I loved the idea of making a Wordle of the Queen Mab speech from Romeo and Juliet, as I had heard about this as a teaching tool at SAA. However while some of the elements of the cloud didn’t surprise me at all, I was still left with a few puzzles to tease out.

I know the one element of this speech that many people seem to be surprised by (which I was as well) was how large the word o’er appeared on the Wordle, and actually it appears twice. The ways in which the word is used helps to give Queen Mab’s travels amongst humans that giant quality that we would use to describe climbing a mountain. But to me, the use of o’er gives the story one of the many fairy tale qualities that pervade the rest of Mercutio’s the speech.

Many of the words that are the largest evoke this feeling of a fairy tale: night, fairies, dreams and dream are some of the largest words aside from Mab herself. It gives the speech a very ethereal feel, and fits well with the late night setting of that part of the play. However it also shows the boyish foolery of Mercutio and Romeo and their friends as they use this story to make fun of Romeo. But Mercutio’s language and imagination show his (im)maturity and intelligence.

The one word the stuck out to me the most, however, was the word “nose.” Despite many body parts being mentioned within the little tale, “nose” is the only one that warrants being larger. But why the nose? The only think that I could think up was that smells were a central element to humoral theory that pervaded the consciousness of the population of Renaissance England. I wonder of the nose was an easy access point for Queen Mab to have an effect over her subjects? Victims? Humoral theory is one of the elements of Shakespeare that fascinates me the most, and I think this is a worthwhile pursuit in terms of academic analysis of this piece.

I loved this way to analyse one of my favourite speeches in Romeo and Juliet. I have a little funny story to accompany this assignment. The Stratford Festival put on a phenomenal production of Romeo and Juliet in 2013, with Tim Carroll at the helm. When I went to see it was my family (which was my second time seeing the play) I was eagerly anticipating seeing this speech again. Just as Johnathan Goad, the actor playing Mercutio, was about to start…THE POWER WENT OUT! The whole room goes dark and all we hear is Mr. Goad say “Ah!” and next thing we knew the lights were back on again! He continued like nothing happened, and I believe we all applauded when the lights came back on. It made us all laugh and was definitely one of the more memorable performances I’ve attended.

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One thought on “Shakespeare In Community: “The Fairies’ Midwife” – Assignment #2

  1. It would be interesting to hear more about the nose/smell in this speech (and elsewhere in the play). It seems, based on my general recollection, that myths of fairies very often include scent…perhaps because they are so often associated with plants? At any rate, once I was looking for it, nose/smell/scent/odor was all over that speech!

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