• Playing God: The Landscape of Resurrection in Romeo and Juliet

    Sharon Emmerichs (see profile)
    Landscape architecture, Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
    Item Type:
    ecocriticism, resurrection, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare
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    "Playing God" explores Shakespeare's use--or rather, misuse--of specific landscapes from the perspective of the transgression of morality through oppositional representations, actions, and beliefs that result in moral and physical destruction. That is, when his characters attempt to recreate the miracle of reincarnation upon those spaces scripted solely for the dead, they are punished not only for their inability to recognize the culturally acceptable meanings of the landscape but are also mirroring Satan’s sin by taking upon themselves the power of resurrection, which is meant for divine application only. By having his protagonists “playing God,” as it were, Shakespeare adds layers of both tragedy and flaw to their characters. Through his use of interior and exterior spaces, physical objects, and metaphysical understandings of religion and the religious canon, Shakespeare distances the concept of resurrection from the more accepted Christian meanings of redemption and rebirth, and redefines it through the use of what early modern Protestants would term witchcraft and black magic, forms of supernatural power against which the early modern English playgoer was vigorously indoctrinated. Characters such as Friar Lawrence, Romeo, and Juliet, then, are placed in both physical and metaphysical danger as they overreach their strictly human abilities and attempt to access the powers of the divine. It is possible, Shakespeare shows us, that we can misuse landscape in terms of both the dead and those who are seemingly brought back to life.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    7 years ago
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