REVIEW
Laroque, François. "Tradition and Subversion in
Romeo and Juliet."Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: Texts, Contexts, and Interpretation. Ed. Jay L. Halio. Newark: U of Delaware P, 1995. 18-36.

Thesis: "Subversion," in Laroque's world of literary theory, is a word for the questioning or mocking of traditional values, and subversion is a good thing. Laroque finds subversion everywhere in Romeo and Juliet. Mercutio's wit is a subversion of the traditional Petrarchan vision of love; the whole play is a subversion of literary genres because it starts as a comedy and ends as a tragedy; and "Gender is also subverted, as Shakespeare plays at presenting an active, almost masculine Juliet against a weak, effeminate Romeo" (18). According to Laroque, there are many, many more subversions, and -- after digging them all out -- he comes to the following conclusion:

    In the last analysis, their death is the sign of a triumph of sterility over the hope for continuity and regeneration, since it is not the old who die in the play, as tradition and natural laws would have it, but mainly the young (Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Romeo, and Juliet). The golden statues raised by the parents to commemorate the two eponymous heroes in the end are a sad and painful tribute, a mourning monument built to remind future generations of the dangers of civil strife and of the triumph of tradition over individual desire with its subversive potential. But, as the play itself plainly shows, this Pyrrhic victory is just another name for disaster since it is achieved at considerable expense, that of the sacrifice of the young and of the forces of life and renewal.   (33)
So it turns out that the play, too, is on the side of subversion in its struggle against evil tradition.

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   Author: Philip Weller
   Last Modified: 2 April 2002