“Weeds”

I redid the concordance for plants in Romeo and Juliet this morning (here) and it reminded me of a regret I had with the project. In Shakespeare, the word “weeds” was a word for clothing as well as a word for unwanted vegetation; but, generally, I only made mention of it in my lists when Shakespeare was clearly referring to the latter. This is a shame because there are times when the two meanings are intended to play off each other. Further, clothing and weeds share a negative connotation in the symbolism of Shakespeare’s plays, but in slightly different ways: clothing represents the (often false) outward show of things; while weeds are the chokers of life, youth and the beautiful… It would have been interesting to have gotten a sense for the interplay of these two negative symbols.

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3 Responses to ““Weeds””

  1. hollyet Says:

    if i remember correctly, it was ophelia’s heavy skirts and the weeds in the lake that caused her to drown(in hamlet). this would be one example for sure if it is the case..

  2. ferdinando Says:

    Well now! that’s an interesting passage to bring up because it juxtaposes weeds and clothes. (Ophelia makes a coronet of “weeds” outside the pond, e then her skirts “drink” the pond water –it’s the weight of her soggy clothes that pulls her down.) But, unless I’m misreading it, it isn’t an example of what I was precisely meaning here in which the use of “weeds” is intended to imply both definitions of the word — both vegetation and attire.

  3. holly Says:

    aaahhh…interesting. attire. i would not mind wearing a garment of vegetation myself.

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