In England in Shakespeare’s time most people did not have a very good view Italy, it’s people and it’s culture. They thought extremely highly of themselves and were very biased and prejudiced against the country Italy and the future there. Many of the views the English had of the Italians show in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. Many in England saw the people of Italy as monsters who serve vice and sin rather than God and those who traveled from England to Italy would be influenced and fall into it as well, “… But I am afraid, that over many of our travelers into Italy, do not eschew the way to Circe’s court: but go, and ride, and run, and fly thither, they make great haste to come to her: they make great suit to serve her: yea, I could point out some with my finger, that never gone out of England, but only to serve Circe in Italy. Vanity and vice, and license to ill living in England was counted stale and rude unto them.” One of the times that this shows in Romeo and Juliet is in act one scene one with Gregory, Samson, and Abraham in what would be similar to the town square:

Samson: Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it.

Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

Samson: I do bite my thumb, sir.

Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

 

Samson: [Aside to Gregory] Is the law of our side if I say ay?

Gregory: [Aside to Samson] No.

Samson: [To Abraham] No, sir, I do no bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.

Gregory: Do you quarrel, sir?

Abraham: Quarrel, sir? No, sir.

Samson: But if you do, sir, I am for you. I serve as good a man as you. (1.1.33-44)

Roe presents many arguments as to how the Romeo and Juliet is evidence that Shakespeare never actually went to Italy in person and received all of the Information for the tragedy second hand. The first argument he uses is the argument of the Sycamore grove outside of Verona mentioned in the beginning of the play. Roe found a Sycamore grove outside of Verona during his travels in Italy but, “Now the trees are in separated stands, the ancient grove cut and hacked away by boulevards and crossings, by building blocks and all the worthless quirks if urbanization.” (The Shakespeare Guide to Italy, Page 10). Because of all this urbanization was have no proof that these are truly the same sycamores that would have existed in Romeo and Juliet and no proof that they were not just planted after the play was published just make it look like they were the same ones. Another argument Roe uses is the argument of the balcony. The balcony was never actually mentioned in the play by Shakespeare nor in any of his other writings or sonnets. The balcony that has been claimed to be Juliet’s is off of a sitting room not a bedroom and it was added to the building it is currently attached to much later than the time the play was published. In Roe’s words, “Juliet’s balcony, admired by tourists the world over today, was not there originally; not in that spot, anyway.” (The Shakespeare Guide to Italy, page 25). This so called “Juliet’s Balcony” was moved from its original building to its current building in the 1930s as a tourist gathering promotion.

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