Explain the following exchange: Mercutio: "Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance." Romeo: "You have dancing shoes with nimble soles. I have a soul of lead so stakes me to the ground I cannot...

Explain the following exchange: Mercutio: "Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance." Romeo: "You have dancing shoes with nimble soles. I have a soul of lead so stakes me to the ground I cannot move."

 

 

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This very clever pun appears as Romeo, Mercutio and the other Montague men are on their way to Capulet's party in Act I, Scene 4 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. A pun is a play on the multiple meanings of a word or two words that sound alike but have different meanings. Shakespeare was one of the greatest punsters of all time and more elaborate puns appear later in the play during the exchange between Romeo and Mercutio in Act II, Scene 4. In this scene Romeo is still depressed over his unrequited love for Rosaline and Mercutio is trying to cheer him up by convincing him that when they get to the party Romeo should dance. The pun involves the homophones soul and sole. Homophones occur when two words sound the same but have both different definitions and different spellings. Romeo claims that Mercutio has "nimble soles," meaning the bottoms of his shoes, but that he has a "soul of lead" because he is sad over his love for a girl who will not return his affection. 

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Romeo and Juliet

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