I’ve read a couple of different posts and even in a couple of books recently about people “pouring over” documents or books.
I wondered at first if this was one of those things Americans do with words that nobody else does, but I checked, and it’s not. It’s simply an error caused by confusion by words that sound the same even though they are spelt differently and mean completely different things.
What the people in question should be doing is poring over their books. To pore over books or documents is to be completely absorbed in what one is reading or studying. It suggests thoughtful application and concentration. The gerund is poring.
To pour over books is just going to make a mess, and probably ruin them completely. It’s really not advisable.
I have witnessed so many people talking about Romeo and Juliet as “star-cross’d lovers” in the sense of their meeting and relationship being their destiny, and that the two were somehow fated to be together.
This couldn’t be more wrong.
The actual meaning of the term becomes clearer if one thinks of it in terms of the stars actually crossing them.
Romeo and Juliet were never meant to be together. The fates were against them, right from the start, and it was never going to work out well.
It’s important to remember that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a tragedy, not a comedy or romance. In Shakespeare’s tragedies, the main characters always die. There are no happy endings. That’s a convention of the genre, and it is pointless to expect anything else.
Not only that, but Shakespeare gives us the spoilers right there in the prologue, the opening speech of the play, which is where the phrase comes from. They’re going to die, and as they are laid to rest, so too will be buried the feud between their families, which is what made their love forbidden in the first place.
If, as some believe they do, the stars were to control one’s fortunes in life, the last thing you’d wish for is to be “star-crossed” in any way.
Of all the lines written by Shakespeare, this is possibly the single most misunderstood by a 21st century audience.
While it might be a romantic notion for a lovesick teenager to look out her window— not a balcony, by the way— and wonder where her beloved might be, that’s all it is. That is not what is happening in this scene.
In early modern English, “wherefore” meant “why”.
Juliet is not asking where Romeo is. She is asking why, of all the families in Italy, did her new boyfriend have to belong to the family with which hers had been feuding? Why did he have to carry a name that would be an immovable obstacle to them both?
She goes on to insist “that which we call a rose by any other name would be as sweet”— in other words, it’s not the name that makes someone what they are. If Romeo were to change his identity, he would still be the same person. What his name is should not matter — what sort of person he is, and the fact that she loves him, is what should determine their compatibility.
That’s why when you’re waiting for a friend or looking for your dog, it’s incorrect to ask “Wherefore art thou, Buddy?” It may sound cute, but it will make your Shakespeare-loving friends cringe, at least on the inside.
Since then, I’ve noticed one really annoying thing when I’ve been scrolling through my feed. It’s not actually the fault of Pinterest, but it is there that I am continually reminded of a matter that really needs to be corrected.
There’s a super popular quote that keeps coming up on my feed because Pinterest knows I love Shakespeare. It’s all over the internet, and it seems every second person on Pinterest is sharing it.
The problem is, while it sounds like something Shakespeare might have written, those lines do not appear anywhere in the plays or poetry of the Bard… not even close, actually.
The quote is a translation from an Italian opera by Arrigo Boito titled ‘Falstaff’, based on one of Shakespeare’s plays, and which uses a number of lines from several other plays, too. Given that Boito borrowed from the Bard quite freely, it’s not really surprising that other lines from the libretto have been wrongly attributed back to Shakespeare. Some might suggest it’s karma, but it’s really just careless.
I’m more than happy for people to continue posting pretty images of the quote, but it would be great to see them attributed to the right person.