Sunday, May 1, 2011

Promus - 23 Romeo and Juliet - King of Cats; hurt under arm

Part 2 - Parallels between Bacon's Promus and Romeo and Juliet
(with special emphasis on Promus Folio 112)

Part 2Q

R&J  Act 3.1.49-53 & 75-6

(Mercutio and Tybalt shape up for a sword fight. Benvolio cautions):

Ben:  We talk here in the public haunt of men.
         Either withdraw unto some private place,
         Or reason coldly of your grievances,
         Or else depart. Here all eyes gaze on us.

Mer:  Men's eyes were made to look, and let them gaze.
Tyb:  What would'st thou have with me?
Mer:  Good King of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives.

Bacon's Promus entry 489 (Folio 92B):

"A cat may look on a king".

Comment:  This parallel affords an interesting illustration of how Shake-Speare's mind worked - by association of words and ideas. First, he calls Tybalt King of Cats because a character named Tybalt had been called Prince of Cats in an earlier work by Thomas Nashe, Have With You. "King of Cats" then put Shake-Speare in mind of "A cat may look at a king". So he introduced Lines 49-53 about the public's right to gaze. It is unlikely that Line 53 at least would have been in the text otherwise. How often do young men about to brawl in the street say "The public is entitled to watch us"?


R&J  3.1

Shortly after the above, Mercutio and Tybalt fight. Romeo steps between them to stop them fighting. But as he does so, Tybalt thrusts his rapier into Mercutio under Romeo's arm. The stage direction is "Tybalt under Romeo's arm thrusts Mercutio in". Dying Mercutio reproaches Romeo:

"Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm".

Bacon's Promus entry 807 (Folio 100):

"Quae sub axillis fiunt" ["What is done under the armpits"]; we say nowadays, "underhanded"; from Adagia 415]

Comment: In choosing the manner of Mercutio's death, did Shake-Speare make a literal application of the Latin tag?

No comments:

Post a Comment