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March 26, 2013

“A rose by any other name...”


SHAKESPEARE’S FAMOUS LINES:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
      
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) 
       British playwright and poet
       Famed lines spoken by Juliet in
Romeo and Juliet (c. 1591), Act II, Scene II
       In this great tragedy, Romeo and Juliet are
“star-crossed lovers” (a term Shakespeare coined in the play). Romeo’s family, the Montagues, are feuding with the Capulets, Juliet’s family. But Romeo and Juliet can’t help their mutual attraction and fall in love with each other.
       The rose metaphor comes in
the play’s famous balcony scene, in which Romeo sees Juliet standing on the balcony of her bedroom and overhears her saying she loves him, even though he is a Montague.
       She muses aloud: 
    
     “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
           Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
           Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
           And I’ll no longer be a Capulet...
           ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
           Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
           What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
           Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
           Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
          
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
           By any other name would smell as sweet;

           So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
           Retain that dear perfection which he owes
           Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
           And for that name which is no part of thee
           Take all myself.”
       According to legend, the lines about the smell of a rose were also an inside joke. The Rose Theatre in London was a rival of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Supposedly, the Rose’s bathroom facilities were quite odiferous and Shakespeare's mention of a smelly rose slyly poked fun at that. The excellent Phrase Finder site says this story is probably just creative folk etymology, but London tour guides like to use it to amuse tourists.


A RECENT VARIATION FOR ANTI-GAY “CHRISTIANS”:

“There’s been a brouhaha on the Internet about the decision by the Associated Press to recognize same-sex couples and in news stories refer to a gay man’s spouse as ‘husband’ and a lesbian’s spouse ‘wife.’ Christian fundamentalist Marvin Olasky wrote that this action by the world’s leading wire service was not being neutral but was ‘endorsing same-sex marriage.’...Christians don’t have a copyright on the word ‘husband.’ What’s in a name, anyway? A Christian by any other name could still be petty and mean-spirited.”
      
Henry Denton, of Charleston, Utah (a beautiful corner of the Heber Valley) 
       In
a letter to the editor Henry wrote to The Salt Lake Tribune, published March 26, 2013


THE ORIGINAL ANTI-SPAM VARIATION:

“What’s in a name? That which we call Spam
By any other name would taste as lousy.”
  
       Satiric poem in
YANK magazine, January 14, 1944 
       Quoted in the book Minnesota Goes To War: The Home Front During World War II (2009)
       This take-off on Shakespeare, which was illustrated with the cartoon at left, was in an article complaining about the Spam “luncheon meat” that was regularly
included in K rations and B rations given to American GIs during World War II. The YANK article noted: “It’s not what they call it. It’s the frequency with which they throw it into your mess kit. Spam — sorry, we mean luncheon meat — might not be so bad if it was only served at luncheon. But when you get it at breakfast and supper, too, you can’t be blamed for getting mad at it.”


DA FUNK MASTER’S VERSION:

"At certain times you have to change to words you use to describe something. Change the interpretation of something, even though the essence is still the same. Like the word funk — we can use the word as long as we need to use the word, then we could just change it. But the rhythms would always go on being the same. Because funk by any other name would still be funky."
      
George Clinton
       American musician and music producer
       In an interview with Chip Stern, published in
Musician Magazine, April 1979



A LAUGH-IN GIRL’S FUNNY VERSION:

“A chrysanthemum by any other name would be easier to pronounce.”
      
Goldie Hawn
       American actress and founder of
The Hawn Foundation 
       In a comic bit
on the TV show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1968-1973)


A POLITICAN’S UNFUNNY BUZZKILL VERSION:

“In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be.”
       Hubert H. Humphrey (1911–1978)
       Democratic politician and U.S. Vice President
       In a
speech on March 26, 1966 in Washington, D.C.

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