Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Many people don’t know what “wherefore” means

In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” there is a balcony scene with Juliet on the balcony and Romeo below and Juliet says to Romeo “wherefore art thou Romeo”. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” there is the line “wherefore art thou sad”.

Many people completely miss what these lines are saying because they miss hearing the second half of the first word and hear it as “where”. Since this is NOT what wherefore means they have no hope of understanding what the line means.

In “Romeo and Juliet” there is a war going on between the two families and Juliet is of course asking Romeo why he had to belong to the family that her family was at war with. It has everything to do with WHY (which is the modern form of wherefore) and nothing whatever to do with where.

I have seen numerous supposedly comedy sketches based on that balcony scene that are not at all funny because the person who wrote it didn’t translate the statement into the modern English “why are you Romeo” and appear to believe that the poor 15 year old Juliet (who they usually incorrectly portray as much older) was blind.

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