Study Guide

Romeo and Juliet Tough-o-Meter

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(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.

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.

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