Levinas Studies

Volume 16, 2022

"Between the Bible and Philosophers"

Sean Lawrence
Pages 111-127

Time and the Lover
Romeo and Juliet

Levinas has little to say about Romeo and Juliet, unlike some other plays by Shakespeare, but it nevertheless reflects his philosophy. In keeping with his phenomenology of eros, the title characters form a relationship which does not extend to the third party, and instead retreat into what Levinas calls the “dual solitude” of lovers. Romeo and Juliet form a closed community which excludes the rest of the fictive world of Verona, its loyalties and its laws. They even withdraw from the temporality of their fictive world, into the atemporality of art and idolatry, frozen in the statues which their grieving parents offer to raise in their memories and in the story of which they are protagonists.