I received your most welcomed letter today. As always, the timing of the arrival of your letters seems to correlate with periods of personal disillusion in my life, not just happenstance. Today you find me in thought as I question the frivolity of love each time I am charmed by beautiful women.
Claudia, you have been a true and honest friend since first we met. You have given me helpful advice during my times of trouble, but more importantly, you offered a gentle shoulder to lean on every time I wallowed in despondency. Once again, dear friend, I am asking for your counsel.
It seems that I have begun to question my behavior and integrity each time I meet a beautiful woman. I fall madly in love, even if the woman does not feel the same about me. As a result, I sink into a deep depression and remain there until I fall in love anew with the next beautiful woman I meet. As strange as this may seem, I did not realize I was acting this way until I read William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet.
I was stunned by a strange feeling of familiarity that came over me as I read the play. Romeo is introduced in the beginning suffering from a deep bout of depression brought on by a beautiful maiden who rebukes his affections. She doesn’t even care about him. Romeo explains to his cousin Benvolio, “Bid a sick man in sadness make his will--A word ill urged to one that is so ill: In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.” (I, i, 193-195) Benvolio urges Romeo to forget her and offers his help. Romeo will have none of it. He is heartbroken. He vehemently expresses his undying love for this maiden and bids his cousin adieu by proclaiming, “Farewell, thou canst not teach me to forget.” (I, i, 228)
A few days later while attending a party hosted by Capulet, Romeo, still in a state of sadness, sees Juliet for the first time. Juliet, a beautiful teenage maiden, is Capulet’s daughter. Romeo’s depressive state noticeably changes as he raves about Juliet’s beauty. He muses, “Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” (I, v, 51-52) These words hung heavy in my mind as I remembered the many times that I, too, moved easily from one love to another--outer beauty being the only motivation. I felt like a deceiving fool. What must those women have thought of me?
Am I a Romeo-type, Claudia? Had you known that I have acted in such a manner, my dear friend? Is it normal for any man to act in this way--not even considering the inner beauty of a woman?
I cannot bear to think that I am a shameless, shallow man with no regard for a woman’s mind and spirit. But, on the other hand, this can’t be true if I have befriended you. It was your intelligence, wit, and humor that attracted me to you when we first met at Dr. Curet’s party. And through the years, it was your caring, your thoughtfulness, and your loyalty that strengthened our friendship--a true kindred spirit. Could Romeo ever have looked beyond your radiant beauty to meet your soul as I did? I would think not.
It is for this very reason that I believe Romeo’s love for Juliet to have been superficial in the beginning; since vows were taken seriously in those times, he was compelled to see them through till the death. A grown man in love with a teenage girl? Rubbish!
Tell me, Claudia. Was Romeo fickle with his love? Can there ever be a woman-Romeo? Am I a charmer too? I trust you will let me know me in your next letter. Until then, give my regards to your husband Ty and my love to the kids.