I am informed that I must bring bring this conversation to some sort of conclusion. I tremble at the task. Please excuse any oversight – I am certain to give short shrift to someone's favorite argument or ancillary point.
This has been primarily a Findlay-fest. Gil opened and closed the discussion with a challenge to modern interpretations that would see the play as embarrassingly non-PC. As he has summed his points up nicely below, I will not attempt to boil them down further. Randall questioned the possibility of such an interpretation for modern audiences, while granting that it may have been how at least some contemporaries would have received the play. Randall also contributed a wonderful array of parallels from modern pop culture, while Gil graciously and laboriously responded to my question about how a certain (to me) odd moment of silence on Kate's part has been directed, concluding that none of the many film versions he reviewed were very satisfactory to him on this point.
Randall made interesting comparisons to a very similar anonymous play, and proposed that what we have here is a mock epic (though not the first – that would be the Greek Batrachomyomachia "Battle of the Frogs and Mice," in the West, at least; the opening of the Sanskrit Mahabharata contains what I take to be a mini-mock epic, structurally parallel with the opening of The Iliad.) I'm going to quit there, though this doesn't begin to do justice to the richness of insight and detail contained in these missives.
On to Romeo and Juliet!
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