How Shakespeare’s Own Romantic Life Became An Inspiration For His Romeo And Juliet Play
Romeo and Juliet is a classic known the world over. It has been translated hundreds of times throughout hundreds of years.
The universal themes of love and loss resonate with every human but where did Shakespeare come up with the idea for this play? Because love is such a personal thing one cannot help but look to Shakespeare’s private life for clues. Can looking at Shakespeare’s own romantic life better help us understand the story that has been read millions of times? It is however important to note that we will look at his personal life for the source of inspiration for the play because the story of Romeo and Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet came to him from a long narrative poem by Arthur Brooke. To begin with his wife would be an obvious choice which is exactly why we’re going to do it. William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were married in 1582 when she she was already pregnant with their first child. Katherine Duncan-Jones argues that the main reason for their marriage was not love but the pregnancy. She also believes that that the relationship was a mere ‘dalliance’ that arose from boredom and sexual curiosity. This kind of a union would hardly qualify as the same kind of earth shattering, ground breaking love that Romeo and Juliet experienced. Greenblatt agrees with Duncan-Jones and is even more severe in his position saying that “Shakespeare was an artist trapped in a loveless marriage, miserably yoked to a woman who cannot share his art, from whom he must eventually escape to find love, success, and sexual satisfaction.”
A notable factor in their relationship was that Anne was eight years William’s senior and this was a bit unusual for the time. Park Honan discusses this at great length in his biography, but unlike Duncan-Jones believes that they were “evidently in love”. Regardless of that, age is not included as an important theme in the play and if it is, it is only in the peripheral narrative of youthful folly. William being younger than his wife is coincidental to any thread of teenage lunacy on the part of Romeo and Juliet. In order to become as successful as he did, Shakespeare had to move London which meant leaving Anne and his kids behind in Stratford-upon-Avon. If Duncan-Jones and Greenblatt are to be believed than he would have had no problem leaving her, but unless he was a completely terrible person he would have at least missed his kids, if not Anne. If Honan is to be believed than he would have missed his entire family, but a long distance relationship is barely equivalent to the grief and loss felt by many of the characters WW bevington.
By examining his wife, we are taking his sexuality for granted, but it is worth putting into question. the question of his sexual nature is shrouded in uncertainty. Were they compatible, or did William prefer to live apart from Anne for most of this time? Back when anything counted as a scandal thanks to the religious mores? of the time this defintley would have qualified.
Whether you believe Anne and William were in a loving relationship or not you couldn’t say with much authority that she had any kind of impact on her husband’s choice to write the play or our ability to interpret it. A clearer line can be drawn from his sexuality to the play but it is still far from definitive or conclusive. —.What all of this tells us is that it is all conjecture ans no one can conclusively say if any of these theories had an impact or not. To know for sure would mean resurrecting the man himself.
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