ÃÂÃÂAn EXCELLENT conceited Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,ÃÂÃÂ is a play written by the well-known poet and playwright, William Shakespeare (1564-1616). In most of his plays, Shakespeare utilizes what is known as a ÃÂÃÂDouble-Entendre,ÃÂÃÂ which is a spoken phrase devised to be understood in multiple ways, especially when one meaning is risquÃÂÃÂ©. The prologue of Romeo and Juliet is an ideal example of ShakespeareÃÂÃÂs technique of utilizing a Double-Entendre.
"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).
"Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean;ÃÂÃÂ In this phrase lies the Double-Entendre. Shakespeare describes the blood as ÃÂÃÂcivilÃÂÃÂ, meaning: innocent, polite/courteous or simply relating to citizens (i.e. citizens of a town). The word ÃÂÃÂcivilÃÂÃÂ is the Double-Entendre, for it has more than one way to be understood. For the first meaning, we will take ÃÂÃÂcivilÃÂÃÂ to mean citizens.
When Shakespeare uses ÃÂÃÂcivilÃÂÃÂ to describe blood, he is referring to the fighting (ÃÂÃÂbloodÃÂÃÂ) between fellow civilians, Montague and Capulet, and the next part of the sentence, ÃÂÃÂ...makes civil hands unclean,ÃÂÃÂ means that the fighting between these civilians, are drawing other, law-abiding (ÃÂÃÂcivilÃÂÃÂ) people and brings them to guilt (ÃÂÃÂuncleanÃÂÃÂ) too, in basic terms a ÃÂÃÂcivilÃÂÃÂ war.
For the second meaning, we will consider ÃÂÃÂcivilÃÂÃÂ to mean polite, courteous, thus giving us a paradoxical situation. When Shakespeare uses this meaning of ÃÂÃÂcivilÃÂÃÂ to describe blood, it leaves us to think, how bloodshed between the two civilians, Montague and Capulet, can be regarded as ÃÂÃÂcivilÃÂÃÂ. This wouldnÃÂÃÂt make any sense, but it was ShakespeareÃÂÃÂs intention, to make a paradoxical situation, to show that the supposedly ÃÂÃÂfairÃÂÃÂ town of Verona is in fact lacking fairness and courtesy. For if Verona was in fact ÃÂÃÂcivilÃÂÃÂ,