A Niggle of Doubt: Courtliness and Chastity in Shakespeare and Castiglione
This chapter discusses the contraction and dislocation of time in the Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare transformed a story going back over a century before his time into one of the worlds most popular and compelling dramas. In fact, though Shakespeare draws on hints in his sources, along with English attitudes about Italy, to create an Italian setting of heightened emotion and restless activity, his Verona is much more an environment of time than of space. Perhaps the Italian setting made Juliet's youthful marriage more credible for Shakespeare's original audiences, this despite the fact that so young a bride would have been unusual in Italy as well as England. Besides making Juliet's age central in a way it is not in his sources, Shakespeare also focused on questions of timing in general, questions that have to do not simply with the order of events but with their pacing and the availability and openness of time itself.