Romeo and Juliet
How we cite our quotes:
I beg for justice, which thou, prince, must give;
Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live.
Romeo slew him, he slew Mercutio;
Who now the price of his dear blood doth owe?
Not Romeo, prince, he was Mercutio's friend;
His fault concludes but what the law should end,
The life of Tybalt.
And for that offence
Immediately we do exile him hence:
I have an interest in your hate's proceeding,
My blood for your rude brawls doth lie a-bleeding;
But I'll amerce you with so strong a fine
That you shall all repent the loss of mine:
I will be deaf to pleading and excuses;
Nor tears nor prayers shall purchase out abuses:
Therefore use none: let Romeo hence in haste,
Else, when he's found, that hour is his last.
Bear hence this body and attend our will:
Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill. (3.1.1)
After listening to the Capulets and Montagues bicker about whether or not Romeo should be punished for killing Tybalt in a duel, the Prince decides that Romeo should be "exile[d]" instead of put to death (ostensibly because Tybalt killed Mercutio before Romeo killed Tybalt). We also learn here that, if Romeo is caught within the city walls, he'll be killed. Questions: Do you think the Prince's punishment is fair? Does the Prince's own sense of loss over his dead kinsman (Mercutio is the prince's cousin) influence his judgment?
What storm is this that blows so contrary?
Is Romeo slaughter'd, and is Tybalt dead?
My dear-loved cousin, and my dearer lord?
Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom!
For who is living, if those two are gone?
Tybalt is gone, and Romeo banished;
Romeo that kill'd him, he is banished.
O God! did Romeo's hand shed Tybalt's blood?
It did, it did; alas the day, it did!
O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!
Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!
Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-ravening lamb!
Despised substance of divinest show!
Just opposite to what thou justly seem'st,
A damned saint, an honourable villain!
O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell,
When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend
In moral paradise of such sweet flesh?
Was ever book containing such vile matter
So fairly bound? O that deceit should dwell
In such a gorgeous palace! (3.2.8)
Juliet's initial response to the news that Romeo has been banished for killing Tybalt (Juliet's cousin) is pretty intense, don't you think? Clearly, Juliet is experiencing some mixed emotions – she wonders how the love of her life, the guy she thought was so wonderful, could be a killer. On the one hand, she seems to recoil in disgust at Romeo's heinous act. Yet, at the same time, it's also pretty clear that Juliet still adores Romeo. Her use of oxymoron here gives expression to her turmoil. An "oxymoron," by the way, is the combination of two terms ordinarily seen as opposites. As in, Romeo is a "beautiful tyrant," a "fiend angelical," a "dove-feather'd raven," wolvish-ravening lamb," a "damned saint," and an "honourable villain."
There are also some great examples of paradox in this passage. A "paradox" is a statement that contradicts itself and nonetheless seems true. Example: Juliet asks "Was ever a book containing such vile matter so fairly bound?" We know what you're wondering – how the heck do you tell the difference between an "oxymoron" and a "paradox"? Well, a paradox is different from an oxymoron because it contains contradictory words that are separated by one or more intervening words.
There's no trust,
No faith, no honesty in men; all perjured,
All forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers.
Ah, where's my man? give me some aqua vitae:
These griefs, these woes, these sorrows make me old.
Shame come to Romeo!
Blister'd be thy tongue
For such a wish! he was not born to shame:
Upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit;
For 'tis a throne where honour may be crown'd
Sole monarch of the universal earth.
O, what a beast was I to chide at him!
Will you speak well of him that kill'd your cousin?
Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?
Ah, poor my lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name,
When I, thy three-hours wife, have mangled it?
But, wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?
That villain cousin would have kill'd my husband:
Back, foolish tears, back to your native spring;
Your tributary drops belong to woe,
Which you, mistaking, offer up to joy.
My husband lives, that Tybalt would have slain;
And Tybalt's dead, that would have slain my husband:
All this is comfort; wherefore weep I then?
Some word there was, worser than Tybalt's death,
That murder'd me: I would forget it fain;
But, O, it presses to my memory,
Like damned guilty deeds to sinners' minds:
'Tybalt is dead, and Romeo--banished;'
That 'banished,' that one word 'banished,'
Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts. (3.2.8)
Juliet's anger at Romeo and horror over Tybalt's death (see previous passage) quickly turns to horror over Romeo's banishment. Juliet feels guilty about "mangl[ing]" Romeo's name (speaking ill of him) and she's also not too pleased with the Nurse, who criticizes her new husband. What interests us most about this passage, however, is the way Juliet says that Romeo's exile from Verona is "ten thousand" times worse than her cousin's death. She also suggests that, if she had heard "some word" that Romeo had been killed, it would have "murder'd" her.