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I have an odd question, and if anyone knows the answer I'd really appreciate it. I...

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writergal06 | Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted March 22, 2013 at 7:05 PM via web

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I have an odd question, and if anyone knows the answer I'd really appreciate it. I remember reading a story (or possibly play; I can't remember) in high school about these two teenagers that live next door to each other. They are in love, but their parents don't approve. So, they talk and plan secretly through the wall (like in Romeo and Juliet). But, in an ironic twist, we find out in the end that the parents wanted them to fall in love, so they manipulated them into thinking it was forbidden. Does anyone know this story? If so, what is it called and who wrote it? I can't find it anywhere. 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 22, 2013 at 8:36 PM (Answer #1)

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Except for the ironic twist that the parents do want them to marry, this story sounds like the mythological tale of Pyramus and Thisbe, two lovers in Babylon, whose parents have properties that touch each other. The lovers talk through the wall that separates them; finally, wishing to be with each other, they agree to meet outside the city walls by a mulberry tree and run off to elope.  However, their plan ends tragically as Pyramus finds the cloak of Thisbe carried by a lion and it is bloody. Therefore, he assumes his lover has been killed by the beast and, in despair, he kills himself. When Thisbe returns because Pyramus has not met her, she discovers his body and then commits suicide in her accompanying despair.

There is a short story by Edith Wharton entitled "The House of the Dead Hand" in which the romance between Sybilla and Count Ottoviano has been viewed by critics as a new Pyramus and Thisbe; however, the similarities are not as strong as you suggest.

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