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Without doubt, Gregory has a wit that recognizes pun, playing upon the meanings of the idiom. Here are some examples:
- Playing upon the meaning of "carrying coals" by pretending to be ignorant of it
- he toys with Sampson's word draw used in reference to drawing his sword as he cautions Sampson to "draw your neck out of the collar," meaning to not draw his sword or he may be hanged.
- When Sampson says, "I strike quickly, being moved," Gregory again uses pun, telling Sampson, "But, thou art not quickly moved to strike," meaning that Sampson is not very quickly angered enough to hit the mark and may be in danger.
I agree that Gregory is the more quick witted of the two. Certainly neither character has a very high opinion of women. Of course, this really reflects the general attitudes about gender at the time. I think Shakespeare wrote them this way to show a contrast between the period ideas about gender and Romeo's ideas about gender. We see Romeo as a more loving and gentle person because he views women with much more respect than his peers Gregory and Sampson.
Gregory seems the more witty of the two. Every time Sampson tries to make a serious point, Gregory mocks and plays with him by using verbal humor, as in their very opening exchanges:
- Sampson. Gregory, o' my word, we'll not carry coals.
- Gregory. No, for then we should be colliers.
- Sampson. I mean, an we be in choler, we'll draw.
- Gregory. Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o' the collar.20
- Sampson. I strike quickly, being moved.
- Gregory. But thou art not quickly moved to strike.
- Sampson. A dog of the house of Montague moves me.
- Gregory. To move is to stir; and to be valiant is to stand:
therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn'st away.
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