From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
1. those attires are best, those are the best dresses, etc., for the
3. orisons, prayers; O. F. orison, prayer, ultimately from Lat.
orare, to pray.
4. my state, sc. of mind.
5. cross, perverse, not willing to acquiesce in God's will.
7. cull'd, picked out, selected; Lat. colligere, to collect.
8. behoveful for our state, appropriate to the pomp, splendour,
of to-morrow's ceremony; such as it behoves us to use; to
'behove' is literally to be necessary.
9. So please you, if you will be so good; provided it pleases
11. full all, thoroughly, very fully, occupied.
12. In this ... business, in these preparations that have so unexpectedly come upon us.
14. God knows ... again, possibly we may never meet again.
Juliet is determined to kill herself, rather than marry Paris, if
the potion does not work as the Friar assured her it would, and
at the same time she has a suspicion that the potion may be a
15. thrills, which thrills; for the omission of the relative, see
Abb. § 244.
16. the heat of life, the warmth which life sends through the
body; not the heat that belongs to life.
18. What should ... here? but what is the use of my calling the
Nurse back? she can be of no use in that which I have to do.
19. My dismal ... alone. Shakespeare's figurative use of terms of
the stage is, as might be expected, very frequent; the words act,
scene, stage, proloque, part, etc., being thus employed by him.
Cp. e.g. A. Y. L.ii. 7. 139-4.3, "All the world's a stage. And all
the men and women merely players: They have their exits and
their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His
acts being seven ages."
21. What if ... all? supposing this mixture has no such effect as
the Friar promised, what will happen then?
23. forbid, prevent.
Stage Direction. Laying down her dagger. Steevens has shown
that "knives were formerly part of the accoutrement of a bride,"
but it does not follow that the dagger here was such part, for we
have seen above, iv. 1. 62, that she is provided with a "bloody
knife," though without any thought of decking herself for
marriage with Paris.
25. Subtly ... dead, has cunningly provided in order to make
sure of my death; to 'minister a poison' would in modern parlance mean rather 'cause it to be taken,' than merely furnish it.
28. it should not, it is not likely to be.
29. tried, sc. and proved; proved by trial, test. After this
line there follows in the first quarto "I will not entertain so bad
a thought," and this has been incorporated by a majority of the
editors. Ulrici, however, points out, with great force as it seems
to me, that Juliet's loftiness of resolve and the depth of her love
and fidelity are shown more clearly if her suspicion of the Friar
remains not wholly allayed.
32. a fearful point, a thing terrible to contemplate.
34. To whose ... in, into whose foul mouth no wholesome air
finds its way.
35. strangled, suffocated, choked; the modern sense of choked
by external compression is more accurate, the word coming from
the Gk....a halter.
36. is it not very like. The construction, interrupted here, is
taken up in 1. 45, again interrupted, and finally otherwise shaped
in 1. 49.
37. The horrible ... night, the horrible thoughts of death which
the tomb will force upon me, those thoughts being intensified by
the terror that belongs to night.
38. the terror of the place, the terror which is naturally
inspired by such a place.
39. As in a vault, I finding myself in a vault.
40. this many hundred years, this period of many, etc., though
this gives an idea of vagueness; so M. M. i. 3. 21, "this nineteen
years"; Macb. v. 5. 37, "Within this three mile"; Cor. iv. 1. 55,
"but one seven years." Also below, v. 2. 25, v. 3. 175.
41. pack'd, so closely mixed, stored in such numbers; the number of the dead, like the antiquity of the place (1. 39) adds to
42. yet but ... earth, so lately buried: as we should say
'hardly cold in his grave.'
43. festering, rotting, corrupting.
46. So early waking, waking before daylight has come.
46, 7. what with ... earth, with the combined effect upon my
senses of the loathsome smells and the shrieking, gibbering, of
the spirits as though they were mandrakes being plucked from
the earth; what with, as we now say, 'what with one thing and
another,' i.e. such was the result of all the circumstances: mandrakes, the plant mandragora, supposed to resemble a man's
figure, and sometimes represented with a duck's head (man-drake).
"An inferior degree of animal life," says Nares, "was attributed
to it, and it was commonly supposed that when torn from the
ground it uttered groans of so pernicious a nature that the person
who committed the violence went mad or died. To escape that
danger, it was recommended to tie one end of a string to the
plant and the other to a dog, upon whom the fatal groan would
then discharge its full malignity." It was also said to he especially found in graveyards in which animals had been buried. The
references to the superstition are frequent in old writers; and in
ii. H. VI. iii. 2. 310, we have "Would curses kill, as doth the
mandrake's groan, I would invent as bitter-searching terms, As
curst, as harsh and horrible to hear."
49. O, if I wake, again taking up the construction, and now
completing it: distraught, distracted; mentally torn asunder,
the feelings, as it were, tearing and rending the frame. So,
Lear, iii. 2. 57, 8, "close pent-up guilts, Rive your concealing
continents," i.e. burst through the bodies in which you are enveloped.
51. madly, in my madness.
53. great kinsman's, "compounded like great-nephew, great-grandfather and the like" (Delius); i.e. great in distance of time.
56. spit, thrust through as with a spit, skewer, on which meat
is roasted; cp. H. V. iii. 3. 38, "Your naked infants spitted upon
57. stay, Tybalt, stay, "she does not call upon Tybalt to
remain, but to hold. In her vision she imagines he is going to
hurt Romeo" (Delius).
58. this do ... thee, I pledge you in this potion.
Stage Direction. within the curtains. "Some explanation
of the business of the old stage may perhaps here be necessary.
The space 'within the curtains' where Juliet's bed is placed,
was the space at the back of the stage proper, beneath the raised
stage or gallery which served for a balcony, or the walls of a
besieged town as the case required; this was divided from the
stage proper by a traverse or curtain. The curtain closing before
Juliet's bed, the stage was now supposed to represent a hall in
Capulet's house (Sc. 4) where Capulet busies himself with the
preparations for the wedding. On his hearing of the arrival of
Paris he summons the Nurse to call forth Juliet, which, he being
gone, she proceeds to do, and opening the curtains the scene
again becomes Juliet's chamber (Sc. 5) where she is discovered
dead apparently on her bed. After the general lamentations
which take place on this occasion, 'They all but the Nurse goe
foorth casting Rosemary on her (Juliet) and shutting the curtens'
(Q1); and then follows the scene with Peter and the Musicians,
the stage then again being supposed a hall or some other apartment in Capulet's house" (Daniel).
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/romeo_4_3.html >.