In Act II, Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare writes:
“What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose,
by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Juliet is alone on the balcony, after meeting Romeo and falling in love with him without realizing that he is a member of the Montague family, the age-old enemy of her family, the Capulets. She questions the meaning of names and if this would even change the substance of an object/ person it is suppose to define, if it were to be called a different name. As a teenager in school, I read Romeo and Juliet. One would think that Romeo and Juliet is simply a tragic love story. However, when you really read it, as with many of Shakespeare’s works, apply it to things and events in the modern day, you will see what deep meaning as well as critique of society’s norms, Shakespeare invokes through his words.
I often ponder on the above quote when dealing with cars. I have male children, who somehow or another without impulses from myself or my husband, at some point in their childhood began admiring cars for their speed and shiny, exterior forms. Sometimes when I am on the road walking or driving with my young men, they mention their admiration for a car by describing what the maximum speed, the shape, the color, the price of a car and that the person driving must have wealth. I am often simply unimpressed and I express this to them. I look at cars for their function, that this vehicle will bring me from point A to B safely without utilizing too much fossil fuel, if any at all for that matter, and is comfortable as well as capable enough to carry people and objects. Basically, for me a car should be practical, safe, reliable and making as little pollution as possible. This is however not the case when one looks on the road or in a parking lot. Many cars are bought for purposes other than for transporting people and objects, such as to display wealth and status, or even to impress/ convince others that the driver of the car is more virile by the way his car looks or sounds. Talk about society making life complicated, by attaching all sorts of value to something as clear and simple as a manner of transportation. People actually spend lots of their resources, which they sometimes do not even have, to buy cars that would show off a trait that they might not even possess. Or even for something that I find extremely sad - to be respected, accepted and loved by people. Are we so superficial a society that we have to drive a certain kind of vehicle in order to be respected, accepted and loved?
The shiny vehicle is just a shell, as are clothes, cosmetics, names, etc. I was brought up to look past the surface, to find what substance exists on the inside. If the deep core is virtuous, then it would manifest and shape the being/ object as a whole. If the core was empty or even corrupted, then it would at some point reveal itself externally, and all the shiny adornments and make-up would not be able to hide this. Time often reveals the true essence of things, whether we like it or not. A car that is moving and transporting its passengers to the place they need to get to, even if it’s not shiny or costs 10-years salary of a normal person, is far more valuable than a car that is shiny and flashy but is sitting in a garage, as it doesn’t run or it is deemed too valuable to be used for regular transportation.
Like the words and ideas of Shakespeare, in this case in the voice of Juliet, which has prevailed through time being read, quoted and performed time and time again. Maybe this story is so beloved and has touched our hearts so deeply over hundreds of years, crossing cultural barriers, because we know its truth within ourselves; a name and its value is what we have assigned to it. Maybe we can simply just accept things and people for their true nature, without putting any fluff, make-up, or monetary value on their exterior.
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