This application brings to you William Shakespearss famous play Romeo and Juliet with fully annotated, with an introduction, by Burton Raffel with an easy by Harold Bloom.
Written four centuries ago, in a fairly early form of Modern English, Romeo and Juliet is a gorgeously passionate, witty, and complex text. Many of the plays social and historical underpinnings necessarily need, for the modern reader, the kinds of explanation offered in the Introduction. But what needs even more, and far more detailed, explanation are the plays very words. Toward the end of act 1, scene 1, Romeo and his loyal friend, Benvolio (the name means, in Italian well loved, just as Romeos name, in Italian, means pilgrim), spar wittily about the nature of love:
Benvolio Alas that love, so gentle in his view,
Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof.
Romeo Alas that love, whose view is muffled still,
Should without eyes see pathways to his will.
For comprehension of these linescompletely typical of the plays languagethe modern reader needs help. In Benvolios two lines,
gentle = courteous, noble
in his view = in his [Cupids] appearance (his frequently means its)
rough = disagreeable, harsh
in proof = how it turns out/is experienced.
And in Romeos two lines,
view is muffled still = whose sight is forever/always blinded
without eyes: Cupid is blind
his will = his pleasure, desire.
The modern reader or listener of course will better understand this brief exchange in context, as the drama unfolds. But without full explanation of words that have over the years shifted in meaning, neither the modern reader nor the modern listener is likely to be equipped for full comprehension. I believe annotations of this sort create the necessary bridges, from Shakespeares four-centuries-old English across to ours.
About this Book
Romeo and Juliet
An easy by Harold Bloom