chapter  10
18 Pages

“These Times of Woe”: The Contraction and Dislocation of Time in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

ByShakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Bruce W. Young

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare transformed a story going back over a century before his time (with even earlier analogues) into one of the world’s most popular and compelling dramas. He accomplished this transformation largely through the particular ways he modified and added to his source material, raising the practical and emotional stakes by setting the story in a much shorter time frame, making Juliet a good deal younger, and disrupting expectations through changes in the timing of events. Besides contributing to the tragic outcome, these temporal contractions and dislocations transform a relatively typical story of young lovers at odds with their parents’ wishes into a drama fraught with anxiety, desire, and pathos.