Charney, Maurice. Shakespeare on Love and Lust.
New York: Columbia U P, 2000.

Thesis: Given the title of Charney's book, you might expect that he would have a great deal to say about Romeo and Juliet, but that's not true, perhaps because Charney doesn't believe that the play is a true tragedy. He sees the lovers as always innocent and true, without any tragic flaw, which means -- for him -- that the sense of tragedy is forced:

Shakespeare tries valiantly to make Romeo and Juliet into a love tragedy by lugging in references to the inauspicious stars, but the lovers end without any clear complicity in their tragedy, "Poor sacrifices" (5.3.304) of the enmity engendered by the family feud. It is at best a scapegoat tragedy, if such a genre is possible.     (5)

Evaluation: It is true that Romeo and Juliet do not have "any clear complicity in their tragedy," but that doesn't mean their story isn't tragic. Charney's notion of tragedy is too narrow.

Bottom Line: Charney should show more respect.

   Author: Philip Weller
   Last Modified: 26 March 2002