E 366K Romeo and Juliet Paper

E 366K Romeo and Juliet Paper - Dr. Bruster E 366K 19...

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Dr. Bruster E 366K 19 September 2006 The Dichotomies of Mercutio’s “Queen Mab” Oration True, I talk of dreams, Which are the children of an idle brain, Begot of nothing but vain fantasy, Which is as thin of substance as the air, And more inconstant than the wind, who woos Even now the frozen bosom of the north, And being angered, puffs away from thence, Turning his side to the dew-dropping south. (1.4.96-103) This excerpt, taken from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet , exemplifies Mercutio’s cynical character and succinctly depicts his distorted vision of love and dreams. This conceit contemptuously describes the subject of dreams, like the subject of love, as imaginary, wildly unpredictable, and barren of meaning. Mercutio dismisses dreams as “vain fantasy” alluding to their narcissistic connotations (1.4.98). This shorter passage follows Mercutio’s bawdier, more verbose “Queen Mab” oration and provides insight into the speech’s enigmatic function in the play as a whole. Establishing a dichotomy between Mercutio’s antagonistic nature and Romeo’s idealistic notions of romantic love, the “Queen Mab” speech contrasts Petrarchan infatuation with cruder imagery, provides an alternative interpretation of the role of fate as the fulfillment of 1
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human desires rather than “Some consequence yet hanging in the stars,” and serves as a prologue foreshadowing the impending tragedy of the play (1.4.107). Before any deeper meaning can be derived from the “Queen Mab” oration, the reader must examine its context in the scene and the dialogue preceding the speech to determine how Mercutio’s cynical perception of dreams and love differs from Romeo’s transcendental whim. Mercutio grows increasingly more impatient while listening to Romeo’s miserable excuses why he cannot at least attempt to enjoy himself by dancing at Capulet’s feast. His rebuffs start off tame as he mockingly implores Romeo to “borrow
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ENG 366K taught by Professor Bruster during the Fall '06 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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E 366K Romeo and Juliet Paper - Dr. Bruster E 366K 19...

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