Are you a Petrarchan lover? Do you pine away, swoon, and melt at the sight of your lady, who can kill you with a look? A Petrarchan lover is melodramatic, self-consciously suffering, and has given himself up to the power of his mistress. At the start of Romeo and Juliet, this is the character type that Shakespeare is making fun of when Romeo is drooping all over the stage for the great love of his life... Rosaline. Rosaline? What about Juliet?
Who is Petrarch? Francisco Petrarch (1304-1374) was a hero to English poets in the period before Shakespeare lived. After leaving his profession as a priest, he was in the church on Good Friday: It was a beautiful spring day, and he was twenty three. In church, he saw a seventeen-year-old girl named Laura. It was love at first sight! Although she was already married to an older man and refused Petrarch because of that, did that stop his love? Absolutely not.
The Petrarchan Lover:
Suffers from unrequited love (friend-zoned!!)—the love is not returned or reciprocated, loves from afar. Often the object of love doesn’t even know someone is pining for her.
Idealizes—falls in love with an ideal, a vision of perfection, rather than a human being with strengths AND weakness. Falls in love with an idea—an idea of a person, the idea of love.
Idolizes—Turns the lover into an idol, an object of worship. Puts the lover on a pedestal (she’s high above/he’s a lowly peon), worships her from afar, compares her to a goddess or something holy.
This is not truly love. This is infatuation.
We went through 6 different "versions" of the prologue (which happened to also be a Shakespearean Sonnet) and practiced making sense of the language. We also paraphrased its meaning.
We read "Dramatic Terms" in our textbook and went over:
We also discussed "star cross'd lovers" and read the "Then and Now" article that compared Romeo & Juliet to Edward & Bella. Interesting debate...