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Shakespeare's Representation of Weather, Climate and EnvironmentThe Early Modern 'Fated Sky'$
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Sophie Chiari

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442527

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442527.001.0001

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‘[T]he fire is grown too hot!’: Romeo and Juliet and the Dog Days

‘[T]he fire is grown too hot!’: Romeo and Juliet and the Dog Days

(p.57) Chapter 2 ‘[T]he fire is grown too hot!’: Romeo and Juliet and the Dog Days
Shakespeare's Representation of Weather, Climate and Environment

Sophie Chiari

Edinburgh University Press

In Romeo and Juliet (1595-96), weather and humoural determinism play a central role with the background references to the dog days that may, up to a certain extent, be held responsible for both plague and misrule so that, beyond bad luck or misfortune, the influence of the stars turns out to be preponderant in the lovers’ fate. In such a context, the play’s heavenly signs take on an importance almost equal to that of the earthly events, to the point that heat may be considered as a major actor in the tragedy. As an anagram of ‘hate’, ‘heat’ overdetermines the climate of the play. Both words foreshadow the flare up of violence in Verona, leading Romeo and Juliet to be trapped in an overall astronomical, humoural, and climatic pattern giving them virtually no chance to escape the stifling air of Verona. Besides, the chapter suggests that light and lightning, omnipresent in the tragedy, also emphasise the violence of passions and reinforce the inevitability of the lovers’ final death march inscribed in the sonnet prologue.

Keywords:   Romeo and Juliet, stars, dog days, heat, earthquake, plague, Sirius

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