lost scene from act one of Romeo and Juliet. The scene exists in a quarto version of the play found in February in a British bookseller’s collection. The quarto’s provenance was debated at the Shakespeare Association of America’s just-concluded annual meeting in Toronto, where the consensus of textual scholars was that the work was Shakespeare’s. The finding marks the first “new” (newly discovered) Shakespearean work since that of “Hand D” in the anonymous collaborative 1590s play Sir Thomas More in 1871. The Romeo and Juliet quarto with the additional short sixth scene dates from 1598, and is an interim text between the “bad”quarto version of 1597 and the “Newly corrected, augmented, and amended” version issued by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in 1599; the process of its authentication is described at length in
Medieval and Early-Modern Theatre in England 42.5 (spring, 2013) and Literary Cruxes 35.2 (April, 2013) The scene shows that Shakespeare’s interest in transporting characters from one play to another did not begin with The Merry Wives of Windsor -- a comedy which featured a character (Falstaff) resurrected from the history plays -- but with this early romantic tragedy, which introduces Petruchio, the Veronese wife-tamer of the earlier The Taming of the Shrew, into Romeo’s and Juliet’s orbit. The newfound scene also indicates the influence of parallax in early—modern literary production, as Shakespeare’s use of rhymed couplets in place of blank verse echoes not only the patterns of his first comedies but mimics the dramatic monologue, and thus shows the retrospective influence of Robert Browning. Parallax, or retrospective influence, is also seen in the otherwise puzzling allusions in the “new” scene to the work of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who had also proved themselves the authors of a portion of act 4, scene 6, of King Lear, first heard in their ominous White Album track “Revolution Number Nine.”

The scene: It is set in the street outside the Capulet mansion immediately after the party at which Romeo and Juliet first meet. The lines from the close of the prior scene are immediately followed and justified by the new scene six, which underscores the play’s general nature – remarked in the past by numerous scholars -- of comedy manqué rather than conventional tragedy. What follows are the closing lines of scene five and the “new” sixth scene.

JULIET:   What’s he that now is going out of door?
NURSE:   Marry, that, I think, be young Petruchio.
JULIET:   What’s he that follows here, that would not dance?
NURSE:   I know not.
JULIET:   Go ask his name. – If he be married,
                 My grave is like to be my wedding-bed.
NURSE:   His name is Romeo, and a Montague,
                 The only son of your great enemy.
JULIET:   My only love sprung from my only hate!

(Here begins the lost scene.)  
SCENE 6 .  Enter PETRUCHIO, followed by ROMEO.

ROMEO: Oh, I’ve just seen a face, I can’t forget
                The time or place where we’ve just met, she’s just       
                The girl for me, and I --
PETRUCHIO:                             What, what? Who’s here?
                 What fly is it that buzzeth in my ear?       
                  Ah, Romeo! Now, doff that foolish mask.
                   Here in the dark, I trust it’s fair to ask       
                   If you, my friend, have come to moon about
                  And whine for Rosaline, still chaste, no doubt.
ROMEO: Nay, marry, nay! The sun I’ve seen outshines her.
PETRUCHIO: The son? Whose son?
ROMEO:                                            Alas!
PETRUCHIO:                                              A lass? I’ll find her.
                        And if the lass be rich enough, I’ll wed her.
                        So, where’s her father? With his leave, I’ll bed her.
ROMEO: Nay, nay! She is my love, my dove, my cutie –
PETRUCHIO: Stop there. Bad poetry never wins the booty.
                        Shouldst train thy tongue. Stop wailing like a loon!
                        To win a woman, sing a different tune.
ROMEO:        A woman? Nay, a goddess have I found!
PETRUCHIO: I’ll wager that your “goddess” walks on ground.
                        So – nay, don’t shush me – let me tell you straight
                        Petruchio’s Sure-Fire Way to Charm a Mate.
                        First, talk to her. Don’t only talk about her.
                        And when you do, only seem to outshout her.
                        Allow her answering-time, to stretch her wit.
                        Make sure your moons and her suns hap’ly fit.
                        Make dialogue play: the throwing of a ball,
                        Now back, now forth – Good. Take notes. Get it all.
                        I’m glad you brought a pencil to this party.
                        You’ll find your shared love sturdy, strong, and hearty.
                         You may – once in your nest, birds of a feather –
                        Consider leaving rhyme out altogether.
ROMEO:        Alas—
PETRUCHIO:              Another?
ROMEO:                                       Nay, the same! Her name--
PETRUCHIO: Still rhyming overmuch! Fie, fie.
ROMEO:                                                                I’ll tame
                         That tendency, I swear, but tell thee, yet,
                         The woe: I’m “Montague,” she’s “Capulet.”
PETRUCHIO: Hmm. Well. That gives me pause but for a second.
                        The third and better thought is quickly reckoned.
                         Go to her dad. Nay, hear me! Get his blessing.
                         And, too, a dowry-promise. That’s more pressing.
ROMEO:          Her father hates my father!
PETRUCHIO:                                                But not thee.
                          Indeed, I can affirm -- ‘twixt you and me --
                          Here at this party, he spoke well of you.
                           I overheard him.
ROMEO:                                       Nay.
PETRUCHIO:                                                 I tell you true!
                           He called you “virtuous and well-governed youth.”
ROMEO:           Thou liest.
PETRUCHIO:                     Me? When I speak wholesome truth?
                          I laugh at thee! Dost call me liar, boy?
                          I have a rapier, and it’s not a toy.
ROMEO:           Okay, I take it back.
PETRUCHIO:                                     You wimp!
ROMEO:                                                                 But friend,
                           I cannot think two families’ strife can end
                           Without some –
PETRUCHO:                                    Sacrifice? Don’t be so tragic.
                           Slow! First things first. Harsh frost can melt. It’s magic
                          To see how laughter turns wrath into air.
                           A stubborn man, harsh as a wolf or bear,
                           Can with a kind word be made wondrous tame,
                           And grant permission for a change of name.
                           So – wait! Come back! You mark me not a word.
                           A child, you are, racing to catch a bird,
                           A half-cocked blunderbuss, apt for the spark,
                            A flash of light whose real home is the dark.
                            Perhaps it’s best. Some Source has destined me
                           For comedy, and you for tragedy.
                           The hour is yours, though I’ve played one small part
                            In his capacious theater of the heart.
                                                                                               (Here ends the scene.)


  1. The Beatle quote makes it!

    You might be interested--years ago, the humorist James Beard published "The Book Of Sequels," a book of literary "sequels" and "spin-offs." He "discovered" a lost ending to Romeo and Juliet which revealed that the dagger had been false and the apothecary's poison a mere sleeping potion like Juliet's. So all is well and good, but there's Paris' murder to consider, isn't there? Romeo offers to turn himself in, but after a minute of pondering, the Prince tells his captain of the guard,

    "The Count's been murdered. Take with you some men
    And round up those we usually suspect.
    Do question them awhile on Paris' death,
    And then release them."