Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

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112 ‘and fought on part and part’ – ‘on either side’.

114 ‘O where is Romeo […]’ – The brief spell of rhymed couplets from Benvolio and Lady Montague perhaps marks a shift from the unseemly brawling with which the play has begun to more courtly and sentimental matters. Although the rhyming ceases, Benvolio’s following speech is heavily end-stopped and elaborate.

116 ‘an hour before the worshipp’d sun’ – The modifier seems redundant, but ‘worship’ in this period did not necessarily imply pagan idolatry: here, it simply means ‘honoured’. It becomes clear from Benvolio’s speech that both he, to an extent, and certainly Romeo are not ‘honouring’ the sunshine of the day as they should, but creeping about at night – and Romeo is further revealed to be shutting out the sun by drawing the curtains of his room.

117 ‘Peer’d forth the golden window of the East’ – This refers to the sun Romeo is avoiding by remaining in darkness; when Juliet finally ‘dawns’ upon him, he will say: ‘But soft what light from yonder window breaks?/ It is the dawn, and Juliet is the sun’ (II.ii.1-2).

119 ‘sycamore’ – The tree is perhaps chosen as it suggests ‘sick-amour’ or ‘love sick’.

124 ‘measuring his affections by my own’ – This doesn’t mean that Benvolio and Romeo do not like each other: ‘affections’ here means ‘feelings’ in a broader sense. Both (lovesick) young men want to be alone.

125 ‘Which then most sought, where most might not be found.’ – understand: ‘Which then most sought [a place], where [I] most [surely] might not be found.’

126 ‘Being one too many by my weary self’ – Cf. Hamlet’s wish for his ‘flesh’ to ‘resolve itself into a dew’. Whereas the latter, in his first soliloquy, genuinely wishes to disappear off the face of the earth, Benvolio is probably speaking with a degree of wry humour.

127 ‘by not pursuing his’ – i.e. by not seeking to find out what is amiss with his friend.

131 ‘Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs’ – This is conventionally ornate Elizabethan writing, but it is also closely observed. Just before sunrise is usually the coldest period of the night and Romeo’s sighed out breath is visible in the dawn light. The word ‘clouds’ is also metaphorical, implying Romeo’s gloom.

132 ‘All so soon as the all-cheering sun’ – The repetition of ‘all’ isolates Romeo as the only one the sun does not cheer.

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William Shakespeare
the Unkindness of Ravens If you have found our critical notes helpful, why not try the first Tower Notes novel, a historical fantasy set in the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions.

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