Discussion Topic

Puns in Act 2, Scene 4 of "Romeo and Juliet" and their meanings

Summary:

In Act 2, Scene 4 of "Romeo and Juliet," Mercutio and Benvolio engage in wordplay. Mercutio jokes about Romeo being 'dead' from love, using 'goose' as a term for fool and 'pump' as a reference to shoes and sexual innuendo. These puns highlight the playful and witty nature of their friendship and provide comic relief amid the play's romantic tension.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the pun in act 2, scene 4 of Romeo and Juliet?

This particular scene is full of puns, particularly shown to reveal Mercutio's playful and rather bawdy personality. Many of these puns, therefore, are sexual in nature. Consider this one:

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

ROMEO: Pink for flower.

Although on the surface the men are talking about courteous behavior, Mercutio actually sets Romeo up for a playful pun. The “pink flower” is here a reference to female genitalia.

They continue this pun in the following lines:

ROMEO: Why, then is my pump well flowered.

MERCUTIO: Sure wit, follow me this jest now till thou hast worn
out thy pump, that when the single sole of it is worn,
the jest may remain, after the wearing solely singular.

On the surface, Romeo counters that his shoe (or pump) is well-patterned (or flowered). The pun is that his pump (or male genitalia) has been covered in flowers (or female genitalia).

Mercutio delivers another pun later in the scene when talking to Juliet's nurse:

NURSE: Is it good e’en?

MERCUTIO: ’Tis no less, I tell you, for the bawdy hand of the
dial is now upon the prick of noon.

NURSE: Out upon you! What a man are you?

The nurse has questioned Mercutio’s use of “evening” in his greeting, and his response is laden with puns. The round dial of the clock is a pun for female genitalia, and the "prick" of the hands stand straight up at noon—a pun for an erection. Thus, the nurse scolds him for such a bawdy reply to her.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is one pun used in Act 2, Scene IV of "Romeo and Juliet", and its meaning?

The puns in this scene are mostly between Romeo and Mercutio, who is happy to see that Romeo has climbed out of his depression over his unrequited love for Rosaline.  However, Mercutio turns his quick tongue on the nurse when she approaches and says, "here's goodly gear" which is in reference to her many clothes (he refers to her as a 'sail') and the amount of flesh she carries which must be covered by many yards of fabric.  However, it is also a pun as "gear" refers to the reproductive organs of the Nurse.  Since she was once the wet nurse for Juliet, we assume everything works.   

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on