Sunday, January 13, 2013

fear and loving in Verona

In high school AP psychology we covered a chapter that made comparisons about the ways different cultures express emotions.  While smiling indicated happiness across the globe, anger was shown differently.  Some people show anger with narrowed eyes while others show it with widened eyes.  What was most poignant about the lesson was not what I recognized, but what I didn't.  While I could match most facial expressions with their respective emotions, there were a few that stumped me.  My teacher told the class that the majority of children and teenagers are unable to recognize the look of fear  on others.  During the ensuing discussion regarding risky behavior in youths I realized that my classmates were able to recognize the expression of fear in the textbook while I still was not.  I was upset at the time because at the age of 15 I considered myself to be very mature, of course.

In our English class we were doing our mandatory reading of the classics: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales followed by Shakespeare's greatest hits.  While we loathed the tales (our senses of irony must not have been fully developed) we were all on board for Romeo and Juliet.  Our English teacher had chosen that particular play because it was going to be shown at the Shakespeare festival that year, though by the end of the reading I think she was second guessing herself.  Imagine a woman of a certain age (which made her a fossil in our eyes) trying to impress upon a group of teenagers how silly and immature our beloved tragic characters were.  No one wanted to hear her.  As we waxed poetic about the balcony scene and the declarations of undying love, she tried to counter by pointing how how foolish and overly dramatic the characters were being.  Since we were the same age as the two characters that she was savaging, we did not take well to her critiques.  I wonder if she took any comfort in the realization that the centuries old author's story of two teenagers in luuuuuuv still held strong resonance with the teenagers in her English class, who totally understood what it's like when adults just don't understand.

Upon reading Romeo and Juliet again after almost two decades, the story isn't quite so romantic but still strikes a chord in that teenage heart I have buried under the layers of years.  As my English teacher was trying to point out, the story is about two melodramatic teenagers who meet, fall in love/lust, and die in the span of about a week.  She might as well bang her head into a wall though because despite the facts, I still love the balcony scene and all of those highly emotional declarations of love and hatred.  As a teenager, emotions seem to be magnified to an nth degree with the exception of fear, which could have been useful a few times for those two.  Shakespeare sure knew how to tell a story.

In other news, Graeme Murphy's Romeo and Juliet is being shown on the Australia Network.  Kevin Jackson's backside is as lovely as Leonard Whiting's was in the film version.  Even that fossilized English teacher agreed that Romeo had a great butt.

No comments: