Examples of puns and other word play, explanation of their significance -- especially how they characterize various characters -- links to outside resources, images to support analysis

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Sampson: Gregory, on my word we'll not carry coals.
Gregory: No, for then we should be colliers.
Sampson: I mean, an we be in choler, we'll draw.
Gregory: Ay, while you live, dray your neck out of collar.
This quote shows the opening lines of Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet". Two of the characters,
Gregory and Sampson, are best friends, and open the show by throwing puns at each other. Sampson
begins by telling Gregory that the two of them will not be demoted to carrying coal, and Gregory agrees.
Then Sampson, using a homonym, says that if they do carry coals, they'll draw their swords, like colliers,
and fight. Gregory then makes a witty remark telling Sampson to back down and remove himself from the
'collar', or the hangman's noose. The audience during Shakespeare's day would have thought this scene was/ hilarious, making Gregory and Sampson seem like light-hearted, easy going characters.
Scene 1, Lines 1-5
N/A
Romeo: I drempt a dream tonight Mercuito: Why, may one ask? Romeo: Well, what was yours? Mercutio: That dreamers often lie.
This quote is Punny because the fact that Mercutio says that dreamers often lie. This can either be taken seriously or in a funny way because dreamers often lie in bed.




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SAMPSON: 'Tis all one. I will show myself a tyrant. When I have fought with the men, I will be civil with the maids; I will cut off their heads.
GREGORY: The heads of the maids?
SAMPSON: Ay, the heads of the maids, of their maidenheads. Take it in what sense thou wilt.
GREGORY:They must take in sense that feel it.
Once Sampson had fought all of the men, he will then cut off the maids "heads". Then Gregory questions "the heads"







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TYBALT: Mercutio, thou consortest with Romeo.
MERCUTIO: Consort? what, dost thou make us minstrels? An thou make minstrels of us,
look to hear nothing but discords. Here's my fiddlestick;
here's that shall make you dance. Zounds, consort!
Another word for consort is a group of musicians, so Mercutio plays off of Tybalt by saying that they were musicians and that his sword was his fiddlestick, making him dance.
Also, he would hear anything but "discords" which sounds extrememly similar to "chords", what musicians actually play.
III.i 46-50

JULIET: Say thou but "Ay,"
And that bare vowl "I" shall poison more
Than the death-darting eye of cockatrice.
I am not I if there be such an "I",
Of those eyes shut makes thee answer "Ay."
If he be slain, say "Ay", or if not, "No"
Juliet's puns off of the words Ay, I, and eye are not only pitifiul because
they are just words that sound similar, but they also add to the
effect of Juliet crying and being sad that Romeo is being banished.
Ay, I and eye all sound like sounds that you make when you cry.
III.ii 51-56

JULIET: indeed, I shall never be satisfied till I behold him-- dead--is my poor heart
Juliet plays her sentence so that her true meaning isn't revealed to her mother-- that she loves Romeo and that until she sees him, her "poor heart" is "dead."
III.v.98-99

ROMEO: Flies may do this, but I must fly.
Romeo says that flies can kiss Juliet, however he must leave, or "fly". He uses the word "fly" to mean two different things in his sentence.
III.iii 43

Word Play Survey: