Romeo Gone WrongOn February 8, 2023 by Elyse
It’s that time of year again: cliché greeting cards, overpriced supermarket chocolate and for Second Glance History readers, cringeworthy tales of all the ways love can turn sour. History teaches us that all it takes is a misplaced coffin, one small yawn at your wedding or a passing resemblance to your mother, and you might find yourself broken-hearted and freezing to death in a cave.
The ultimate love story gone wrong is, of course, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In this iconic tale, two star-crossed lovers are kept apart by their feuding families and their inability to communicate. It turns out that 19th-century lovers were no better at the latter than their Renaissance-era counterparts.
One of the most ridiculous misadventures of this season of love for two and pistols for one is reported from Barnett, Ga., that fruitful land of romance and poetry and elopement.
A swain from Washington, Ga., had plotted to bear away in the dead hours of the night from her ancestral home a girl of 17 years. The scene of action was to be modeled after the Romeo and Juliet order of romance.
Their high school English curriculum clearly didn’t include Shakespeare.
The blushing and lovely Capulet was to jump from the balcony, or the veranda, as it is called over in Georgia, into the arms of Romeo, who, pistol in pocket, impersonated love among the roses in the garden, or rather the parterre below. At a rap on the glass the lovely meteor was to shoot through the window and coalesce with the fluttering Lochinvar, who waited on the verge of distraction to catch the falling star.
Aside from the mixed literary metaphors, what could go wrong?
Alas! The course of true love never did run smooth. Lochinvar had two of the three unities—the time and circumstances—by heart, but the “place” was all wrong. He rapped gently, but it was at the wrong window.
Admittedly, that’s a big miscommunication—but at least no one died. Yet.
It was not a girl of 17, but a bread-and-butter miss of 10 years who awoke, and she immediately shriek out, invoking the presence of her “Paw,” as that gentleman is called in Georgia.
He came, he saw, he conquered, but not before Romeo, in his terrible agitation, pulled the trigger of the nuptial pistol and shot himself in the foot, inflicting a “painful but not serious wound.” The wounded youth fell bleeding through the moonlight or starlight, and so ended the first act of the serio-comedy.
It wouldn’t be a love story if someone didn’t get hurt.
He “ran smooth,” it is true; but a man who can measure his sorrows by the foot is not apt to find sweet or any other solace in a strained construction of the philosophy of poetry.– The Alexandria Gazette, February 17, 1886
Could’ve been worse. At least this play doesn’t include any poison, daggers or murdered cousins.
We’re left hanging as to how the second act ends, but given the characters’ inability to even find a kindly friar, I feel certain we can plagiarize from the original:
For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
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Welcome to Second Glance History! This blog seeks to uncover the people and the stories forgotten by history and give them another read through a modern lens. Join me every week as we examine the differences that divide and the common threads that connect the then to the now.
I’m not sure which was more hurl-inducing; the story or the manner in which it was written. 🤮
Definitely the latter. The writer cheated by not using rhyming couplets!
“In other news today, scientists have noted strange seismological activity in Stratford-Upon-Avon England that appears to be centered around the Holy Trinity church. The activity appears to be rotational in nature…”
😂😂😂 I just wonder what took him so long! Romeo + Juliet came out in 1996…