Who is responsible for the deaths in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? This is what my son Tom was exploring this afternoon as he contemplated an essay question for English.
As he worked away at the computer, he yelled out in frustration, "This Romeo dude makes me so mad. It's all his fault and I don't like him at all!"
Wow. My sports mad boy was actually moved to dislike a literary character and tell me why. There was much mumbled about Romeo's 'impulsive actions which lead to the deaths of many." Go Tom!
Taking the advice of those who know things, I have been reading James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure. In it he discusses that which controls the deepest emotions of a character. He says it is obsession.
"Create a character. Give her an obsession. Watch where she runs."
Romeo ran all over the place trying to find love. One minute he was in love with Rosaline, the next married to Juliet. Today free, tomorrow a fugitive murderer. What a mess young Romeo made in his obsession with Juliet. Of course many will say others must share the blame. And they do.
The apostle Paul shares some similarities with Romeo. As Saul, in his zealous pursuit of Christians he "went from one synagogue to another to have them punished." He writes, "In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them." Acts 26:11.
While Saul's character underwent great transformation, poor Romeo didn't get a chance to grow.
This is what my favorite English teacher called a real tragedy - unfulfilled potential.
Today it was about an impulsive dude named Romeo, and a modern day basketballer's exploration of medieval tragedies.