The chemicals in our bodies make us what we are…
The Times Of India, June 6
This is probably what the famous balcony scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2) would be like if due credit was given to our hormones:
Juliet: O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Romeo: What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun. Or could it be that it is the adrenaline pounding in my blood?
Juliet: Ay me.
Romeo: She speaks. O speak again, bright angel, for ’tis clear your serotonin levels are elevated. Never have I beheld a maiden with more of the estrogen estradiol.
Juliet: ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
Romeo: Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptised;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
Juliet: O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Romeo: My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee;
Call me Testosterone.
Juliet: O Testosterone, Testosterone! Wherefore art thou Testosterone?
Romeo: It is my lady, O, it is my love. O that I were the DARPP 32 protein, encoded by the PPP1R1B gene that I might touch her dopamine receptors.
Juliet: How camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
The orchard walls are hard to climb.
Romeo: With phenylethylamine light wings did I o’er-perch these walls;
For stony limits cannot hold cortisol,
And what Testosterone can do that dares Testosterone attempt.
Juliet: Thou know’st the mask of night is on my face,
Else would a beta-endorphin bepaint my cheek.
Romeo: Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear.
Juliet: O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest thy love prove likewise variable.
Romeo: What shall I swear by?
Juliet: Do not swear at all;
Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious dopamine
And I’ll believe thee. O gentle Testosterone,
If thou dost love, pronounce it.
Romeo: O love of my androgens, including D REA, testosterone and androstenedione…
Juliet: Well, do not swear: although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract tonight:
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden; too much like a surge of norepinephrine.
Sweet, good night!
This bud of love, by hormone’s ripening breath,
May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.
Good night! As sweet oxytocin
Come to thy heart as that within my breast!
Romeo: And vasopressin to thee. But wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?
Juliet: What satisfaction canst thou have tonight?
Romeo: The exchange of thy hormones for mine. Thy endorphins for my enkephalins, my testosterone for thine estrogens.
Juliet: I gave thee mine before thou didst request it:
If that thy bent of love be honourable,
Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow.
Romeo: Methinks me detects vasopressin aka the monogamy molecule kicking in. Thine words have activated my withdrawal symptoms, I feelest my prolactin levels rising, whilst my androgen receptors droppest. Adieu, O Dopa Mine…
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal