Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Full Frontal Shakespeare

One day, while reading Romeo and Juliet, one of my students raised her hand and informed me that the vocabulary footnotes in the book defined "bauble" as "penis". The defining line was:

Mercutio: For this driveling love is like a great natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole. (Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. New York: Barrons, 1984).

You can probably imagine what happened at that point ... Every little thing (i.e. the servant named "Peter") became fodder for perversion.

Suffice it to say, I think my students' interest in Willy Shakes has improved a bit. Along with this is my ability to teach the great bard since that occurrence several years ago. Maybe I'm just a dirty soul at heart ;)

I don't remember catching a lot of sexual innuendo in Romeo and Juliet as a student, either in high school, college, or my own reading. I was either stupid, naive, or not paying attention (I vote for door number three, but I someone managed to stick out three years of Honors and one year of Advanced Placement, so I obviously fooled somebody).

What makes Shakespeare so revered, so "where it's at"? I love his stuff, I really do, but who made the judgment call that he is so much more valuable than any other writer?