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  Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde (December 16, 2008)

The Whys and Wherefores

Juliet calls to Romeo from her balcony perch: "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?" It is easy to think that she means "Where are you Romeo?"

If you think so, you've missed the meaning of the verb, "wherefore," in Shakespeare's time. Then, "wherefore" meant why.

So, the quotation from Juliet translates better as her asking why Romeo is who is (that he comes from a family that is an enemy of her own). Remember that language changes with time!

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