Read Shakespeare’s ‘What’s in a name?’ soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet below with modern English translation and analysis, plus a video performance.

‘What’s In A Name?’ Spoken by Juliet, Act 2 Scene 2

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

‘What’s In A Name’ Quote Translation

Juliet is not allowed to associate with Romeo because he is a Montague. If he had any other name it would be fine. She’s complaining that his name is meaningless. If the rose had any other name it would still be the same. So with Romeo; he would still be the same beautiful young man even if he had a different name. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” Juliet knows that the blood feud prevents her from loving a Montague. She ponders it. It’s only your name that’s the enemy. You are what you are, even though you may be a Montague. What’s ‘Montague’? It isn’t hand or foot or arm or face or any other part belonging to a man. Oh I wish you had a different name. What is so special about a name? A rose, even if it were called something else, would smell just as sweet. So Romeo would still have all the perfection that he has, even if he were not called Romeo. Romeo, take off your name and in exchange for that whole name, which is not really a part of what you are, you can have all of me.

Watch ‘What’s In A Name’ Quote Performed (1:37)

See other Shakespeare soliloquies >>

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