From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
*Line numbers have been adjusted.
2. Phoebus' lodging, the western ocean. Malone thinks
Shakespeare probably had in mind Marlowe's Edward II
42-6, "Gallop apace, bright Phoebus, through the sky and
dusky night, in rusty iron car. Between you both shorten
time, I pray, That I may see that most desired day, When we
may meet these traitors in the field."
3. Phaethon. The son of Helios (the Sun-God), who, when
allowed for one day to drive his father's chariot across the
heavens, drove so furiously that the horses rushed out of the
usual track, and came so near the earth as almost to set it on
6. runaways' eyes. The emendations and their explanations of
this phrase occupy twenty-eight pages of small print in Furness's
quarto edition of this play. Of those emendations, if emendation was necessary, the more reasonable are runagates, rude
day's, Luna's, sunny day's, noonday's, sun-aweary: but no
emendation seems required.
17. thou day in night, you (sc. the night) who will be to me
bright with all delight.
18. thou, i.e. in effect, the happiness which Romeo's coming
will bring, which is synonymous and coeval with Romeo's
20. black-brow'd night, night which though frowning in look
is so welcome in Juliet's eyes. Steevens compares K. J. v. 6.
17, "Why, here walk I, in the black brow of night."
21, 2. cut him ... stars, cut him out into patterns or shapes of
[Note: Many people are curious about Romeo and Juliet and its connection to the Kennedy family. In his tribute to John F. Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention in 1964, Robert Kennedy quoted Shakespeare's beautiful words:
When there were periods of crisis, you stood beside him. When there were periods of happiness, you laughed with him. And when there were periods of sorrow, you comforted him. I realize that as individuals we can't just look back, that we must look forward. When I think of President Kennedy, I think of what Shakespeare said in Romeo and Juliet:
"When he shall die take him and cut him out into stars and he shall make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun."
I realize that as individuals, and even more important, as a political party and as a country, we can't just look to the past, we must look to the future.]
23. fine, bright, resplendent.
24. garish, glaring; literally 'staring'; cp. Il Penseroso, 141,
"Hide me from day's garish eye."
27. But not possess'd it, but not yet entered upon possession:
though I am sold, though Romeo has purchased me at the price
of his love.
29. As is the night ... them. Cp. M. N. D. i. 1. 3-6.
33. But Romeo's name, merely his name, that single word.
38. well-a-day. A corruption of walawa, an interjection made
up of two interjections wa and la, which was gradually modified
into the feebler form 'well-away,' and then into 'well-a-day.'
In Per. iv. 4. 49, the word is used as a substantive. Decker
writes wellada, as well as hoida or hoyda for the later 'hey-day.'
41. envious, malicious, cruel; as more usually in Shakespeare.
42, 3. Romeo ... cannot, the mischief is not heaven's doing,
45. What devil ... thus? surely you must be a devil to cause
me the tortures of the damned by exclaiming 'Romeo,' 'Romeo,'
and keeping me in this suspense.
46. should be roar'd ... hell, hell with its outcries of the tortured would be the fitting place for exclamations that torture
48. 'I,' formerly the adverb 'ay' = yes, was frequently written 'I.'
49. cockatrice, a fabulous creature, said to be from the egg
of a cock, and having the form of a serpent with a cock's head,
which was supposed to kill with its mere look. Sometimes
identified with the basilisk.
50. I am not ... an I, I am a dead woman if it is possible that
you should answer in the affirmative as to Romeo having slain
51. Or those eyes ... 'I,' or if those eyes are closed in death,
and thus oblige you to answer in the affirmative; with a further
pun on eyes and I.
53. Brief sounds ... woe, let brief sounds (i.e. a single word)
show whether I am happy or miserable, whether Romeo is alive
55. God save the mark! This expression, which occurs again
in i. H. IV. i. 3. 56, Oth. i. 1. 33, and with the variation "God
bless the mark!" in M. V. ii. 2. 25, T. G. iv. 4. 21, has never
been fully explained. Schmidt, it is true, has seen that the
reference is to personal blemishes, tokens, as they were called,
which were considered ominous, and that the phrases "God
bless the mark," "God save the mark," were used to avert the
evil omen; but in giving the words "saving your reverence,
under your pardon," as its equivalent, he somewhat misses its
force. To a friend, learned in Irish ways and Irish folk-lore, I
owe the following fuller account of the superstition.
superstition of the evil eye," he says, "which was originally a
purely eastern one, is still prevalent among the Keltic population
of Ireland. If a child is born with any peculiar mark on the
skin of the leg, face, arm, etc., it is customary for the midwife
to touch it, saying 'God bless the mark!' Also, later on in life, if any one laughs at such a mark, and the person who has
the mark falls ill, it is firmly believed that the illness is the
result of the evil eye. In the year 1867 I knew a peasant's child
who had a red mark on his arm. He was playing about when
a woman observed this mark and laughed at it. A few days
later the child fell sick, and the father went to the woman and
accused her of 'making a bad eye' (I translate the Irish idiom)
on the child. He then told her that unless she came, spat on
the mark, and said 'God bless the mark!' he would bring her
before the bench of magistrates. On her refusal, they came
before my father who, to satisfy both parties, bade the woman
do as the man had asked her. Accordingly the woman went,
spat on the place, crossed herself, and said 'God bless the mark!'
The child recovered, as he would have done, of course, without this ceremony, and the woman, having got the name of the 'evil
eye,' left the neighbourhood. This treatment for being 'over-looked,' as they call it, has been in the country from time immemorial, and I have no doubt gave rise to the expression 'God
bless, or save, the mark!' "Allusion to some such ceremony
seems to be made in a line in Beaumont and Fletcher's (?) play
of The Noble Gentleman, iv. 4. 93, 'God bless the mark, and
every good man's child!"
58. gore-blood. "That is, clotted, congealed blood. ... As the nurse says of Tybalt, 'all in gore-blood,' exactly so would an
East Anglian nurse say on a like occasion. Or, perhaps, 'all of
a gore,' or 'all of a gore of blood'" (Forby). Halliwell quotes
Vicars's Virgil, 1632, "Whose hollow wound vented much black
gore-bloud." swounded, swooned; swound is a form frequently
found in the old copies of Shakespeare, and swounded is perhaps
an intentional vulgarism here.
61. Vile earth, sc. her own body: resign, sc. yourself.
62. press ... bier, make heavy by your weight a single bier;
bier, is the frame on which a coffin is borne; from the same
root as bear.
66. What storm ... contrary? What storm is this that blows
at the same time from two such opposite directions? what
calamity is this of such a double and different nature?
69. trumpet, sc. of the Archangel, to be blown on the Day of
71. he is banished, for the redundant pronoun after a proper
name, see Abb. 243.
75. serpent ... face. Cp. Macb. i. 5. 66, 7, "look like the innocent flower. But be the serpent under it"; iii. H. VI. i. 4. 137, "O tiger's heart wrapt in a woman's hide!"
76. keep, inhabit, occupy; very frequent in Shakespeare, and
still in use in the universities, where a man is said to 'keep' in
such and such rooms.
79. Despised, hateful; cp. above, i. 4. 110, and below, iv. 5. 59:
82. what hadst ... hell, what were you busy about in hell, and
how came you to be there, as you must have been?
83. bower, enclose; the substantive originally means a place to
dwell, a chamber, then more commonly a shady recess formed by
trees and shrubs, a sense here implied in allusion to paradise, i.e.
a pleasure-ground, garden, particularly the garden of Eden.
84, 5. Was ever ... bound. For this metaphor, see above, i. 8. 67.
85, 6. O, that deceit ... palace! Cp. Temp. i. 2. 457, "There's
nothing ill can dwell in such a temple"; said by Miranda of
89, 90. All perjured ... forsworn. With Daniel, I have substituted
Fleay's conjecture for the reading of the old copies, "All perjured, all forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers."
91. man, servant: aqua vitae, brandy, or 'strong waters' of
97. may be crown'd, may fitly be crowned, need not blush to be
102. smooth thy name, restore to its former state after being
mangled by my cruel words; cp. above, i. 5. 98.
105. That villain ... husband, I sufficiently answer my own
accusing question when I say that that villain cousin sought my
106. foolish tears. Steevens compares Miranda's words, Temp.
iii. 1. 73, "I am a fool to weep at what I am glad of."
107. Your tributary ... woe, your drops are properly due to woe;
in tributary and belong together there is something of redundancy.
111. All this is comfort, there is nothing in this but what should
give me comfort.
118. Hath slain ... Tybalts, outweighs to me the death of ten
thousand Tybalts; is sufficient to make me acquiesce in the death
of ten thousand such relatives as Tybalt.
121. And needly ... griefs, and demands to have some companion
calamity; needly, not elsewhere used by Shakespeare.
122, 3. Why follow'd ... both, why did she not follow up her
news by saying that my father, or my mother, or both, were dead.
124. Which modern ... moved, news which might have called
forth ordinary lamentation; modern, always used by Shakespeare
in the sense of commonplace, common, trite; cp. e.g. A. W. ii. 3. 2,
"we have our philosophical persons, to make modern and familiar,
things supernatural and causeless"; Macb. iv. 3. 170, "where
violent sorrow seems A modern ecstasy; the dead man's knell Is
there scarce ask'd for who."
125. a rearward, as a rear-guard, as something supplementary;
cp. M. A. iv. 1. 128, "For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly
die ... Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches, Strike at thy
life," i.e. follow up my reproaches by killing you. For rearward
Collier conjectured 'rear-word,' which Lettsom approves and
130. In that word's death, in the death that is comprised in
that single word: sound, i.e. adequately, to the full extent.
133. bring, conduct.
134. Wash they, let them wash.
136. beguiled, cheated of your purpose, rendered useless.
138. made you for, intended you for.
140. my wedding-bed, sc. the grave; cp. above, i. 5. 133.
146. my true knight, it being customary in the days of chivalry
for ladies to adorn their lovers with some mark of their favour.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/romeo_3_2.html >.