In Romeo and Juliet Act 4, Scene 5, what two meanings can be ascribed to the word "note" as it is used in line 113?
In this scene, the nurse discovers Juliet's lifeless body and assumes that she has died. She cries out and summons her parents who are devastated. They had prepared for Juliet's betrothal to Paris and her death was obviously the last thing they expected. What they evidently do not realise is that their daughter is actually in a death-like sleep brought on by a powerful sleeping potion which friar Lawrence had provided as part of the plan to have her later meet up with Romeo and then leave Verona.
In the confusion caused by the tragedy, all the wedding arrangements have to be changed to those of a funeral. It is at this point that Peter, one of the Capulet's servants, converses with the musicians who had been hired to play at the funeral. He requests that they play him a happy song to cheer him up, considering that it was such a sad occasion. The musicians are not very cooperative and thus begins a verbal barrage between Peter and them.
At some point, Peter says that he will not pay the musicians if they don't play. In response, the first musician tells him that he will, in retaliation, call him a serving-creature. Peter's response is:
Then will I lay the serving-creature's dagger on
your pate. I will carry no crotchets: I'll re you,
I'll fa you; do you note me?
He means that he will knock the musician on his head with his dagger and will not bear his insults. He further threatens the musician by stating that he will 're' and then 'fa' him. These are obvious references to musical notes but used in a different context. Peter means that he will play these notes on the musician's head with his dagger. It is a threat to knock him about the head.
To make sure that the musician understands him properly, he asks him 'do you note me?' The word is used as a pun in this instance and means, "Are you taking note of what I'm saying?" or "Have you heard what I've just said?" The word can also refer to a musical note since Peter has been using references to these throughout their inane argument.
This piece of inane humour seems quite out of place within the context of what has happened and may have, as its purpose, the provision of some comic relief. It could also be a diversion from the tragic circumstances at play here and may be used to remind the audience about the iniquities of life, that everything is tied together and that there is a thin line between tragedy and comedy, life and death, etcetera. Be that as it may, it is all one or, as we may say, "It is all part of life."