Who hasn’t heard of Romeo and Juliet? Perhaps the most well-known of William Shakespeare’s plays, Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy concerning two star-crossed lovers coming from the Montague and Capulet household who are locked in a cycle of violence and feud. The feud only ends when the entire city sees the two dead bodies side by side in the Capulet’s tombs.
This scene is when Juliet and Romeo first met at the Capulet’s masquerade, which Romeo and his friends had decided to gatecrash. With love at first sight, Juliet goes to her veranda to muse about the young man named Romeo. Contrary to popular belief, the term “wherefore” means “why” and not “where”. In this piece, Juliet wonders why Romeo had to be the Romeo of the Montague household.
O, Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Though, Romeo?
Act 2. Scene 2.
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name—
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
’Tis but thy name that is my enemy:
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for thy name, which is not part of thee,
Take all myself.
For those who want to read modernized texts side-by-side Shakespeare’s writings, you can look up the No Fear, Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet (and there’s also an illustrated one – Romeo and Juliet graphic novel).