Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Puns In Romeo And Juliet

What are 10 puns in Romeo and Juliet and what do they mean?

Many puns in Romeo and Juliet can be found in Mercutio and Romeo's banter. Some of these puns are sexual innuendos, like when Romeo says, “Why, then is my pump well flowered” (2.4), and some are just fun wordplay. Even when Mercutio is fatally wounded, he still makes a pun about his impending death by saying “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man” (3.1).

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jvbellon eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Mercutio: Nay, I am the very pink of courtesy.

Romeo: Pink for flower.

Mercutio: Right.

Romeo: Why, then is my pump well flowered.

Well, they aren't actually talking about pumps or flowers. There are so many sexual puns in this play—this is but one.

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Romeo and Juliet begins with a triple pun on the word collier (coal vendor) which sound like choler (anger) and collar(hangman's noose). (I,i,1-4)

Here are some others:

Give me a torch. I am not for this ambling./Being but heavy(sad, weighing much) I will bear the light (brightness, weighing little). (I,iv,1-2)

Not I, believe me You have dancing shoes /With nimble soles. I have a soul of lead/So stakes me to the ground I cannot move. (I,iv,4-6)

...What dost thou make us minstrels? An thou makes mistrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords (off-key notes/disagreements). (III, i, 34-35)

We see the ground (earth/reason) whereon these woes do lie,/But the true ground of all these piteous woes/We cannot without circumstance descry. (V,iii,179-181)

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lynn30k eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Shakespeare wrote some great puns in Romeo and Juliet. I can't give you 10, but my favorite is Mercutio's pun in Act III when he realizes he has been fatally wounded:

...ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man.

Grave meaning "serious," but, in this case, also meaning dead.

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jennbriden | Student

William Shakespeare's popularity has much to do with his creative and frequent use of wordplay, including puns. Mixing prose with metered verse, Shakespeare's popularity helped advance English dialogue and popular writing, making it both highbrow and accessible to the common person.

I have added one example of off-color wordplay from Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet."

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Act 1, Scene 1 - Sampson and Gregory share lewd puns while walking through the city.

GREGORY
The quarrel is between our masters and us
their men.

SAMPSON
'Tis all one. I will show myself a tyrant.
When I have fought with the men, I will be civil
with the maids; I will cut off their heads.

GREGORY
The heads of the maids?

SAMPSON
Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads.
Take it in what sense thou wilt.
(1.1.20-27)

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In the previous example, Sampson and Gregory, servants of the house of Capulet, are discussing the feud between their house and the Montague's. Sampson declares that he will be "civil" with the women in the Montague house if he meets them on the street. He tells Gregory that he will cut off the women's heads. Gregory is confused--how can someone be civil to someone by cutting off their head? Sampson tells him that he will be civil because he will either cut off their heads and spare them additional torture, or that he will "cut off' their maidenheads. Maidenhead was a contemporary term in Elizabethan England for a woman's virginity. By saying that he will cut off their maidenheads, Sampson is expressing that he will rape the women. Both options of either cutting off a woman's head or taking her virginity through rape are civil. Shakespeare here has several layers of wordplay in flight.

1) In the lines preceding these, Sampson and Gregory are discussing killing any Montague that they meet on the street. When Sampson says that he will be civil to the Montague women, Shakespeare wants the reader/viewer to think that Sampson might have some form of compassion and humanity.

2) The lines then progress and Sampson clearly indicates that he is not at all merciful to anyone, regardless of their gender. You could say that Sampson is about equivalent treatment for all people, even though that treatment is atrocious and cruel.

3) When Sampson then says that he will either cut off their heads or rape them, he presents a clear juxtaposition of the connotation of the word "civil" and a clear progression of violence and cruelty.

discussion | Student

"Dreamers often lie" is my favorite too...

Here's another exchange:

Sampson: I will show myself a tyrant. When I have fought with the men, I will be cruel with the maids, and cut off their heads.


Gregory: The heads of the maids?


Sampson: Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads; take it in what sense thou wilt.

AND:

Mercutio: Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.


Romeo: Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes.
With nimble soles; I have a soul of lead
So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.

If not puns, then an interesting play on words and double entendres.

little-alice | Student

My favorite pun in Romeo and Juliet is said by Mercutio

"And we mean well in going to this mask, but 'tis no wit to go."

"Why, may one ask?"

"I dreamt a dream tonight."

"And so did I."

"Well, what was yours?"

"That dreamers often lie."

"In bed asleep while they do dream things true."

Act one scene four.

With Love and Care,

Alice.

iknoweverything1 | Student

ok for the second pun that the teacher at communit Jr. college had it's:

"Give me a torch, I am not for this ambling. Being but heavy I will bear the light" (1.4.11-12).