Study Guide

Romeo and Juliet Tough-o-Meter

By William Shakespeare

Tough-o-Meter

(7) Snow Line

Well, it's Shakespeare: we can't lie to you. He may have been writing for the masses back in the sixteenth-century, but it's easy to miss the jokes if you have to keep flipping to the footnotes, and puns on collier/ choler/ collar aren't exactly headlining on Comedy Central. Take the very beginning:

Two households, both alike in dignity
(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
(Prologue.1-4)

Even though these words especially difficult, the poetic language and tricky sentence structure make the meaning, well, a little obscure. (Translation: There were two important families in Verona, and we're about to cover the latest installment of their long-standing feud.) Still, it's a classic love story for a reason—and Shmoop has got your back.