Study Guide

Romeo and Juliet Quotes

  • Transience

    Prologue

    CHORUS
    The fearful passage of their death-marked love […]
    Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
    (Prologue.9, 12)

    Well, you can't get much more transient than two hours, right? Love, sex, and death all in about the time it takes to watch an average-length movie.

    Act 1, Scene 5
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    Welcome, gentlemen. I have seen the day
    That I have worn a visor and could tell
    A whispering tale in a fair lady's ear,
    Such as would please. 'Tis gone, 'tis gone, 'tis gone
    (1.5.25-28)

    Lord Capulet's musings about the good ol' days reminds us that youth and love are fleeting. This occurs just before Romeo and Juliet's first meeting, where they fall head over heels in love (at first sight). It seems like Lord Capulet's reminiscence is Shakespeare's way of preparing us for the short-lived (no pun intended) romance between Romeo and Juliet.

    CAPULET
    Nay, sit, nay, sit, good cousin Capulet,
    For you and I are past our dancing days.
    How long is 't now since last yourself and I
    Were in a mask?

    CAPULET'S COUSIN
    By 'r lady, thirty years.

    CAPULET
    What, man, 'tis not so much, 'tis not so much.
    (1.5.35-40)

    Here's a good look into the future: Romeo and Juliet might be in l-o-v-e now, but how would they feel after a decade and a couple of kids? Probably not spouting so much love poetry.

    Act 2, Scene 2
    Juliet

    JULIET
    […] Although I joy in thee,
    I have no joy of this contract tonight.
    It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,
    Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
    Ere one can say 'It lightens.' Sweet, good night.
    This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath,
    May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.
    (2.2.123-129)

    Juliet claims that she's frightened by the sudden power of her and Romeo's love, and she's worried that it will burn itself out. She decides to say goodnight to him to prolong their love until their next meeting. Hmmhmm. Sounds like someone's been reading The Rules.

    Romeo

    ROMEO
    Lady, by yonder blessèd moon I vow
    That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops—
    JULIET
    O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon,
    That monthly changes in her circled orb,
    Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.
    (2.2.112-116)

    Juliet's right—much better to swear by the stars, which at least are constant. (If equally cliché.)

    Act 2, Scene 3
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!
    Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,
    So soon forsaken? Young men's love then lies
    Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.
    (2.3.69-72)

    The Friar thinks Romeo's love is meaningless because it is so changeable—just days ago, Romeo was supposedly in love with Rosaline but now he wants to marry Juliet. But that does that automatically mean it's not real this time?

    Act 2, Scene 6
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Here comes the lady. O, so light a foot
    Will ne'er wear out the everlasting flint.
    A lover may bestride the gossamers
    That idles in the wanton summer air,
    And yet not fall, so light is vanity. (2.6.16-20)

    When Juliet rushes into Friar Laurence's cell to marry Romeo, the Friar makes a big deal about the fragility and fleetingness of worldly pleasure (a young lover's "vanity"). But (of course) there's another meaning: Stephen Greenblatt tells us that, when Friar Laurence says Juliet's "light" foot won't "wear out the everlasting flint," he means that she will never "endure or subdue the hard road of life" (source).

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    These violent delights have violent ends
    And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
    Which as they kiss consume. The sweetest honey
    Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
    And in the taste confounds the appetite.
    Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so.
    Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.
    (2.6.9-15)

    The Friar, who is worried about the long-term consequences of Romeo and Juliet's marriage, warns Romeo that his and Juliet's intense passion may end suddenly and violently, like the flash of gunpowder. And, yep: that about sums it up for us.

    Act 3, Scene 5
    Juliet

    JULIET
    Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day.
    It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
    That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.
    Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree.
    Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
    (3.5.1-5)

    Juliet denies the passing of time (made evident by the sunrise and the sound of the morning birds twittering) because she knows that the passing of time means that Romeo's going to have to jet. Brain Snack: this kind of poem is called an "aubade," or "morning song."

    Act 5, Scene 3
    Juliet

    JULIET
    What's here? A cup, closed in my true love's hand?
    Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end.—
    O churl, drunk all, and left no friendly drop
    To help me after! I will kiss thy lips.
    Haply some poison yet doth hang on them,
    To make die with a restorative. (5.3.166-171)

    Juliet thinks suicide will let her be with Romeo forever, which… well, whether or not this is true depends on how you feel about the afterlife.

  • Family

    Prologue

                                      Enter Chorus
    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)

    In the Prologue, the Chorus tells us that Romeo and Juliet is a play about domestic conflict. "Two households" (that would be the Montagues and the Capulets), "both alike in dignity" (of the same social standing) are going to be involved in a rather messy, and uncivil family feud. Keep reading…

    CHORUS
    From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
    A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;
    Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
    Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
    The fearful passage of their death-marked love,
    And the continuance of their parents' rage,
    Which, but their children's end, naught could remove,
    Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
    The which, if you with patient ears attend,
    What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend. (Prologue.5-14)

    Here's a little more background for us: children from the feuding families are going to meet and fall in love, putting an end to their families' strife—in the most tragic way remotely possible.

    Act 2, Scene 2
    Juliet

    JULIET
    How camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
    The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
    And the place death, considering who thou art,
    If any of my kinsmen find thee here. (2.2.67-70)

    When Juliet learns that Romeo has climbed the orchard walls to see her, she worries that her "kinsmen" will break Romeo's legs for sneaking onto the property. Now, we know that this is probably true of Tybalt, Juliet's testosterone-driven cousin who has already threatened to beat up Romeo for showing up at the Capulet ball. But we have to wonder if Juliet's dad would be as angry as Juliet seems to think. (Except that we're pretty sure he wouldn't want a boy sneaking into his daughter's bedroom no matter what.) Earlier, when Tybalt wanted to fight Romeo (1.5), Lord Capulet stopped him and pointed out that Romeo is a pretty good kid. In fact, "Verona brags of him / To be a virtuous and well-governed youth" (1.5.67-68).

    JULIET
    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.
    (2.2.36-39)

    Juliet struggles with the conflict between her feelings for Romeo and her knowledge that he is an enemy of her family. She tries to separate Romeo from his identity as a Montague, and contemplates deserting her family for him. She does not imagine that their love and their families' opposition can be reconciled.

    Pro tip: When Juliet asks "wherefore art thou Romeo," she's not wondering about Romeo's physical location. "Wherefore" means "why" so, Juliet is basically asking why the love of her life has to be Romeo Montague, the son of her family's enemy.

    Act 2, Scene 4
    The Nurse

    NURSE
    Pray
    you, sir, a word. And as I told you, my young lady
    bade me inquire you out. What she bade me say, I will
    keep to myself. But first let me tell you, if you
    should lead her into a fool's paradise, as they say, it
    were a very gross kind of behavior, as they say. For
    the gentlewoman is young; and therefore, if you
    should deal double with her, truly it were an ill
    thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very
    weak dealing. (2.4.165-174)

    Because Romeo and Juliet are convinced that their feuding families will never understand them, they turn to their mentors (Juliet's Nurse and Friar Laurence) for help. Here, the Nurse makes arrangements that help facilitate the young lovers' union. Nice, right? Yes—until Romeo is banished from Verona, and the Nurse tells her to get over it and move on.

    Act 3, Scene 1
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee
    Doth much excuse the appertaining rage
    To such a greeting. Villain am I none.
    Therefore farewell. I see thou know'st me not.
    TYBALT
    Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries
    That thou hast done me. Therefore turn and draw.
    ROMEO
    I do protest I never injured thee
    But love thee better than thou canst devise
    Till thou shalt know the reason of my love.
    And so, good Capulet, which name I tender
    As dearly as my own, be satisfied. (3.1.63-73)

    When Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel, Romeo refuses to fight because he's secretly married to Tybalt's cousin, Juliet. Here, it seems that Romeo's love for his new wife is the most important thing to him. But, after Tybalt kills Romeo's best friend later in the scene, all bets are off.

    ROMEO
    I do protest I never injured thee
    But love thee better than thou canst devise
    Till thou shalt know the reason of my love.
    And so, good Capulet, which name I tender
    As dearly as my own, be satisfied.
    (3.1.69-73)

    When Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel, Romeo refuses to fight because he's secretly married to Tybalt's cousin, Juliet. Here, it seems that Romeo's love for his new wife is the most important thing to him—right up until Tybalt kills Romeo's best friend. Then, the ties of birth family seems to be stronger.

    Act 3, Scene 2
    Juliet

    JULIET
    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 killed 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.
    (3.2.106-118)

    After (briefly) rejecting Romeo for killing her cousin, Juliet is caught between her loyalty to her family and her loyalty to her new husband. She eventually chooses Romeo and confesses that she's relieved her husband wasn't killed in the duel. (Well, duh. She can't have her wedding night with Tybalt, after all.)

    The Nurse

    NURSE
    Shame come to Romeo!
    JULIET
                                           Blistered 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 honor may be crowned
    Sole monarch of the universal Earth.
    O, what a beast was I to chide at him!
    NURSE
    Will you speak well of him that killed your cousin?
    JULIET
    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 killed 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.
    (3.2.98-118)

    After (initially) rejecting Romeo for killing her cousin, Juliet is caught between her loyalty to her family and her loyalty to her new husband. She eventually chooses Romeo and confesses that she's relieved her husband wasn't killed in the duel. If Romeo hadn't killed Tybalt, Tybalt surely would have killed Romeo.

    Act 3, Scene 5
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    But, an you will not wed, I'll pardon you!
    Graze where you will you shall not house with me.
    Look to 't; think on 't. I do not use to jest.
    Thursday is near. Lay hand on heart; advise.
    An you be mine, I'll give you to my friend.
    An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,
    For, by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee,
    Nor what is mine shall never do thee good.
    Trust to 't; bethink you. I'll not be forsworn.
    (3.5.199-207)

    According to Lord Capulet, obedience to the head of the household is a prerequisite for even remaining part of the family. In fact, obeying Lord Capulet is pretty much the definition of being a Capulet—think about the Capulet servants, who are part of the family as long as they swear loyalty to him. This is more Family than family.

    CAPULET
    Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!
    I tell thee what: get thee to church o' Thursday,
    Or never after look me in the face.
    Speak not; reply not; do not answer me.
    My fingers itch.—Wife, we scarce thought us
       blessed
    That God had lent us but this only child,
    But now I see this one is one too much,
    And that we have a curse in having her.
    Out on her, hilding!
    (3.5.166-175)

    Hey, family values! Here, Capulet is freaking out because Juliet is disobeying him. Not only does he call her such delightful names as "young baggage" and "disobedient wretch," he tells her that if she doesn't get herself married on Thursday then he's kicking her out of the house. And, trust us: there are no homeless teen outreach programs in fictional sixteenth-century Verona.

    CAPULET
    God's bread! it makes me mad.
    Day, night, hour, tide, time, work, play,
    Alone, in company, still my care hath been
    To have her matched. And having now provided
    A gentleman of noble parentage,
    Of fair demesnes, youthful, and nobly ligned,
    Stuffed, as they say, with honorable parts,
    Proportioned as one's thought would wish a man—
    And then to have a wretched puling fool,
    A whining mammet, in her fortune's tender,
    To answer 'I'll not wed. I cannot love.
    I am too young. I pray you, pardon me.'
    But, as you will not wed, I'll pardon you!
    Graze where you will you shall not house with me.
    Look to 't; think on 't. I do not use to jest.
    Thursday is near. Lay hand on heart, advise.
    An you be mine, I'll give you to my friend.
    And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,
    For, by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee,
    Nor what is mine shall never do thee good.
    Trust to 't; bethink you. I'll not be forsworn.
    (3.5.187-207)

    According to Lord Capulet, obedience to the head of the household is a prerequisite for even remaining part of the family.

    Act 4, Scene 2
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    How now, my headstrong, where have you been
       gadding?

    JULIET
    Where I have learned me to repent the sin
    Of disobedient opposition
    To you and your behests, and am enjoined
    By holy Laurence to fall prostrate here              Kneeling.
    And beg your pardon. Pardon, I beseech you.
    Henceforward I am ever ruled by you.
    (4.2.16-23)

    Juliet tells her father what he wants to hear: that she will be obedient and do what he wants her to do. She even lies that she's been off at Friar Laurence's cell, confessing her sins (being a disobedient daughter). The thing is, Juliet now has a new master: her husband. She's obeying her husband by disobeying her father, which is exactly what she should be doing.

  • Hate

    Prologue

                                    Enter Chorus.
    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.
    From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
    A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;
    Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
    Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
    The fearful passage of their death-marked love
    And the continuance of their parents' rage,
    Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
    Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
    (Prologue.1-12)

    Think of this like a mini-reading guide: here, Shakespeare (or the Chorus) tells us up front that, over the course of the play, "two households," or families in Verona, are going to get caught up (again) in a long standing feud, or "ancient grudge." Not only that, but things are going to get "blood[y]" when their children (the kids who came from their parents' "fatal loins") fall in love and then later "take their life." We also know that the deaths of the two "star-crossed lovers" will put an end to their families' hatred. In just a few lines, Shakespeare lays out the plot and a few of the major themes—done and done.

    Act 1, Scene 1
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    O me! What fray was here?
    Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.
    Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.
    Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,
    O anything of nothing first create!
    O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
    Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
    Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,
    Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
    This love feel I, that feel no love in this.
    Dost thou not laugh?
    (1.1.178-188)

    Romeo is a bit of a drama queen when he spots blood from the recent street brawl between the Capulet and Montague servants. He dizzies himself here by relating the extremes of hate and love. We should also point out that the phrases, "O brawling love! O loving hate!", are perfect examples of "oxymoron." An "oxymoron," by the way, is the combination of two terms ordinarily seen as opposites. Keep your eyes open for these because Shakespeare uses a lot of them in the play.

    ABRAHAM
    Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

    SAMPSON
    I do bite my thumb, sir.

    ABRAHAM
    Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

    SAMPSON, aside to Gregory
     Is the law of our side, if I
    say "Ay"?

    GREGORY, aside to Sampson
    No.

    SAMPSON
    No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir,
    but I bite my thumb, sir. (1.1.45-52)

    Okay, what is going on here? Basically, thumb biting, which involves biting and then flicking one's thumb from behind the upper teeth, is a Shakespearean version of flipping someone the bird. Now, Sampson (a Capulet servant) doesn't have a good reason to insult the Montagues' servants—he's just looking to stir up trouble because his masters are feuding with the Montagues, but probably more because he's bored. Plus, Sampson's too much of a coward to own up to his silly gesture because the "law" won't be on his "side" if his thumb biting causes a big old brawl (he doesn't want to get busted for causing a fracas). What's the point of all this? Well, the Capulet/Montague feud, which has obviously trickled down to involve their servants, is completely absurd. Just like Sampson's thumb biting.

    The Prince of Verona

    PRINCE
    What, ho! You men, you beasts,
    That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
    With purple fountains issuing from your veins:
    On pain of torture, from those bloody hands
    Throw your mistempered weapons to the ground, […]
    Three civil brawls bred of an airy word
    By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
    Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets
    And made Verona's ancient citizens
    Cast by their grave-beseeming ornaments
    To wield old partisans in hands as old,
    Cankered with peace, to part your cankered hate
    (1.1.85-89; 91-97)

    When the Prince calls the Capulets and Montagues a bunch of "beasts," he implies that their hatred doesn't seem to have any rational cause – it is simply the result of passions they refuse to restrain. We also notice that there's never any real explanation of what caused the feud or why it even continues. The only thing we know is that there have been three big street fights that have "disturb'd the quiet of [the] streets" in Verona. The Prince's solution to all of this violence? Any man caught brawling in the future will be sentenced to "death."

    Brain Snack: In West Side Story, an award winning musical adaptation of Shakespeare's play, the Capulet/Montague feud is turned into a racially motivated rivalry between two 1950s street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.

    Act 1, Scene 5
    Juliet

    JULIET
    My only love sprung from my only hate!
    Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
    Prodigious birth of love it is to me
    That I must love a loathèd enemy.
    (1.5.152-155)

    Juliet is devastated when she learns that her "only love" (that would be Romeo) has "sprung from [her] only hate" (is the son of her family's only enemies, the Montagues). Romeo's response to the news that Juliet is a Capulet is pretty similar. He says "O dear account! My life is my foe's debt!" (1.5.8). But are they both just overreacting? In an earlier passage, we heard Juliet's dad say that Romeo is a nice kid. Early on in the play, Capulet also says that he's too old too keep on feuding with the Montagues (1.2.1).

    Tybalt Capulet

    TYBALT
    Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe,
    A villain that is hither come in spite
    To scorn at our solemnity this night.
    (1.5.69-71)

    Tybalt would never fall in love with Juliet, no matter how pretty she is: hatred turns all his enemies into the equivalent of cartoon villains. He can't see them as individual people or imagine them outside the context of the feud.

    TYBALT
    This, by his voice, should be a Montague.—
    Fetch me my rapier, boy.                             Page exits.
                                            What dares the slave
    Come hither covered with an antic face
    To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?
    Now, by the stock and honor of my kin,
    To strike him dead I hold it not a sin.
    (1.5.61-67)

    When Tybalt discovers that Romeo has crashed the Capulet's party, his first response is … to start a sword fight. But Tybalt is easily provoked. Does he really hate the Montagues so much, or does he just love hating as much as Romeo loves loving?

    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    Content thee, gentle coz. Let him alone.
    He bears him like a portly gentleman,
    And, to say truth, Verona brags of him
    To be a virtuous and well-governed youth.
    I would not for the wealth of all the town
    Here in my house do him disparagement.
    Therefore be patient. Take no note of him.
    It is my will, the which if thou respect,
    Show a fair presence and put off these frowns,
    And ill-beseeming semblance for a feast.
    (1.5.74-83)

    Now, this is interesting. Tybalt's first response to seeing Romeo at the Capulet party is to kill him. But head honcho Capulet himself (Juliet's dad) doesn't seem to mind that a Montague is in his home. In fact, Capulet says that Romeo is basically a nice kid so Tybalt should just calm down and leave him alone. Does this mean that the big Capulet/Montague feud isn't as big a deal as everybody thinks it is? It seems like the family drama is much more important to the younger generation (Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet) than it is to the older generation.

    Act 2, Scene 3
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    But come, young waverer, come, go with me.
    In one respect I'll thy assistant be,
    For this alliance may so happy prove
    To turn your households' rancor to pure love.
    (2.3.96-99)

    Friar Laurence doesn't believe that Romeo's love for Juliet is authentic (especially since Romeo was "in love" with Rosaline about two seconds ago), but he agrees to marry them anyway. What gives? Well, the Friar believes that a marriage between a young Capulet and a young Montague might be able to put an end to the long-standing family feud. Pretty conniving, don't you think?

    Act 3, Scene 1
    Tybalt Capulet

    TYBALT
    Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford
    No better term than this: thou art a villain.
    ROMEO
    Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee
    Doth much excuse the appertaining rage
    To such a greeting. Villain am I none.
    Therefore farewell. I see thou know'st me not.
    TYBALT
    Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries
    That thou hast done me. Therefore turn and draw.
    ROMEO
    I do protest I never injured thee
    But love thee better than thou canst devise
    Till thou shalt know the reason of my love.
    And so, good Capulet, which name I tender
    As dearly as my own, be satisfied.
    MERCUTIO
    O calm, dishonorable, vile submission!
    (3.1.61-74)

    Romeo refuses to fight Tybalt because he's just married to Juliet, Tybalt's cousin. According to Tybalt, Romeo has "dishonour[ed]" himself by refusing to fight. Basically, Tybalt is calling Romeo a sissy. You can read more about how the play associates violence with masculinity by checking out our "Character Analysis" of Romeo, or by reading "Quotes" for "Gender."

    TYBALT
    Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries
    That thou hast done me. Therefore turn and draw.

    ROMEO
    I do protest, I never injured thee
    But love thee better than thou canst devise
    Till thou shalt know the reason of my love.
    And so, good Capulet, which name I tender
    As dearly as my own, be satisfied.

    MERCUTIO
    O calm, dishonorable, vile submission!
    (3.1.67-74)

    Romeo refuses to fight Tybalt because he's just married to Juliet, Tybalt's cousin. According to Tybalt, Romeo has "dishonour[ed]" himself by refusing to fight. Basically, both Tybalt and Mercutio are calling Romeo a sissy—which makes the tragedy much more about dumb ideas of masculinity than about a dumb feud. You can read more about how the play associates violence with masculinity by checking out our "Character Analysis" of Romeo, or by reading "Quotes" for "Gender."

    Benvolio Montague

    BENVOLIO
    I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire.
    The day is hot, the Capels abroad,
    And if we meet we shall not 'scape a brawl,
    For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.
    (3.1.1-4)

    Benvolio, who always seems to play the role of peacekeeper in the play, wisely notes that a "brawl" will be inevitable if they meet up with the Capulets. According to Benvolio, violence is always inflamed by the summer's heat.

    We interrupt this program for a brain snack: rates of violence increase during periods of hot weather source (source). Thank goodness for air-conditioning.

    Act 3, Scene 3
    Romeo

    ROMEO, rising up
    Spakest thou of Juliet? How is it with her?
    Doth she not think me an old murderer,
    Now I have stained the childhood of our joy
    With blood removed but little from her own?
    Where is she? And how doth she? And what says
    My concealed lady to our cancelled love?
    (3.3.101-106)

    Romeo worries that his murder of Tybalt, an act of hatred, may have destroyed Juliet's love for him.

    PRINCE
    Where be these enemies?—Capulet, Montague,
    See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
    That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
    And I for winking at your discords too,
    Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punished.
    (5.3.301-305)

    There's a lot going on here. Translated, the Prince is just pointing out that the feuding has caused some truly unnecessary deaths. But we're kind of stuck on that word "brace." "Brace" in this context means "pair," but it has associations with game and hunting—like, you'd shoot a "brace" of pigeons, or ducks, or rabbits, or whatever creature you were after. So, it's oddly dehumanizing, at least to modern ears. And then there's the fact that both Romeo and Juliet seem to be related to the Prince—he calls them a "brace" of kinsmen. How could the families hate each other so much, if they have relatives (high-ranking relatives) in common?

  • Fate and Free Will

    Prologue

                                     Enter Chorus
    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.
    From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
    A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
    Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
    Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
    The fearful passage of their death-marked love,
    And the continuance of their parents' rage,
    Which, but their children's end, naught could remove,
    Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
    The which if you with patient ears attend,
    What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend. (Prologue.1-14)

    Just before Romeo heads over to the Capulet ball, where he falls in love with and meets (in that order) Juliet, he tells us that he has a funny feeling—like something "hanging in the stars" (something destined to happen) will get moving. Uh-oh. We have a feeling, too—a bad feeling.

    Act 1, Scene 4
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    I fear, too early, for my mind misgives
    Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
    Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
    With this night's revels, and expire the term
    Of a despisèd life closed in my breast
    By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
    (1.4.113-118)

    Just before Romeo heads over to the Capulet ball, where he falls in love with and meets (in that order) Juliet, he tells us that he has a funny felling – he fears that something "hanging in the stars" (something destined to happen) will be set in motion that night. Romeo's premonition seems to be in keeping with what the Chorus tells us in the Prologue (see above quote).

    Act 1, Scene 5
    Juliet

    JULIET (gesturing towards Romeo)
    What's he that follows here, that would not dance?
    NURSE
    I know not.
    JULIET
    Go ask his name. The Nurse goes. If he be marrièd.
    My grave is like to be my wedding bed.
    (1.5.146-149)

    Juliet foreshadows her own death – her grave does become her wedding bed.

    Act 3, Scene 1
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    O, I am fortune's fool!
    (3.1.142)

    Immediately after he kills Tybalt in a duel, Romeo declares he is "fortune's fool." This seems to suggest that fate or "fortune" is responsible for Tybalt's death, not Romeo. But, really? Should we let Romeo off the hook for fighting and killing Tybalt, or should we hold Romeo responsible for his actions? Isn't this a little like a teenager yelling that everyone hates him and slamming his bedroom door?

    Act 3, Scene 5
    Juliet

    JULIET
    O, think'st thou we shall ever meet again?

    ROMEO
    I doubt it not; and all these woes shall serve
    For sweet discourses in our time to come.

    JULIET
    O God, I have an ill-divining soul!
    Methinks I see thee, now thou art below,
    As one dead in the bottom of a tomb.
    Either my eyesight fails or thou look'st pale.
    (3.5.51-57)

    When Juliet says she has "an ill-diving soul," she means that she has a premonition of Romeo's death. This, of course, foreshadows how she will see Romeo for the last time: with her in her tomb (5.3). (Tip: try thinking positive thoughts, Jules!)

    Act 5, Scene 1
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    Is it e'en so?—Then I defy you, stars!—
    (5.1.25)

    When Romeo hears from Balthasar that Juliet is dead (well, fake-dead), he declares "I defy you, stars!" True, he does have a plan to make sure that he and Juliet end up together despite the stars. Too bad it involves suicide.

    Act 5, Scene 2
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Who bare my letter, then, to Romeo?

    FRIAR JOHN
    I could not send it—here it is again—
                                                            Returning the letter. 
    Nor get a messenger to bring it thee,
    So fearful were they of infection.

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Unhappy fortune!
    (5.2.13-17)

    Friar Laurence blames "unhappy fortune" for preventing Romeo from receiving a letter explaining that Juliet isn't really dead. (We usually blame AT&T, but that's just us.)

    Act 5, Scene 3
    Romeo

    ROMEO (to Juliet in the tomb)
    I still will stay with thee
    And never from this palace of dim night
    Depart again. Here, here will I remain
    With worms that are thy chambermaids. O, here
    Will I set up my everlasting rest
    And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
    From this world-wearied flesh!
    (5.3.106-112)

    Poor, dumb Romeo. He's convinced that he'll one-up the "stars" by killing himself, thus ensuring that he spends 4EVA with Juliet. But, in fact, taking fate into his own hands just means he ends up killing himself for nothing—and ensuring that Juliet dies for hear. If you're looking for textual evidence that Romeo brings about his own "fate" (by making a decision (of his own free will) to kill himself, then this is the passage for you.

    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Romeo! O, pale! Who else? What, Paris too?
    And steeped in blood? Ah, what an unkind hour
    Is guilty of this lamentable chance!
    (5.3.148-151)

    There's a lot of finger-pointing in Romeo and Juliet, but we get the feeling that none of the fingers are pointed in the right direction. Here, instead of, you know, taking some of the blame on himself, Friar Laurence just blames "fate."

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    I hear some noise.—Lady, come from that nest
    Of death, contagion, and unnatural sleep.
    A greater power than we can contradict
    Hath thwarted our intents.
    (5.3.156-159)

    When Juliet awakens and finds Romeo dead, the Friar tells Juliet that a "higher power"—either God or fate—has ruined their plans. Hm. It seems like the Friar doesn't want to take any responsibility for the part he played in the couple's tragedy. After all, Friar Laurence (a grown man who ought to know better) is the one who (1) facilitated the secret marriage, and then (2) came up with the idea for Juliet to drink the sleeping potion that would make everyone think she was dead. We're pretty sure that, when the Prince says that some will be "punished," he's looking straight at this guy.

    Juliet

    JULIET
    O Fortune, Fortune! All men call thee fickle.
    If thou art fickle, what dost thou with him
    That is renowned for faith? Be fickle, Fortune.
    For then I hope thou wilt not keep him long,
    But send him back.
    (3.5.60-64)

    Juliet feels pretty helpless when she says goodbye to her new husband, Romeo, after the couple's one and only night together. Fortune (or Dame Fortuna, goddess of fortune and fate) is often portrayed as a "fickle" (unpredictable and unreliable) goddess because she could raise men up to great heights or cast them down at any moment with the spin of her wheel (a.k.a. the wheel of fortune). Juliet begs "fortune" to be kind to Romeo and reasons that since Romeo is so "faith[ful]" (as in not fickle or unreliable), then "fickle" fortune should want nothing to do with him. Sure—seems like sound logic to us.

  • Love

    Act 1, Scene 1
    Benvolio Montague

    BENVOLIO
    […] What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours?

    ROMEO
    Not having that, which, having, makes them short.

    BENVOLIO
    In love?

    ROMEO
    Out—

    BENVOLIO
    Of love?

    ROMEO
    Out of her favor, where I am in love.
    (1.1.168-173)

    Way to be totally emo and enigmatic, Romeo. Here's he's completely infatuated with Rosaline. When he's not daydreaming about Rosaline in his room, He's moping around in a grove of "sycamore" trees, where those who are sick amour (sick with love) tend to hang out (1.1). The thing is, Rosaline has absolutely no interest in Romeo, but he pursues her anyway. Maybe he's not in love with Rosaline as he is obsessed with the idea of being in love—

    Romeo

    ROMEO
    Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
    Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes;
    Being vexed a sea nourish'd with loving tears:
    What is it else? a madness most discreet,
    A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.
    (1.1.197-201)

    These are pretty big words coming from a teenager. All this abstract language—love as "smoke," as "fire," as a "sea," as "madness"—suggest that maybe Romeo knows more about love from books than, you know, actually being in love.

    ROMEO
    Well, in that hit you miss. She'll not be hit
    With Cupid's arrow. She hath Dian's wit,
    And, in strong proof of chastity well armed,
    From love's weak childish bow she lives unharmed.
    She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
    Nor bide th' encounter of assailing eyes,
    Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold.
    […]
    BENVOLIO
    Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?
    (1.1.216-222; 225)

    Romeo admits that Rosaline has vowed to remain "chaste" like "Diana," the goddess of virginity and hunting. In other words, Rosaline has sworn off boys and sex, which means that Romeo has no chance of winning her heart. What's interesting about this passage is that Romeo sounds a whole lot like a typical "Petrarchan lover." Petrarch, by the way, was a fourteenth-century Italian poet whose sonnets were all the rage in Renaissance England. In fact, Shakespeare's own collection of Sonnets are, in part, inspired by Petrarch's love poetry, which was written about "Laura," a figure who was as unavailable and unattainable as Romeo's current crush (Rosaline). Petrarchan poetry happens to contain a lot of metaphors that equate the pursuit of love with hunting and/or battle. In this passage, Romeo says that Rosaline is well "arm'd" against the "siege" of his love and "Cupid's arrow," which is an elaborate way to say that Rosaline is physically and emotionally impenetrable.

    Act 1, Scene 2
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    When the devout religion of mine eye
    Maintains such falsehood, then turn tears to fire;
    And these who, often drowned, could never die,
    Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars.
    One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun
    Ne'er saw her match since first the world begun.
    (1.2.95-100)

    Romeo uses religious language to talk about Rosaline

    Act 1, Scene 4
    Mercutio

    MERCUTIO
    You are a lover. Borrow Cupid's wings
    And soar with them above a common bound
    ROMEO
    I am too sore enpiercèd with his shaft
    To soar with his light feathers, and so bound,
    I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe.
    Under love's heavy burden do I sink.
    MERCUTIO
    And to sink in it should you burden love—
    Too great oppression for a tender thing.
    ROMEO
    Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,
    Too rude, too boist'rous, and it pricks like thorn.
    MERCUTIO
    If love be rough with you, be rough with love.
    Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.
    (1.4.17-28)

    Romeo and Mercutio describe love in violent and painful terms.

    Act 1, Scene 5
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
    It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
    Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear—
    Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.
    So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows
    As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows.
    The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand
    And, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.
    Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight,
    For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.
    (1.5.51-60)

    Hmm, this is interesting. Romeo forgets all about his "love" for Rosaline the exactly second he sees Juliet, which makes us think that he was never really in love with Rosaline to begin with. But does this also mean that Romeo's desire for Juliet is nothing more than meaningless infatuation?

    ROMEO
    If I profane with my unworthiest hand
    This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
    My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
    To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
    JULIET
    Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
    Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
    For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
    And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.
    ROMEO
    Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
    JULIET
    Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
    ROMEO
    O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do.
    They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
    JULIET
    Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.
    ROMEO
    Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take.
                                                                        He kisses her.
    Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged.
    JULIET
    Then have my lips the sin that they have took.
    ROMEO
    Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
    Give me my sin again.                                He kisses her.
    JULIET
    You kiss by th' book.
    (1.5.104-122)

    This is one of the most famous passages in the entire play, so let's take a close look, shall we? When Romeo and Juliet talk for the first time at the Capulet ball, Romeo uses his best pickup line: touching Juliet's hands and lips, he says, would be a kind of religious experience. (We've heard that before, haven't we? He used to say this kind of stuff about Rosaline.) Angling for a kiss, Romeo refers to his lips as a two "pilgrims" that would worship at a holy "shrine" (that would be Juliet's lips). A pilgrim, by the way, is a person on a religious pilgrimage to a holy place. Pilgrims were also called "palmers" because they often carried palm leaves on their journeys.

    In response, Juliet teasingly puns on the word "palmer" to suggest that touching hands, "palm to palm," is like kissing (so Romeo, presumably, should be content with touching her hands instead of making out). But Romeo refuses to be shot down. Instead of walking away with his tail between his legs, he uses Juliet's hands=lips logic to argue that kissing the lips of Juliet (who has reached "saint" status by this point) would be just like praying, which involves placing ones palms together. Juliet seems playfully willing to go along with all this and allows Romeo to kiss her.

    What's interesting is that, before Romeo can lock lips for a second time, Juliet says "you kiss by the book," which suggests that all of Romeo's moves (his pickup lines and even the way he kisses) are a bit scripted and cliché. So, Juliet's clearly smitten with Romeo but she also recognizes that Romeo isn't exactly original.

    At the same time, however, the dialogue between Romeo and Juliet takes the form of a sonnet (up to the point where they kiss), which is incredibly romantic. So, while Romeo's moves are a bit predictable, we can also recognize that Romeo and Juliet's romance has the potential to be anything but conventional.

    Juliet

    JULIET
    My only love sprung from my only hate!
    Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
    Prodigious birth of love it is to me
    That I must love a loathèd enemy.
    (1.5.152-155)

    Apparently, Juliet never even considers the obvious conclusion: don't date your family's archnemesis. That makes "love" sound a lot like "fate"—something you couldn't escape even if you wanted to.

    Act 2, Scene 2
    Juliet

    JULIET
    I have forgot why I did call thee back.

    ROMEO
    Let me stand here till thou remember it.

    JULIET
    I shall forget, to have thee still stand there,
    Rememb'ring how I love thy company.

    ROMEO
    And I'll still stay, to have thee still forget,
    Forgetting any other home but this.
    (2.2.184-189)

    Translation: "You hang up." "No, you hang up." "No, you hang up." "Okay, I'm going." "Are you still there?" (Do kids these days even have these conversations anymore? Or is it all texting and gChat? Someone clue us in; we're old.)

    JULIET
    Do not swear at all.
    Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,
    Which is the god of my idolatry,
    And I'll believe thee.
    (2.2.118-121)

    Is it just us or is Juliet beginning to sound like Romeo. Here, she uses the language of religion to describe her love for Romeo. Check out "Symbols" for more on this.

    JULIET
    Well, do not swear. Although I joy in thee,
    I have no joy of this contract tonight.
    It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,
    Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
    Ere one can say 'It lightens.' Sweet, good night.
    This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath,
    May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.
    Good night, good night. As sweet repose and rest
    Come to thy heart as that within my breast. (2.2.123-131)

    Juliet is certain that she loves Romeo but she's also a bit cautious because her love seems "too rash, too unadvised, too sudden." So, while Juliet is clearly a very passionate girl, she's also pretty smart and realizes that head-over-heels passion can be dangerous.

    JULIET
    How camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
    The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
    And the place death, considering who thou art,
    If any of my kinsmen find thee here.
    ROMEO
    With love's light wings did I o'er-perch these walls;
    For stony limits cannot hold love out,
    And what love can do that dares love attempt.
    Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me.
    JULIET
    If they do see thee, they will murder thee.
    ROMEO
    Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye
    Than twenty of their swords: look thou but sweet,
    And I am proof against their enmity.
    JULIET
    I would not for the world they saw thee here.
    ROMEO
    I have night's cloak to hide me from their eyes.
    And, but thou love me, let them find me here.
    My life were better ended by their hate
    Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love.
    JULIET
    By whose direction found'st thou out this place?
    ROMEO
    By love, who first did prompt me to inquire.
    He lent me counsel and I lent him eyes.
    I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as far
    As that vast shore wash'd with the farthest sea,
    I would adventure for such merchandise.
    (2.2.67-89)

    Romeo is eager to prove to Juliet that he loves her, while Juliet – despite the confession that Romeo overhears – is hesitant to reveal that she likes him right away.

    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!
    Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,
    So soon forsaken? Young men's love then lies
    Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.
    (2.2.69-72)

    Friar Laurence makes a convincing argument that Romeo's love for Juliet could nothing more than a crush. Just days ago Romeo was crying his eyes out over another woman, the unattainable Rosaline. Now, the "salt water" tears haven't even dried yet and he's talking about a new love interest.

    Okay, Friar Laurence has good reason to be skeptical of Romeo's newfound "love." But, if he's so skeptical of the relationship, why does he agree to secretly marry the young couple? Well, he tells us: "For this alliance may so happy prove/ To turn your households' rancour to pure love" (2.3.87-88).

    In other words, Friar Laurence is crossing his fingers a union between Romeo and Juliet will force the feuding families to reconcile. But good intentions aren't enough. His meddling may not be solely responsible for the tragedy, but it's at least partly responsible. At the same time, Romeo and Juliet's love does eventually bring the two families together—but only after a double suicide.

    Romeo

    ROMEO
    With love's light wings did I o'erperch these walls,
    For stony limits cannot hold love out,
    And what love can do that dares love attempt.
    Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me.
    (2.2.71-74)

    We hear an echo of the Biblical Song of Songs here: "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it." Romeo just won't let up with the religious allusions—for him, love is a religious experience. (But not in the cliché way, he swears.)

    ROMEO
    But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
    It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
    Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
    Who is already sick and pale with grief
    That thou her maid art far more fair than she.
    Be not her maid, since she is envious.
    Her vestal livery is but sick and green
    And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off.
    (2.2.2-9)

    In this monologue, Romeo elevates Juliet to heavenly status by aligning her with the "sun" and the "stars." Sure, he's still working with some celestial metaphors—but at least it's starting to get slightly less abstract. He even mentions her name!

    ROMEO, aside
    She speaks.
    O, speak again, bright angel, for thou art
    As glorious to this night, being o'er my head,
    As is a wingèd messenger of heaven
    Unto the white-upturnèd wond'ring eyes
    Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him
    When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds
    And sails upon the bosom of the air.
    (2.2.28-35)

    Again, Romeo uses over-the-top religious language to describe the experience of looking at Juliet but we get the sense that he's sincere and deeply in love.

    Act 2, Scene 6
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    Ah, Juliet, if the measure of thy joy
    Be heaped like mine, and that thy skill be more
    To blazon it, then sweeten with thy breath
    This neighbor air, and let rich music's tongue
    Unfold the imagined happiness that both
    Receive in either by this dear encounter.
    JULIET
    Conceit, more rich in matter than in words,
    Brags of his substance, not of ornament.
    They are but beggars that can count their worth,
    But my true love is grown to such excess
    I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth.
    (2.6.24-34)

    Romeo asks Juliet to use language to express the love that they feel for each other, but Juliet tells him that's the wrong approach. The love they share has grown so great that they can no longer express it. (A similar idea occurs in King Lear, when Cordelia refuses to quantify her love for her father and says that language is not capable of expressing her devotion.)

    Act 3, Scene 2
    Juliet

    JULIET .
    Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
    By their own beauties, or, if love be blind,
    It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,
    Thou sober-suited matron all in black,
    And learn me how to lose a winning match
    Played for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.
    Hood my unmanned blood, bating in my cheeks,
    With thy black mantle till strange love grown bold,
    Think true love acted simple modesty.
    (3.2.8-16)

    Talk about wedding-night jitters: this is Juliet getting all excited and nervous about having sex for the very first time, i.e. "losing" her "stainless maidenhoods." "Unmann'd blood"—get it?

    JULIET
    Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
    Towards Phoebus' lodging. Such a wagoner
    As Phaëthon would whip you to the west
    And bring in cloudy night immediately.
    Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
    That runaway's eyes may wink, and Romeo
    Leap to these arms, untalked of and unseen.
    Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
    By their own beauties, or, if love be blind,
    It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,
    Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
    And learn me how to lose a winning match
    Played for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.
    Hood my unmann'd blood, bating in my cheeks,
    With thy black mantle till strange love grown bold,
    Think true love acted simple modesty.
    Come, night. Come, Romeo. Come, thou day in
       night.
    For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
    Whiter than new snow on a raven's back.
    Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed
       night,
    Give me my Romeo, and when he shall die,
    Take him and cut him out in little stars,
    And he will make the face of heaven so fine
    That all the world will be in love with night
    And pay no worship to the garish sun.
    O, I have bought the mansion of a love
    But not possessed it, and, though I am sold,
    Not yet enjoyed. So tedious is this day
    As is the night before some festival
    To an impatient child that hath new robes
    And may not wear them.
    (3.2.1-33)

    Juliet is both excited and nervous about losing her virginity. She feels that her love for Romeo is so strong that it could overpower the sun.

    Act 4, Scene 1
    Juliet

    JULIET
    O, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris,
    From off the battlements of yonder tower,
    Or walk in thievish ways, or bid me lurk
    Where serpents are. Chain me with roaring bears;
    Or shut me nightly in a charnel house,
    O'ercovered quite with dead men's rattling bones,
    With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls.
    Or bid me go into a new-made grave
    And hide me with a dead man in his shroud
    (Things that, to hear them told, have made me
       tremble),
    And I will do it without fear or doubt,
    To live an unstained wife to my sweet love.
    (4.1.78-90)

    All the things that used to frighten Juliet are now unimportant compared to the horror of betraying Romeo and marrying another man.

    Act 5, Scene 3
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    O brother Montague, give me thy hand.
    This is my daughter's jointure, for no more
    Can I demand.
    MONTAGUE
    But I can give thee more,
    For I will raise her statue in pure gold,
    That while Verona by that name is known,
    There shall no figure at such rate be set
    As that of true and faithful Juliet.
    CAPULET
    As rich shall Romeo's by his lady's lie;
    Poor sacrifices of our enmity. (5.3.306-315)

    After Romeo and Juliet are found dead, Montague offers to erect a "statue" of "pure gold" in Juliet's honor and Capulet promise to do the same for his dead son-in-law, Romeo. Although the young lovers' deaths unite the warring families and put an end to the feud (just as the Chorus promised back in the first Prologue), the efforts of the Capulets and the Montagues are a day late and a dollar short.

    Romeo

    ROMEO
    How oft when men are at the point of death
    Have they been merry, which their keepers call
    A light'ning before death! O, how may I
    Call this a light'ning?—O my love! my wife,
    Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath,
    Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty.
    Thou art not conquered. Beauty's ensign yet
    Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
    And death's pale flag is not advancèd there.—
    Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet?
    O, what more favor can I do to thee,
    Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain
    To sunder his that was thine enemy?
    Forgive me, cousin—Ah, dear Juliet,
    Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe
    That unsubstantial death is amorous,
    And that the lean abhorred monster keeps
    Thee here in dark to be his paramour?
    For fear of that, I still will stay with thee
    And never from this palace of dim night
    Depart again. Here, here will I remain
    With worms that are thy chamber-maids. O, here
    Will I set up my everlasting rest,
    And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
    From this world-wearied flesh! Eyes, look your last.
    Arms, take your last embrace. And, lips, O, you
    The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
    A dateless bargain to engrossing death.
                                                                       Kissing Juliet
    Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide!
    Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
    The dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark!
    Here's to my love! Drinking. O true apothecary,
    Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.
    (5.3.88-120)

    Death becomes an act of love for Romeo, because he thinks that suicide will enable him to be with Juliet (he thinks she's dead). Check out "Symbols" for more on this.

    Lady Capulet

    LADY CAPULET
    Well, girl, thou weep'st not so much for his death
    As that the villain lives which slaughtered him.
    JULIET
    What villain, madam?
    LADY CAPULET
    That same villain, Romeo.
    JULIET, aside 
    Villain and he be many miles asunder.—
    God Pardon him. I do, with all my heart,
    And yet no man like he doth grieve my heart.
    LADY CAPULET
    That is because the traitor murderer lives.
    JULIET
    Ay, madam, from the reach of these my hands.
    Would none but I might venge my cousin's death!
    LADY CAPULET
    We will have vengeance for it, fear thou not.
    Then weep no more. I'll send to one in Mantua,
    Where that same banished runagate doth live,
    Shall give him such an unaccustomed dram
    That he shall soon keep Tybalt company.
    And then, I hope, thou wilt be satisfied.
    JULIET
    Indeed, I never shall be satisfied
    With Romeo, till I behold him—dead—
    Is my poor heart for a kinsman vexed.
    Madam, if you could find out but a man
    To bear a poison, I would temper it,
    That Romeo should, upon receipt thereof,
    Soon sleep in quiet. O, how my heart abhors
    To hear him named and cannot come to him
    To wreak the love I bore my cousin
    Upon his body that slaughtered him.
    (3.5.82-107)

    Juliet cannot tell her mother about her true feelings for Romeo, so she expresses her feelings in veiled language that makes her mother believe she hates him.

    MERCUTIO
    Why, is not this better now than groaning
    for love? Now art thou sociable, now art thou
    Romeo, now art thou what thou art, by art as well as
    by nature. For this driveling love is like a great
    natural, that runs lolling up and down to hide his
    bauble in a hole.
    (2.4.90-95)

    To Mercutio, love is ridiculous and gets in the way of real life. Not only that, but Romeo's passion for Rosaline has alienated him from his friends.

    PARIS
    These times of woe afford no time to woo.—
    (3.4.8)

    After Tybalt dies, Paris is more bummed out that he doesn't have time to make nice with Juliet than that this young man has died. Gee, he sounds awfully passionate. (Not.)

  • Gender

    Act 1, Scene 1

    GREGORY
    I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it
    as they list.

    SAMPSON
    Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at
    them, which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.
    (1.1.41-44)

    Oh no he did not: this is basically the equivalent of flipping someone the bird while sticking out your tongue. So, the Capulets are being insulting and childish all at the same time—but if the Montagues don't get offended (if they "bear" it), then they're the ones who'll be disgraced. Seems a little backward to us.

    SAMPSON
    My naked weapon is out. Quarrel, I will back
    thee.
    (1.1.34-35)

    Physical violence is equated with forceful sexuality, and both are proof of manliness.

    GREGORY [House of Capulet]
    Do you quarrel, sir?

    ABRAHAM [House of Montague]
    Quarrel sir?  No, sir.

    SAMPSON [House of Capulet]
    But if you do, sir, I am for you. I serve as
    good a man as you.

    ABRAHAM [House of Montague]
    No better.

    SAMPSON [House of Capulet]
    Well, sir.

    GREGORY, aside to Sampson [House of Capulet]
    Say 'better'; here comes
    one of my master's kinsmen.

    SAMPSON [House of Capulet]
    Yes, better, sir.

    ABRAHAM [House of Montague]
    You lie.

    SAMPSON [House of Capulet]
    Draw, if you be men.—Gregory, remember
    thy swashing blow.
    (1.1.53-64)

    This argument is about as mature as two kids in the schoolyard arguing about whose dad has a better job. Unfortunately, it's a lot more deadly.

    SAMPSON
    'Tis true; and therefore women, being the
    weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore
    I will push Montague's men from the wall, and
    thrust his maids to the wall.

    GREGORY
    The quarrel is between our masters and us
    their men.

    SAMPSON
    'Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant.
    when I have fought with the men, I will be civil
    with the maids; I will cut off their heads.

    GREGORY
    The heads of the maids?

    SAMPSON
    Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads.
    Take it in what sense thou wilt.
    (1.1.16-27)

    You know what's really manly? Rape and murder. Trust a bunch of hotheaded servants to define masculinity in a really brutal, antisocial way, right?

    Act 1, Scene 2
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    […]
    My child is yet a stranger in the world.
    She hath not seen the change of fourteen years,
    Let two more summers wither in their pride
    Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.

    PARIS
    Younger than she are happy mothers made.
    (1.2.8-12)

    You know what's missing from this friendly little negotiation about marrying off Juliet? Juliet herself. Women (or girls) from wealthy families in Shakespeare's time didn't usually get much say in who they married; marriages were made for the convenience of the families, not the individuals.

    Act 1, Scene 5
    Tybalt Capulet

    TYBALT
    This, by his voice, should be a Montague.—
    Fetch me my rapier, boy.
                                             What dares the slave
    Come hither covered with an antic face
    To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?
    Now, by the stock and honor of my kin,
    To strike him dead, I hold it not a sin.
    (1.5.61-67)

    Tybalt's notion of honour is all bound up in the masculine code of revenge: if he doesn't fight back against the teeniest, tiniest little insult, then his reputation as a man is in danger. Notice how male reputations are all about what they do (fight) and women's are all about what they don't do (have sex)?

    Act 2, Scene 4
    Mercutio

    MERCUTIO
    Why, is not this better now than groaning
    for love? now art thou sociable, now art thou
    Romeo, now  art thou what thou art, by art as well as
    by nature. For this driveling love is like a great
    natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his
    bauble in a hole.
    (2.4.90-95)

    Translation: being in love makes Romeo seem like a "natural," i.e. someone who's mentally challenged, and runs around trying to hide a toy. Hm. Is Mercutio a little jealous of Juliet? Is he worried that she's going to break up the band, Yoko-style?

    Act 3, Scene 1
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    This gentleman, the Prince's near ally,
    My very friend, hath got his mortal hurt
    In my behalf. My reputation stained
    With Tybalt's slander—Tybalt, that an hour
    Hath been my cousin! O sweet Juliet,
    Thy beauty hath made me effeminate
    And in my temper softened valor's steel!
    (3.1.114-120)

    Brain snack: for centuries, "effeminate" didn't just mean that you were acting like a woman; it meant that you liked women too much. And hanging around sucking up to women would make you womanly—just like catching cooties.

    ROMEO
    Alive in triumph, and Mercutio slain!
    Away to heaven, respective lenity,
    And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now.—
    Now, Tybalt, take the 'villain' back again
    That late thou gavest me, for Mercutio's soul
    Is but a little way above our heads,
    Staying for thine to keep him company.
    Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.
    (3.1.127-134)

    Romeo reasserts his masculinity by fighting Tybalt. He also avenges the death of his best friend, which makes us wonder whether or not Juliet is the most important person in Romeo's life.

    Act 3, Scene 3
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Hold thy desperate hand!
    Art thou a man? Thy form cries out thou art.
    Thy tears are womanish; thy wild acts denote
    The unreasonable fury of a beast.
    Unseemly woman in a seeming man,
    Or ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!
    (3.3.118-123)

    In Romeo and Juliet, boys don't cry. Here, the Friar calls Romeo a "womanish" wimp for crying and threatening suicide. Give the guy a break, okay? Not only has he been in and out of love for the past month, he's just found out that he's going to be exiled without even getting to make love to his thirteen-year-old wife. (Heavy sarcasm.)

    The Nurse

    NURSE
    O, he is even in my mistress' case,
    Just in her case. O woeful sympathy!
    Piteous predicament! Even so lies she,
    Blubbering and weeping, weeping and blubb'ring.—
    Stand up, stand up. Stand an you be a man.
    For Juliet's sake, for her sake, rise and stand.
    (3.3.92-97)

    Nice to know some things don't change (not): excessive "weeping and blubbering" was considered just as unmanly in the sixteenth century as it is today.

    Act 3, Scene 5
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!
    I tell thee what: get thee to church o' Thursday,
    Or never after look me in the face.
    Speak not; reply not; do not answer me. (3.5.166-169)

    Juliet's father seriously flips out when Juliet refuses to marry Paris and treats his daughter like a piece of property that he can just give away to another man (Paris). So, what happened to his earlier stance that Juliet should marry for love, when she's ready?

  • Youth

    Act 1, Scene 1
    Lord Capulet

    LORD CAPULET
    What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!

    LADY CAPULET
    A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a
       sword?

                     Enter old Montague and his Wife.

    CAPULET
    My sword, I say! Old Montague is come
    And flourishes his blade in spite of me.

    MONTAGUE
    Thou villain Capulet!—Hold me not, let me go.

    LADY MONTAGUE
    Thou shalt not stir a foot to seek a foe.
    (1.1.76-82)

    Although Lord Montague and Lord Capulet are too old to fight, they want to join the young men in the big brawl on the streets of Verona. Good thing Lady Capulet and Lady Montague hold their husband's back—these guys are way too old to be mixing it up like a couple of heady teenagers.

    Act 1, Scene 2
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    But Montague is bound as well as I,
    In penalty alike, and 'tis not hard, I think,
    For men so old as we to keep the peace.
    (1.2.1-3)

    Now this is more like it. After being lectured by the Prince of Verona, Lord Capulet comes to his senses and acknowledges that he's too old to be caught up in the long-standing family feud. From here on out, Capulet is pretty peaceful. He even stops Tybalt from beating up Romeo at the Capulet ball (1.5).

    CAPULET
    But saying o'er what I have said before.
    My child is yet a stranger in the world.
    She hath not seen the change of fourteen years.
    Let two more summers wither in their pride
    Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.

    PARIS
    Younger than she are happy mothers made.

    CAPULET
    And too soon marred are those so early made. (1.2.7-13)

    When Paris asks for thirteen-year-old Juliet's hand in marriage, Capulet responds (pretty sensibly, if you ask us) that she's way too young to be a "bride." (He also talks about Juliet as though she's a piece of fruit that isn't yet "ripe," which is less sensible and more gross.) The conversation gets even creepier when Paris points out that there are twelve-year-olds who are already mothers. Capulet's reply seems to carry on the Juliet = a piece of unripe fruit metaphor because he implies that Juliet would be "marr'd" (bruised, tainted, ruined, etc.) if she married and had kids so young. Uh, yep. That sounds about right.

    Act 1, Scene 5
    Lord Capulet

    LORD CAPULET
    Nay, sit, nay, sit, good cousin Capulet,
    For you and I are past our dancing days.
    How long is 't now since last yourself and I
    Were in a mask?

    SECOND CAPULET
    By 'r lady, thirty years.

    CAPULET
    What, man, 'tis not so much, 'tis not so much.
    (1.5.35-40)

    Lord Capulet cannot believe it's been thirty years since his high school graduation. It's like, ne day you're the captain of the football team, and the next day you're middle-aged with a couple of disobedient kids and a lot of hot-headed young men trying to get your family killed.

    CAPULET
    Welcome, gentlemen. I have seen the day
    That I have worn a visor and could tell
    A whispering tale in a fair lady's ear,
    Such as would please. 'Tis gone, 'tis gone, 'tis gone.
    (1.5.25-28)

    As Lord Capulet entertains his guests at the ball, he muses about his youth, which he apparently spent chasing after the "fair" ladies. Luckily for all of us, he realizes that he's past his prime now, and contents himself with marrying off his 13-year-old daughter.

    Act 2, Scene 5
    Juliet

    JULIET
    Now is the sun upon the highmost hill
    Of this day's journey, and from nine till twelve
    Is three long hours, yet she is not come.
    Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
    She would be as swift in motion as a ball;
    My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
    And his to me.
    But old folks, many feign as they were dead,
    Unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.
    (2.5.9-17)

    According to Juliet, the older generation (including the "lame" Nurse) is too slow to understand the swift passion of love. It's seems pretty clear that love belongs to the young in Romeo and Juliet—but, come on, isn't this what kids always think? Could Shakespeare really be so naïve?

    JULIET
    The clock struck nine when I did send the Nurse.
    In half an hour she promised to return.
    Perchance she cannot meet him. That's not so.
    O, she is lame! Love's heralds should be thoughts,
    Which ten times faster glide than the sun's beams,
    Driving back shadows over louring hills.
    Therefore do nimble-pinioned doves draw Love,
    And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings.
    Now is the sun upon the highmost hill
    Of this day's journey, and from nine till twelve
    Is three long hours, yet she is not come.
    Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
    She would be as swift in motion as a ball;
    My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
    And his to me.
    But old folks, many feign as they were dead,
    Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead.
    (2.5.1-17)

    According to Juliet, the older generation (including the "lame" Nurse) is too slow to understand the swift passion of love. It's seems pretty clear that love belongs to the young in Romeo and Juliet.

    Act 3, Scene 3
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    Thou canst not speak of that thou dost not feel.
    Wert thou as young as I, Juliet thy love,
    An hour but married, Tybalt murderèd,
    Doting like me and like me banishèd,
    Then mightst thou speak, then mightst thou tear thy
       hair,
    And fall upon the ground, as I do now,
                                                  Romeo throws himself down.
    Taking the measure of an unmade grave.
    (3.3.67-74)

    When the Romeo learns from Friar Laurence that he's been banished from Verona, he flips out and accuses Friar Laurence of being too old to understand this passionate situation. According to Romeo, if Friar Laurence were "young" and in the same situation as Romeo, he'd be "tear[ing] out [his] hair." But, again: isn't this what kids always say? (And if they do, does that make it untrue?)

    Act 3, Scene 5
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    God's bread, it makes me mad.
    Day, night, hour, tide, time, work, play,
    Alone, in company, still my care hath been
    To have her matched. And having now provided
    A gentleman of noble parentage,
    Of fair demesnes, youthful, and nobly ligned,
    Stuffed, as they say, with honorable parts,
    Proportioned as one's thought would wish a man—
    And then to have a wretched puling fool,
    A whining mammet, in her fortune's tender,
    To answer 'I'll not wed. I cannot love,
    I am too young. I pray you, pardon me.'
    But, an you will not wed, I'll pardon you!
    Graze where you will you shall not house with me
    (3.5.187-200)

    When Juliet refuses to marry Paris, Lord Capulet flips his lid. He suggests that young Juliet is a whiny ingrate, threatens to throw her out of the house, and then mocks her for pleading that she is "too young" to wed Paris. The funny thing is, when Paris first approached Capulet with a proposal to marry Juliet back in Act 1, Capulet seemed to agree that she was as little young (1.2). We should also point out that, by this point, Juliet is already married to Romeo (secretly) so, she doesn't really think she's too young to be a wife—she just uses it as an excuse not to get hitched to Paris.

    CAPULET
    An you be mine, I'll give you to my friend;
    And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,
    For, by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee,
    Nor what is mine shall never do thee good:
    Trust to't, bethink you; I'll not be forsworn.
    (3.5.192-196)

    Think your parents are strict? In Shakespeare's day, children (especially girls) had very little control over their lives. Daughters were expected to be silent, chaste, and obedient, which is why Capulet treats Juliet like a piece of property that he can just throw out onto "the streets" when she doesn't follow his orders.

    Act 4, Scene 2
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    How now, my headstrong, where have you been
       gadding?

    JULIET
    Where I have learned me to repent the sin
    Of disobedient opposition
    To you and your behests, and am enjoined
    By holy Laurence to fall prostrate here                  Kneeling
    And beg your pardon. Pardon, I beseech you.
    Henceforward I am ever ruled by you.
    (4.2.16-23)

    Liar, liar, pants on fire: Juliet pretends that she was visiting Friar Laurence so she could confess and "repent" for being such a "disobedient" daughter. Truth? She was off making plans to be with Romeo. Ooh, she is <em>so</em> grounded.

  • Sex

    Act 1, Scene 1
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    O, she is rich in beauty, only poor
    That, when she dies, with beauty dies her store.

    BENVOLIO
    Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?

    ROMEO
    She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste;
    For beauty starved with her severity
    Cuts beauty off from all posterity.
    (1.1.223-228)

    Romeo uses a metaphor of wealth and spending to suggest that Rosaline's vow of chastity is akin to hoarding ("sparing") her "rich[es]" (her "beauty). By refusing to have sex and, therefore, children who might carry on her legacy, Rosaline is basically "wast[ing]" her "beauty," which will "die" with her instead of living on in her children.

    We see the same kind of metaphor at work in Shakespeare's "procreation" sonnets (Sonnets 1-17), where the poet urges his friend to have children instead of being miserly with his beauty.

    Compare Romeo's speech above to Sonnet #4, below:

    Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
    Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy?
    Nature's bequest gives nothing but doth lend,
    And being frank she lends to those are free.
    Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
    The bounteous largess given thee to give?
    Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
    So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?
    For having traffic with thyself alone,
    Thou of thyself thy sweet self dost deceive.
    Then how, when nature calls thee to be gone,
    What acceptable audit canst thou leave?
    Thy unused beauty must be tomb'd with thee,
    Which, used, lives th' executor to be. (Sonnet #4)

    We're pretty sure there's some version of this pickup line still in use today.

    SAMPSON
    'Tis true, and therefore women, being the  
    weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore
    I will push Montague's men from the wall, and
    thrust his maids to the wall. 
    GREGORY
    The quarrel is between our masters and us
    their men.
    SAMPSON
    'Tis all one. I will show myself a tyrant.
    When I have fought with the men, I will be civil
    with the maids; and cut off their heads. 
    GREGORY
    The heads of the maids?
    SAMPSON
    Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads.
    Take it in what sense thou wilt.
    (1.1.16-27)

    Sampson and Gregory equate sex with violence and aggression. Here, Sampson crudely puns on the term "maidenhead" (virginity) when he equates sword fighting with men with raping women.

    GREGORY
    The quarrel is between our masters and us
    their men.

    SAMPSON
    'Tis all one. I will show myself a tyrant.
    When I have fought with the men, I will be civil
    with the maids; I will cut off their heads.

    GREGORY
    The heads of the maids?

    SAMPSON
    Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads.
    Take it in what sense thou wilt.
    (1.1.20-27)

    Sampson and Gregory might as well be scrawling this on a bathroom door: Sampson crudely puns on the term "maidenhead" (virginity) by equating sword fighting with rape.

    Act 1, Scene 4
    Mercutio

    MERCUTIO
    O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
    She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
    In shape no bigger than an agate stone
    On the forefinger of an alderman, […]
    And in this state she gallops night by night
    Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love; […]
    O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,
    Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues
    Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are. […]
    This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
    That presses them and learns them first to bear,
    Making them women of good carriage.
    This is she—  
    (1.4.58-61; 75-76; 79-81; 97-100)

    Mercutio equates sexuality with a madness that visits people in dreams. Sexuality is also interpreted as oppressive, with Queen Mab – the love-fairy – weighing down virgins while they sleep.

    Act 2, Scene 1
    Mercutio

    MERCUTIO
    Romeo! Humors! Madman! Passion! Lover!
    Appear thou in the likeness of a sigh.
    Speak but one rhyme, and I am satisfied.
    Cry but 'Ay me,' pronounce but 'love' and
       'dove.'
    Speak to my gossip Venus one fair word,
    One nickname for her purblind son and heir,
    Young Adam Cupid, he that shot so trim
    When King Cophetua loved the beggar maid.—
    He heareth not, he stirreth not, he moveth not.
    The ape is dead, and I must conjure him.—
    I conjure thee by Rosaline's bright eyes,
    By her high forehead, and her scarlet lip,
    By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh,
    And the demesnes that there adjacent lie,
    That in thy likeness thou appear to us.
    (2.1.9-24)

    Mercutio mocks love, reducing Romeo's supposed love for Rosaline to mere lust.

    MERCUTIO
    If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.
    Now will he sit under a medlar tree
    And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit
    As maids call medlars, when they laugh alone.—
    O Romeo, that she were, O, that she were
    An open-arse, thou a pop'rin pear.
    (2.1.36-41)

    What, you don't get why this is funny? Let us explain: A "medlar" is a fruit that looks—to the Elizabethans, at least, like a certain body part—so much so, that they called it an "open-arse" (which would almost certainly have meant female genitalia, and not what we'd associated with "arse.") And then there's the "open et caetera," which means, well, an open vagina; and a "poperin pear," which sounds suspiciously like "pop-her-in." In other words, Mercutio wishes Romeo's mistress were sexually available to him.

    MERCUTIO
    I conjure thee by Rosaline's bright eyes,
    By her high forehead, and her scarlet lip,
    By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh
    And the demesnes that there adjacent lie,
    That in thy likeness thou appear to us.
    (2.1.20-24)

    We managed to read this without blushing, but Mercutio is actually being pretty insulting here: he's breaking Rosaline down into parts like the popular poetic blazon http://www.ic.arizona.edu/ic/mcbride/ws200/renlyric.htm, but he's being dirty about it. The "demesnes" that like "adjacent" to her "quivering thigh" are her genitals. (Makes you wonder if the people assigning Romeo and Juliet in high school actually understand Shakespeare, doesn't it?)

    Benvolio Montague

    BENVOLIO 
    Blind is his love and best befits the dark.
    MERCUTIO
    If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.
    Now will he sit under a medlar tree
    And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit
    As maids call medlars when they laugh alone.—
    Romeo, that she were, O, that she were
    An open-arse, thou a pop'rin pear.
    (2.1.36-41)

    Mercutio reduces love to sex, using a crude fruit metaphor to show that sex itself is ridiculous.

    Act 2, Scene 5
    The Nurse

    NURSE
    Hie you to church. I must another way,
    To fetch a ladder, by the which your love
    Must climb a bird's nest soon when it is dark.
    I am the drudge and toil in your delight,
    But you shall bear the burden soon at night.
    (2.5.77-81)

    The Nurse says she'll "fetch a ladder" for Romeo to climb up so the lovers can spend their wedding night together, managing to turn her description of Romeo "climbing" the ladder into Juliet's "bird's nest" into an image of the kind of sex the couple is going to have later that night: Juliet will "bear the burden" of Romeo. (This is a lot creepier when you remember that the Nurse has practically raised Juliet.)

    Act 3, Scene 2
    Juliet

    JULIET
    Take up those cords.
                                     The Nurse picks up the rope ladder.
                                      Poor ropes, you are beguiled,
    Both you and I, for Romeo is exiled.
    He made you for a highway to my bed,
    But I, a maid, die maiden-widowèd.
    Come, cords—come, nurse. I'll to my wedding bed,
    And death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead!
    (3.2.144-150)

    Right after Juliet hears that Romeo is exiled, she assumes that she's never going to get to have sex—which, apparently, is a fate worse than death. The literal meaning here is that "death"—i.e., the rotting of her body—will break her hymen. Nice image, right?

    JULIET
    Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
    That runaway's eyes may wink and Romeo
    Leap to these arms, untalked of and unseen.
    Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
    By their own beauties, or, if love be blind,
    It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,
    Thou sober-suited matron all in black,
    And learn me how to lose a winning match,
    Play'd for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.
    Hood my unmanned blood, bating in my cheeks,
    With thy black mantle till strange love grown bold,
    Think true love acted simple modesty.
    (3.2.5-16)

    Juliet is really looking forward to her honeymoon night with Romeo and she's not afraid to say so. Although she anticipates that night's darkness will hide her blushing "cheeks" (as well as the physical evidence – "blood" – of her virginity), she doesn't seem shy about spending the night with her husband.

    JULIET
    Come, civil night,
    Thou sober-suited matron all in black,
    And learn me how to lose a winning match
    Played for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.
    Hood my unmanned blood, bating in my cheeks,
    With thy black mantle till strange love grown bold,
    Think true love acted simple modesty.
    (3.2.10-16)

    Juliet is really looking forward to her honeymoon night with Romeo and she's not afraid to say so. Although she anticipates that night's darkness will hide her blushing "cheeks" (as well as the physical evidence—"blood"—of her virginity), she doesn't seem shy about spending the night with her husband.

    NURSE
    And then my husband (God be with his soul,
    A' was a merry man) took up the child.
    'Yea,' quoth he, 'Dost thou fall upon thy face?
    Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit,
    Wilt thou not, Jule?' And, by my holidam,
    The pretty wretch left crying and said 'Ay.'
    (1.3.43-48)

    The Nurse is a lower-class woman in a Shakespeare play, which means that she thinks sex is mostly good for a few laughs. The problem? Her flippant attitude toward sex helps Romeo and Juliet end up dead.

    Romeo

    ROMEO
    And stay, good nurse, behind the abbey wall.
    Within this hour my man shall be with thee
    And bring thee cords made like a tackled stair.
    Which to the high topgallant of my joy
    Must be my convoy in the secret night.
    (2.4.190-194)

    Romeo plans his wedding night with Juliet at the same time he plans the wedding itself. Sex and marriage go hand in hand for him—but he's not just a horny teenager. Sex and marriage went hand in hand for everyone. In fact, marriages weren't considered valid unless the two people had had sex (consummated it), so this is every bit as important as the actual ceremony with the Friar.

    Mercutio

    MERCUTIO
    This [Queen Mab] is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
    That presses them and learns them first to bear,
    Making them women of good carriage.
    This is she—
    (1.4.97-100)

    Mercutio doesn't see much to laugh about. To him, sex is almost literally madness—and an oppressive one, like Queen Mab—the love-fairy—weighing down virgins while they sleep.

  • Art and Culture

    Act 1, Scene 1
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    Well, in that hit you miss. She'll not be hit
    With Cupid's arrow. She hath Dian's wit,
    And, in strong proof of chastity well armed,
    From love's weak childish bow she lives uncharmed.
    She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
    Nor bide th' encounter of assailing eyes,
    (1.1.216-221)

    Romeo's whining about Rosaline's celibacy, but that's not the interesting part. The interesting part is the way he goes about describing love and sex with the language of hunting and battle. Rosaline, he says, won't be "hit with Cupid's arrow" because she's "well arm'd" against his romantic advances. (Romeo also compares Rosaline to Diana, goddess of hunting and of chastity.) Romeo's sexual advances ("loving terms") are also likened to a "siege" (an attack). This conceit (elaborate metaphor) is pretty typical of romantic poetry. Compare Romeo's lines to the following love poem from Edmund Spenser's Amoretti, a collection of poems first published in 1595. (Psst. It's NOT about deer hunting.)

    Like as a huntsman after weary chase,
    Seeing the game from him escap'd away,
    Sits down to rest him in some shady place,
    With panting hounds beguiled of their prey:
    So after long pursuit and vain assay,
    When I all weary had the chase forsook,
    The gentle deer return'd the self-same way,
    Thinking to quench her thirst at the next brook.
    There she beholding me with milder look,
    Sought not to fly, but fearless still did bide:
    Till I in hand her yet half trembling took,
    And with her own goodwill her firmly tied.
    Strange thing, me seem'd, to see a beast so wild,
    So goodly won, with her own will beguil'd. (Amoretti LXVII)

    ROMEO
    O, she is rich in beauty, only poor
    That, when she dies, with beauty dies her store.
    BENVOLIO
    Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?
    ROMEO
    She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste;
    For beauty starved with her severity,
    Cuts beauty off from all posterity. (1.1.223-228)

    According to Romeo, Rosaline is beautiful, and therefore "rich" in beauty. But, because she refuses to get married and have kids, she'll die "poor" because her riches (her "beauty") will be buried with her and will therefore, "waste[d]." A similar idea occurs in Shakespeare's Sonnet 4, where Shakespeare uses a monetary metaphor to convince a good-looking young man who hoards his beauty (by not having kids) that, if he dies without producing children, his "unus'd beauty must be tomb'd with [him]."

    Act 1, Scene 2
    Benvolio Montague

    BENVOLIO
    Why Romeo, art thou mad?
    ROMEO
    Not mad, but bound more than a madman is,
    Shut up in prison, kept without my food,
    Whipped and tormented and good e'en, good
       fellow.
    (1.2.56-60)

    Does this sound a little cliché? It did in the sixteenth century, too. When Romeo talks about his love for Rosaline, he acts and sounds like a typical "Petrarchan lover," one who is "imprisoned" and tormented" by his unrequited love for an unavailable woman. Petrarch, by the way, was a fourteenth-century Italian poet whose sonnets were all the rage in Renaissance England. Much of Petrarch's love poetry was written about "Laura," a figure as unavailable and unattainable as Romeo's.

    Act 1, Scene 3
    Lady Capulet

    LADY CAPULET
    What say you? can you love the gentleman?
    This night you shall behold him at our feast.
    Read o'er the volume of young Paris' face,
    And find delight writ there with beauty's pen.
    Examine every married lineament
    And see how one another lends content,
    And what obscured in this fair volume lies
    Find written in the margent of his eyes.
    This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
    To beautify him only lacks a cover.
    The fish lives in the sea, and 'tis much pride
    For fair without the fair within to hide.
    That book in many's eyes doth share the glory
    That in gold clasps locks in the golden story.
    So shall you share all that he doth possess
    By having him, making yourself no less.
    (1.3.85-100)

    Here, Lady Capulet instructs Juliet to check out Paris when she's at the Capulet's ball later that evening so she can decide whether or not she likes what she sees. What's interesting about this passage is the way Lady Capulet compares Paris's face to the cover of a book of love poetry that Juliet can "read." When she calls Paris an "unbound" lover, she puns on Paris's status as an unbound, or unmarried, man who "lacks a cover," or a wife, to "bind" him and enrich his beauty.

    Brain Snack: In the 1996 film Romeo + Juliet, director Baz Luhrmann makes Lady Capulet's metaphor literal by placing a picture of Paris's face on the cover of a popular magazine.

    Act 1, Scene 5
    Romeo

    ROMEO [1st Quatrain (4 lines)]
    If I profane with my unworthiest hand
    This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
    My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
    To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

    JULIET [2nd Quatrain (4 lines)]
    Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
    Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
    For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
    And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.

    ROMEO 3rd [Quatrain (4 lines)]
    Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
    JULIET
    Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
    ROMEO
    O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do.
    They pray: grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

    JULIET [Rhymed Couplet (2 lines)]
    Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.
    ROMEO
    Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take.
    (1.5.04-117)

    This dialogue Romeo and Juliet forms a near perfect Shakespearean sonnet (a popular poetic form). A Shakespearean (a.k.a. an English sonnet) has fourteen lines in iambic pentameter. There are three quatrains (groups of four lines), followed by a rhyming couplet (two lines) that wraps the poem up. Sonnets also feature a "turn" somewhere in the middle or in the final two lines, where the poem takes a new direction or changes its argument in some way. This change can be subtle or really obvious. Typically, the rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG but, you'll notice that Shakespeare does something a bit more unusual here by repeating the rhyme "this" and "kiss" in the first and the second quatrains. So the rhyme scheme here is ABAB CBCB EFEF GG.

    If you want to learn more about Shakespeare's sonnets, check out our discussion of Sonnet 18 and then come back.

    ROMEO
    O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
    It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
    Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear—
    Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.
    So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows,
    As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows.
    The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand
    And, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.
    Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight,
    For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.
    (1.5.51-60)

    Do you think this passage where Romeo compares Juliet to a "rich jewel" is good enough to stand on its own as a piece of poetry? So did John Gaugh, the author of a seventeenth-century version of "Dating for Dummies." In his 1639 book, The Academy of Compliments, Gough "borrows" Romeo's lines and places them in a poem he calls "Encomiums on the Beauty of his Mistress." You can compare Romeo's lines (above) to Gough's poem (courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library).

    Act 2, Scene 1
    Mercutio

    MERCUTIO
    Nay, I'll conjure too.
    Romeo! Humors! Madman! Passion! Lover!
    Appear thou in the likeness of a sigh.
    Speak but one rhyme, and I am satisfied.
    Cry but 'Ay me,' pronounce but 'love' and
    'dove.'
    […]
    I must conjure him.—
    I conjure thee by Rosaline's bright eyes,
    By her high forehead, and her scarlet lip,
    By her fine foot, straight leg and quivering thigh,
    And the demesnes that there adjacent lie,
    That in thy likeness thou appear to us. (2.1.8-13, 19-24)

    Here, Mercutio tries to flush Romeo out of his hiding spot in the Capulet's yard by mocking his crush on Rosaline. (Mercutio has no idea that Romeo has just fallen in love with Juliet.) When Mercutio pretends to be Rosaline calling to her "lover" Romeo and begging him to recite some love poetry ("speak but one rhyme"), he sounds like a typical schoolboy giving his buddy a hard time.

    But then, Mercutio's teasing turns ugly as he proceeds to list Rosaline's body parts—her "bright eyes," "high forehead," "straight leg," "quivering thigh," and, finally, the genitals that are "adjacent" to her thigh. Basically, Mercutio's description of Rosaline is a dirty version of what's called a "blazon," a poetic technique that catalogues a woman's body parts (and often makes comparisons between said body parts and yummy things in nature—lips like cherries, breasts like melons, etc.). Shakespeare likes to mock this poetic convention. Compare Mercutio's lines (above) to Sonnet 130.

    Act 2, Scene 2
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
    Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
    Who is already sick and pale with grief
    That thou her maid, art far more fair than she:
    […]
    It is my lady. O, it is my love!
    O, that she knew she were!
    She speaks yet she says nothing. What of that?
    Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
    I am too bold. 'Tis not to me she speaks.
    Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
    Having some business, do entreat her eyes
    To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
    (2.2.3-6; 10-17)

    When Romeo waxes poetic about Juliet here, he elevates her to heavenly status by first equating her with the "sun" and then by comparing her eyes to stars that "twinkle" in the skies. It's marginally better than a pickup line ("Was your father a thief? Because he must have stolen the stars to put them in your eyes"), but not much.

    ROMEO
    I pray thee, chide me not. Her I love now
    Doth grace for grace and love for love allow.
    The other did not so.

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    O, she knew well
    Thy love did read by rote and could not spell.
    But come, young waverer, come, go with me, (2.3.91-96)

    Friar Laurence is pretty skeptical when he hears that Romeo has forgotten all about Rosaline and is now in love with Juliet. Not only that, but the Friar makes fun of Romeo, for reciting ("by rote") cheesy and meaningless love poetry to Rosaline rather than being able to "spell" or read it himself.

    Juliet

    JULIET
    My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
    My love as deep. The more I give to thee,
    The more I have, for both are infinite. (2.2.140-142)

    Uh, Hallmark? We know that Juliet is sincere when she says her love is "as deep" as the ocean, but, for those of us living in the 21st century, the expression has become a cliché.

  • Foolishness and Folly

    Act 1, Scene 1

    ABRAHAM
    Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

    SAMPSON
    I do bite my thumb, sir.

    ABRAHAM
    Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

    SAMPSON, aside to Gregory 
    Is the law of our side, if I
       say 'Ay'?

    GREGORY, aside to Sampson

    No.
    SAMPSON
    No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir,
    but I bite my thumb, sir. (1.1.45-52)

    This is about the stupidest reason to start a street brawl ever. (Is there ever a good reason to start a street brawl?)

    Act 1, Scene 4
    Mercutio

    MERCUTIO
    O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
    She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
    In shape no bigger than an agate stone
    On the fore-finger of an alderman,
    […]
    This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
    That presses them and learns them first to bear,
    Making them women of good carriage.
    This is she—

    ROMEO
    Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace.
    Thou talk'st of nothing.

    MERCUTIO
    True, I talk of dreams,
    Which are the children of an idle brain, (1.4.58-61; 97-104)

    Fed up with Romeo's lovesick moping for Rosaline and his claim that he had a steamy "dream" the night before, Mercutio taunts his buddy by saying that Queen Mab must have paid him a visit. (Queen Mab is a tiny fairy that brings dreams to lovers like Romeo and you can read more about her in "Symbols.") Mercutio also informs Romeo that dreams "are the children of an idle brain," which is another way of saying that Romeo is an idiot and his dreams about Rosaline are ridiculous (1.4). Given the context of the speech, it seems like Mercutio is suggesting that, like Queen Mab, dreams (especially Romeo's) are small and insignificant.

    But Mercutio isn't the only one to point out when his pal is behaving foolishly. Romeo criticizes Mercutio's crazy rant when he yells "Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace! Thou talk'st of nothing."

    Act 1, Scene 5
    Tybalt Capulet

    TYBALT
    This, by his voice, should be a Montague.—
    Fetch me my rapier, boy.
                                             What dares the slave
    Come hither, covered with an antic face
    To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?
    Now, by the stock and honor of my kin,
    To strike him dead I hold it not a sin.
    (1.5.61-67)

    Tybalt's all miffed that Romeo comes in to "scorn at our solemnity," i.e. he's shown up to the Capulet ball. But, um, a masked ball isn't exactly a solemn occasion, is it?

    Act 2, Scene 3
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!
    Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,
    So soon forsaken? Young men's love then lies
    Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.
    Jesu Maria, what a deal of brine
    Hath washed thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline!
    How much salt water thrown away in waste
    To season love, that of it doth not taste!
    The sun not yet thy sighs from heaven clears,
    Thy old groans ring yet in my ancient ears.
    Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit
    Of an old tear that is not washed off yet. (2.3.69-80)

    When Romeo bursts into Friar Laurence's chamber and declares his love for Juliet, the Friar points out that Romeo was all hot for Rosaline just the other day and now he says he's into Juliet. Good point. Yet, this same Friar agrees to help Romeo and Juliet get hitched just a few lines later. What's up with that?

    Romeo

    ROMEO
    O, let us hence. I stand on sudden haste.

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.
    (2.3.100-101)

    When Romeo wants to rush off to marry Juliet, the Friar warns him to slow down emotionally, as well as physically. But the Friar isn't exactly being all calm and level-headed, is he?

    Act 2, Scene 6
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    These violent delights have violent ends
    And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
    Which as they kiss consume. The sweetest honey
    Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
    And in the taste confounds the appetite.
    Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so.
    Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.
    (2.6.9-15)

    The Friar tries (and fails) to convince Romeo to love more calmly. The Friar would sound like the play's voice of reason, except that he behaves more foolishly than anyone. And the most foolish guy, Mercutio? He's the only one who really seems to get it: the feud is dumb, and Romeo is an idiot. No wonder Shakespeare kills him off.

    Act 3, Scene 3
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Hold thy desperate hand!
    Art thou a man? Thy form cries out thou art. 
    Thy tears are womanish; thy wild acts denote
    The unreasonable fury of a beast.
    Unseemly woman in a seeming man,
    Or ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!
    Thou hast amazed me. By my holy order,
    I thought thy disposition better tempered.
    Hast thou slain Tybalt? wilt thou slay thyself,
    And slay thy lady that in thy life lives,
    By doing damnèd hate upon thyself? (3.3.118-128)

    Here, Friar Laurence and Juliet's Nurse prevent Romeo from committing suicide (because he's afraid Juliet hates him for killing her cousin, Tybalt). The Friar's critique of Romeo's rash and foolish behavior is successful (here anyway), but we're not sure which is more foolish—Romeo's desire to stab himself with his sword or Friar Laurence's insinuation that Romeo's emotions are "womanish" and unmanly.

    Act 3, Scene 4
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    Monday, ha ha! Well, Wednesday is too soon.
    O' Thursday let it be.—O' Thursday, tell her,
    She shall be married to this noble earl.—
    Will you be ready? Do you like this haste?
    […]

    PARIS
    My lord, I would that Thursday were tomorrow.
    (3.4.22-25; 32)

    It's not just the young who rush into things; Juliet's father makes hasty decisions, too. Here, he argues that Juliet and Paris can't be married fast enough. What happened to waiting until she finishes puberty? (Oh, quick brain snack: puberty on average happened later for people in the 16th century—and most centuries, up until the middle of the twentieth. Good nutrition and possibly other factors have lowered the age a lot.)

    Act 4, Scene 1
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    On Thursday, sir? The time is very short.

    PARIS
    My father Capulet will have it so,
    And I am nothing slow to slack his haste.
    (4.1.1-3)

    Supposedly wiser and calmer than Romeo and Juliet, Lord Capulet and Paris also make a hasty decision that results in tragedy. Guess the adults don't have an advantage here.

    Act 5, Scene 3
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Saint Francis be my speed! How oft tonight
    Have my old feet stumbled at graves!
    (5.3.121-122)

    Friar Laurence doesn't move fast enough to save Romeo and Juliet. Still, despite his slowness, he stumbles (literally and symbolically) as much as those who move more quickly.

  • Marriage

    Act 1, Scene 3
    Lady Capulet

    LADY CAPULET
    Marry, that 'marry' is the very theme
    I came to talk of.—Tell me, daughter Juliet,
    How stands your disposition to be married?

    JULIET
    It is an honor that I dream not of.
    (1.3.68-71)

    Juliet at the beginning of the play is still at the age where she's putting pictures of Justin Bieber up on her wall. We're pretty sure the only actual men she's talked to in her life are either related to her or sworn to celibacy.

    LADY CAPULET
    What say you? Can you like the gentleman?
    [...]

    JULIET
    I'll look to like, if looking liking move.
    But no more deep will I endart mine eye
    Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.
    (1.3.85; 103-105)

    When Lady Capulet asks Juliet to think about whether or not she could marry Paris, Juliet promises to obey, although, she pretty much warns her mom not to hold her breath.

    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    My child is yet a stranger in the world.
    She hath not seen the change of fourteen years.
    Let two more summers wither in their pride
    Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.

    PARIS
    Younger than she are happy mothers made.

    CAPULET
    And too soon marred are those so early made.
    (1.2.8-13)

    All right, ladies, admit it: you're all just waiting for the day that Prince Charming comes to… broker a marriage deal with your dad before even meeting you. Right? Right?? It's the stuff Disney movies are made of.

    Act 1, Scene 5
    Juliet

    JULIET
    If he be marrièd
    My grave is like to be my wedding bed.
    (1.5.148-149)

    Before Juliet even knows Romeo's name, she's head over heels in love and worries that he may already be married to someone else, in which case, she says (rather dramatically) that she'll die. Teenage melodrama aside, Shakespeare is foreshadowing the way Juliet will die shortly after her marriage to Romeo. (She will literally kill herself and she will also have sex with Romeo – to "die," means to have an orgasm in Elizabethan slang.) Check out "Symbols" if you're interested in how Shakespeare links sex and death throughout the play.

    The Nurse

    NURSE
    Marry, bachelor,
    Her mother is the lady of the house,
    And a good lady, and a wise and virtuous
    I nursed her daughter that you talked withal.
    I tell you, he that can lay hold of her
    Shall have the chinks. (1.5.125-130)

    When Juliet's Nurse says that any man lucky enough to marry Juliet "shall have the chinks," she means that he'll make a lot of money. Juliet's parents have plenty of dough and Juliet, an only child, will have a large dowry. In the 16th century, marriage was often seen as an economic transaction. But, as we soon learn, Romeo and Juliet don't feel this way. Keep reading…

    Act 2, Scene 2
    Juliet

    JULIET
    Three words, dear Romeo, and good night indeed.
    If that thy bent of love be honorable,
    Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow,
    By one that I'll procure to come to thee,
    Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite,
    And all my fortunes at thy foot I'll lay
    And follow thee my lord throughout the world.
    (2.2.149-155)

    Juliet sure does know what she wants. Here, she basically tells Romeo to put a ring on it, which was unheard of in Shakespeare's day. As soon as Juliet knows that she and Romeo love each other, she immediately asks him when they can be married. Love and marriage are inseparable for Juliet. We have to ask: would Romeo have brought it up if Juliet hadn't?

    Act 2, Scene 3
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    I have been feasting with mine enemy,
    Where on a sudden one hath wounded me
    That's by me wounded. Both our remedies
    Within thy help and holy physic lies:
    (2.3.53-56)

    When Friar Laurence asks Romeo where he's been, Romeo, who has been hanging out with Juliet, uses a familiar metaphor to describe how he and Juliet fell in love. 16th century lovers were always running around saying things like "Oh, I've been wounded" to describe their passion. (You can learn more about this by going to "Quotes" for "Art and Culture, where we talk about the conventions of love poetry.)

    What's interesting about this passage is the way Romeo suggests that marriage is the thing that can heal or "remed[y]"a love "wound." When he says that Friar Laurence (who just so happens to dabble in herbal medicine) can use his "holy physic [medicine]" to heal him, he means that he wants Friar Laurence to perform the marriage ceremony.

    Act 2, Scene 6
    Juliet

    JULIET
    They are but beggars that can count their worth,
    But my true love is grown to such excess
    I cannot sum up some of half my wealth.
    (2.6.30-32)

    When Juliet rushes into Friar Laurence's cell (room) to get hitched to Romeo, she says that her love is so great that she "cannot sum up" (express or count) even "half" of her love for Romeo. What's with the money metaphor? Well, It seems like Juliet's use of an economic metaphor (her love=wealth) is Shakespeare's way of drawing our attention to the fact that Romeo and Juliet are NOT marrying for money. While many of the play's characters (the Nurse, the Capulets, Paris) see marriage as a means of securing wealth and status, Romeo and Juliet marry because they're madly in love.

    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    So smile the heavens upon this holy act
    That after-hours with sorrow chide us not.
    (2.6.1-2)

    Friar Laurence seems awfully optimistic about this secret (and possibly illegal) marriage—and pretty quick to go from "the heavens are smiling" to "A greater power than we can contradict/ Hath thwarted our intents" (5.3.153-155).

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Come, come with me, and we will make short work,
    For, by your leaves, you shall not stay alone
    Till Holy Church incorporate two in one.
    (2.6.35-37)

    Here, Friar Laurence is talking about how the marriage of Romeo and Juliet will be performed in and by the "holy church." He's also referring to the biblical idea that a marriage between a man and woman unites them into "one flesh" (Genesis 2:2)—that "corp" in the middle of "incorporate" means "body." There's also a sexual allusion (of course): "incorporate two in one" means that Romeo and Juliet can get busy now that they're legally married.

    Act 3, Scene 5
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    How, how, how, how! Chopped logic! What is this?
    'Proud,' and 'I thank you,' and 'I thank you not,'
    And yet 'not proud,' mistress minion, you,
    Thank me no thankings, nor proud me no prouds,
    But fettle your fine joints 'gainst Thursday next,
    To go with Paris to Saint Peter's Church,
    Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.
    Out, you green-sickness carrion! Out, you baggage!
    You tallow face!
    […]
    Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!
    I tell thee what: get thee to church o' Thursday,
    Or never after look me in the face.
    Speak not; reply not; do not answer me. (3.5.154-162, 166-169)

    Juliet's father flips out and becomes verbally abusive when Juliet refuses to marry Paris. What the heck happened to his earlier stance that Juliet should marry for love, when she's ready? Here, Lord Capulet treats his daughter like a piece of property that he can just give away to another man (Paris).

    CAPULET
    Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!
    I tell thee what: get thee to church o' Thursday,
    Or never after look me in the face.
    Speak not; reply not; do not answer me.
    (3.5.166-169)

    Capulet isn't so liberal-minded about waiting until Juliet is older when she's the one pointing out that she's too young. It sounds like what Capulet wants most of all is to be obeyed. Something else to point out: the Capulet family may be rich, but they're not noble. By marrying Paris, Juliet would have been definitely marrying up and bringing prestige to the family—something that would have resonated in Shakespearean England, when plenty of rich merchants were buying up titles or marrying into aristocratic families.

    CAPULET
    God's bread, it makes me mad.
    Day, night, hour, tide, time, work, play,
    Alone, in company, still my care hath been
    To have her matched. And having now provided
    A gentleman of noble parentage,
    Of fair demesnes, youthful, and nobly ligned,
    Stuffed, as they say, with honorable parts,
    Proportioned as one's thought would wish a man— (3.5.187-194)

    Lord Capulet thinks he's doing Juliet a favor by engaging her to Paris, a young and good looking guy from a "noble" family. In other words, he believes he's being a loving father and is taking care of his daughter by ensuring a stable future with Paris.

    Lady Capulet

    LADY CAPULET
    Marry, my child, early next Thursday morn
    The gallant, young, and noble gentleman,
    The County Paris, at Saint Peter's Church,
    Shall happily make thee there a joyful bride.
    (3.5.117-120)

    Lady Capulet emphasizes that Paris's good looks and social status make him an appropriate husband: what more could a girl want than "gallant, young and noble"? Well, actually, when you put it like that… sounds good to us!

    Act 4, Scene 1
    Juliet

    JULIET
    God joined my heart and Romeo's, thou our hands;
    And ere this hand, by thee to Romeo sealed,
    Shall be the label to another deed,
    Or my true heart with treacherous revolt
    Turn to another, this shall slay them both.
    (4.1.56-60)

    Juliet tries to justify her suicide (which she thinks will reunite her with her dead husband) by pointing out that her marriage to Romeo is a holy bond sanctioned by God—and she conveniently overlooks the fact that suicide is a big Christian no-no.

    PARIS
    Immoderately she weeps for Tybalt's death,
    And therefore have I little talked of love,
    For Venus smiles not in a house of tears.
    Now, sir, her father counts it dangerous
    That she doth give her sorrow so much sway,
    And in his wisdom hastes our marriage
    To stop the inundation of her tears,
    Which, too much minded by herself alone,
    May be put from her by society.
    (4.1.6-14)

    Paris say that Lord Capulet sees marriage as a way of distracting Juliet from her grief over Tybalt's death. Is he right?

  • Mortality

    Act 2, Scene 2
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    I would I were thy bird.

    JULIET
    Sweet, so would I.
    Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
    (2.2.196-198)

    Have you ever looked at a cute animal or toddler and said, "I want to eat you up?" Yeah. Wanting to love on something so hard that you destroy it may not be as weird as it sounds.

    Juliet

    JULIET
    'Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone,
    And yet no further than a wanton's bird,
    Who lets it hop a little from her hand,
    Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
    And with a silk thread plucks it back again,
    So loving-jealous of his liberty.
    ROMEO
    I would I were thy bird.
    JULIET
    Sweet, so would I.
    Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
    (2.2.190-198)

    Juliet seems to sense that the intensity of her love for Romeo is so great it has the potential to be destructive.

    Act 3, Scene 1
    Mercutio

    MERCUTIO
    I am hurt.
    A plague o' both your houses! I am sped.
    Is he gone and hath nothing?
    BENVOLIO
    What, art thou hurt?
    MERCUTIO
    Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch. Marry, 'tis enough.
    Where is my page?—Go, villain, fetch a surgeon.
    ROMEO
    Courage, man, the hurt cannot be much.
    MERCUTIO
    No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as
    a church-door; but 'tis enough. 'Twill serve. Ask for
    me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I
    am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague o'
    both your houses! 'Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a
    cat, to scratch a man to death! A braggart, a rogue, a
    villain that fights by the book of arithmetic! Why the
    devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm.
    ROMEO
    I thought all for the best.
    MERCUTIO
    Help me into some house, Benvolio,
    Or I shall faint. A plague o' both your houses!
    They have made worms' meat of me.
    I have it, and soundly too. Your houses!
    (3.1.94-113)

    Mercutio blames both the Montagues and the Capulets for his death.

    MERCUTIO
    No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a
    church door, but 'tis enough. 'Twill serve. Ask for
    me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I
    am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague o'
    both your houses! 'Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a
    cat, to scratch a man to death! A braggart, a rogue, a
    villain, that fights by the book of arithmetic! Why the
    devil came you between us? I was hurt under your
    arm.
    (3.1.100-109)

    Mercutio doesn't bother blaming fate for his death—he places the blame squarely on the family feud. Is he right?

    Act 3, Scene 2
    Juliet

    JULIET
    Is Romeo slaughtered, and is Tybalt dead?
    My dearest cousin, and my dearer lord?
    Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom,
    For who is living if those two are gone?
    (3.2.71-74)

    For Juliet, the loss of both Tybalt and Romeo seems like the Apocalypse; she expects to hear the trumpet sounding that marks the Day of Judgment.

    JULIET
    Some word there was, worser than Tybalt's death,
    That murdered 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 banishèd.'
    That 'banishèd,' that one word 'banishèd,'
    Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts. Tybalt's death
    Was woe enough, if it had ended there;
    Or, if sour woe delights in fellowship
    And needly will be ranked with other griefs,
    Why followed not, when she said 'Tybalt's dead,'
    'Thy father' or thy 'mother,' nay, or both,
    Which modern lamentations might have moved?
    But with a rearward following Tybalt's death,
    'Romeo is banishèd,' to speak that word
    Is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet,
    All slain, all dead. 'Romeo is banishèd.'
    There is no end, no limit, measure, bound,
    In that word's death. No words can that woe sound.
    (3.2.119-137)

    For Juliet, being separated from Romeo is the same as being dead.

    JULIET
    Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed
       night,
    Give me my Romeo, and, when he shall die,
    Take him and cut him out in little stars,
    And he will make the face of heaven so fine
    That all the world will be in love with night
    And pay no worship to the garish sun.
    (3.2.21-27)

    Juliet's vision of loving Romeo is so intense that she thinks it will break the boundaries of mortality and convince all the world to be in love with Romeo. (In some versions of the play, it is "and when he shall die," while in others, it is, "when shall die.")

    The Nurse

    NURSE
    Ah, weraday, he's dead, he's dead, he's dead!
    We are undone, lady, we are undone.
    Alack the day, he's gone, he's kill'd, he's dead.
    JULIET
    Can heaven be so envious?
    NURSE
    Romeo can,
    Though heaven cannot. O Romeo, Romeo,
    Who ever would have thought it? Romeo!
    JULIET
    What devil art thou, that dost torment me thus?
    This torture should be roared in dismal hell.
    Hath Romeo slain himself? Say thou but 'Ay,'
    And that bare vowel 'I' shall poison more
    Than the death-darting eye of cockatrice.
    I am not I, if there be such an 'I,'
    Or those eyes shut that make thee answer 'Ay.'
    If he be slain, say 'Ay,' or if not, "No."
    Brief sounds determine of my weal or woe.
    NURSE
    I saw the wound, I saw it with mine eyes
    (God save the mark!) here on his manly breast—
    A piteous corse, a bloody piteous corse,
    Pale, pale as ashes, all bedaubed in blood,
    All in gore blood. I swoonèd at the sight.
    JULIET
    O, break, my heart, poor bankrupt, break at once!
    To prison, eyes; ne'er look on liberty.
    Vile earth, to earth resign; end motion here,
    And thou and Romeo press one heavy bier.
    (3.2.42-66)

    Without Romeo, Juliet thinks her only option is death. She is no longer herself without him.

    Act 3, Scene 3
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    What less than dooms-day is the prince's doom?
    FRIAR LAURENCE
    A gentler judgment vanish'd from his lips,
    Not body's death, but body's banishment.
    ROMEO
    Ha, banishment! be merciful, say 'death;'
    For exile hath more terror in his look,
    Much more than death: do not say 'banishment.'
    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Hence from Verona art thou banished:
    Be patient, for the world is broad and wide.
    ROMEO
    There is no world without Verona walls,
    But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
    Hence-banished is banish'd from the world,
    And world's exile is death: then banished,
    Is death mis-term'd: calling death banishment,
    Thou cutt'st my head off with a golden axe,
    And smilest upon the stroke that murders me.
    (3.3.9-23)

    For Romeo, being separated from Juliet is like death, because Juliet is his entire world. Check out "Quotes" for "Exile" for more on this.

    Act 4, Scene 3
    Juliet

    JULIET
    What if it be a poison, which the Friar
    Subtly hath ministered to have me dead,
    Lest in this marriage he should be dishonored,
    Because he married me before to Romeo?
    I fear it is. And yet, methinks, it should not,
    For he hath still been tried a holy man.
    How if, when I am laid into the tomb,
    I wake before the time that Romeo
    Come to redeem me? There's a fearful point.
    Shall I not then be stifled in the vault,
    To whose foul mouth no healthsome air breathes in,
    And there die strangled ere my Romeo comes?
    Or, if I live, is it not very like,
    The horrible conceit of death and night,
    Together with the terror of the place—
    As in a vault, an ancient receptacle
    Where, for these many hundred years the bones
    Of all my buried ancestors are packed:
    Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth,
    Lies festering in his shroud; where, as they say,
    At some hours in the night spirits resort—
    Alack, alack, is it not like that I,
    So early waking, what with loathsome smells,
    And shrieks like mandrakes' torn out of the earth,
    That living mortals, hearing them, run mad—
    O, if I wake, shall I not be distraught,
    Environèd with all these hideous fears,
    And madly play with my forefather's joints,
    And pluck the mangled Tybalt from his shroud,
    And, in this rage, with some great kinsman's bone,
    As with a club, dash out my desperate brains?
    O, look! methinks I see my cousin's ghost
    Seeking out Romeo, that did spit his body
    Upon a rapier's point! Stay, Tybalt, stay!
    Romeo, Romeo, Romeo! Here’s drink. I drink to 
       thee. (4.3.25-60)

    Juliet understands the horrors of death – rotting bodies, terrible smells – but a world where she is forced to marry someone other than Romeo, in her mind, is worse than the world of death.

    Act 4, Scene 4
    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    Ha, let me see her: out, alas! she's cold.
    Her blood is settled, and her joints are stiff.
    Life and these lips have long been separated.
    Death lies on her like an untimely frost
    Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.
    (4.4.30-34)

    That image of the "frost" killing the "flower" is particularly pertinent when you think about Juliet's birthday—Lammas-Eve, the night before the traditional harvest festival. She dies in bloom, before anyone can "harvest" her. (Well, so Capulet thinks—actually, Romeo's done a pretty good job of bringing the harvest in, if you know what we mean.)

    Act 4, Scene 5
    The Nurse

    NURSE
    She's dead, deceased. She's dead, alack the day!
    LADY CAPULET
    Alack the day, she's dead, she's dead, she's dead.
    CAPULET
    Ha! let me see her! Out, alas, she's cold.
    Her blood is settled, and her joints are stiff.
    Life and these lips have long been separated.
    Death lies on her like an untimely frost
    Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.
    NURSE
    O lamentable day!
    LADY CAPULET
                                  O woeful time!
    CAPULET
    Death, that hath ta'en her hence to make me wail,
    Ties up my tongue and will not let me speak.
    (4.5.28-38)

    Juliet's family tries to describe her death in gentle terms – "an untimely frost" – to make her loss less horrific to them.

    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    All things that we ordainèd festival
    Turn from their office to black funeral;
    Our instruments to melancholy bells,
    Our wedding cheer to a sad burial feast,
    Our solemn hymns to sullen dirges change,
    Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse,
    And all things change them to the contrary.
    (4.5.90-96)

    Lord Capulet describes death as a kind of marriage, and a funeral as a kind of wedding. Like love and hate, these two major life events don't seem so different after all.

    Act 5, Scene 1
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight.
    (5.1.37)

    Even when he's thisclose to killing himself, Romeo manages to be clever: he's going to "lie" with Juliet in death, just like he lay with her in the marriage bed.

    ROMEO
    Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor.
                                                                    He offers money.
    Hold, there is forty ducats. Let me have
    A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear
    As will disperse itself through all the veins,
    That the life-weary taker may fall dead,
    And that the trunk may be discharged of breath
    As violently as hasty powder fired
    Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb.
    APOTHECARY
    Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law
    Is death to any he that utters them.
    ROMEO
    Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness,
    And fearest to die? Famine is in thy cheeks,
    Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes,
    Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back.
    The world is not thy friend nor the world's law.
    The world affords no law to make thee rich.
    Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.
    (5.1.62-78)

    Romeo wants a swift and instantaneous demise. He is already so prepared for death that he sees it all around him, even personified in the character of the sickly looking Apothecary.

    ROMEO
    Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness,
    And fear'st to die? Famine is in thy cheeks,
    Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes,
    Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back.
    The world is not thy friend nor the world's law.
    The world affords no law to make thee rich.
    Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.
    (5.1.72-78)

    Being near death can make people do all kinds of illegal, crazy things. In the case of this apothecary, starvation means that he's willing to break the law and sell poison to Romeo.

    Act 5, Scene 3
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death,
    Gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth,
    Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open,
    And in despite I'll cram thee with more food.
    (5.3.45-48)

    Romeo describes the Capulet family tomb as a "womb" that has swallowed Juliet's dead body. That … brings whole new meaning to the phrase "womb to tomb."

    Juliet

    JULIET
    O, happy dagger,
    This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die.
    (5.3.174-175)

    Again with the sexual innuendo: Romeo's "dagger" is going to stay in Juliet's "sheath" forever. We're pretty sure you get this, even without knowing that, in Latin, "vagina" translates directly to "sheath." For these kids, there's almost no distinction between dying together and sleeping together.

    JULIET
    What's here? A cup, closed in my true love's hand?
    Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end.—
    O churl, drunk all, and left no friendly drop
    To help me after! I will kiss thy lips.
    Haply some poison yet doth hang on them,
    To make die with a restorative.              She kisses him
    Thy lips are warm!

                            Enter Paris’s Page and Watch.
    Yea, noise? Then I'll be brief. O happy dagger,
    This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die.
    (5.3.166-175)

    Juliet does not hesitate to follow Romeo into death. Poison, to her, is like a medicine, a "restorative" that could bring her back together with Romeo. The thing is, there's not enough poison on Romeo's lips so Juliet uses her husband's sword.

    CHORUS
    The fearful passage of their death-marked love […]
    Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage; 
    (Prologue.9, 12)

    No surprises here: we know we're heading toward death from the very beginning. To be fair, that is how everything (i.e., life) ends.

  • Exile

    Act 3, Scene 1
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    This gentleman, the Prince's near ally,
    My very friend, hath got his mortal hurt
    In my behalf. My reputation stained
    With Tybalt's slander—Tybalt, that an hour
    Hath been my kinsman! O sweet Juliet,
    Thy beauty hath made me effeminate
    And in my temper soften'd valor's steel! (3.1.114-120)

    In previous passages, we've seen that Romeo feels like his banishment is equal to death because it means he can't be with Juliet. Here, we want to back up and take a look at the scene where Romeo decides to fight Tybalt, which results in Tybalt's death. Clearly, Romeo is upset that Tybalt has killed his best friend, Mercutio. He also feels as though his love for Juliet is the cause of Mercutio's death. Romeo thinks Juliet has made him "effeminate" (a girly wimp), which has prevented him from putting an end to Tybalt's aggressiveness. So, it seems that Romeo wasn't exactly worried about being separated from Juliet when he decided to kill Tybalt. After all, Romeo knew what would happen if he got into a fight. Just a few lines earlier, he issued this warning: "Tybalt, Mercutio, the prince expressly hath/ Forbidden bandying in Verona streets" (3.1.86-87).

    Lady Capulet

    LADY CAPULET
    I beg for justice, which thou, prince, must give.
    Romeo slew Tybalt; Romeo must not live.
    PRINCE
    Romeo slew him, he slew Mercutio.
    Who now the price of his dear blood doth owe?
    MONTAGUE
    Not Romeo, prince, he was Mercutio's friend.
    His fault concludes but what the law should end,
    The life of Tybalt.
    PRINCE
    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. (3.1.189-207)

    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?

    The Prince of Verona

    PRINCE
    And for that offense
    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.
    (3.1.196-207)

    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?

    Act 3, Scene 2
    Juliet

    JULIET
    'Romeo is banishèd.' To speak that word,
    Is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet,
    All slain, all dead. 'Romeo is banishèd!'
    There is no end, no limit, measure, bound,
    In that word's death. No words can that woe sound.
    Where is my father and my mother, nurse? (3.2.133-138)

    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 (nope, she's not a serial killer—she's talking about 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. Teenage melodrama? Or just an accurate representation of her intense emotions?

    JULIET
    What storm is this that blows so contrary?
    Is Romeo slaughtered and is Tybalt dead?
    My dearest cousin, and my dearer lord?
    Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom,
    For who is living if those two are gone?
    NURSE
    Tybalt is gone and Romeo banishèd.
    Romeo that killed him—he is banishèd.
    JULIET
    O God, did Romeo's hand shed Tybalt's blood?
    NURSE
    It did, it did, alas the day, it did.
    JULIET
    O serpent heart hid with a flow'ring face!
    Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
    Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical!
    Dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb!
    Despisèd substance of divinest show!
    Just opposite to what thou justly seem'st,
    A damned saint, an honorable 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! (3.2.70-91)

    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.

    JULIET
    Some word there was, worser than Tybalt's death,
    That murdered me. I would forget it fain,
    But, O, it presses to my memory
    Like damnèd guilty deeds to sinners' minds:
    'Tybalt is dead, and Romeo—banishèd.'
    That 'banishèd,' that one word 'banishèd,'
    Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts.
    (3.2.119-125)

    Juliet's initial response to the news that Romeo has been banished for killing Tybalt (Juliet's cousin) is pretty intense. 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. On the other hand, it's also pretty clear that Juliet still adores Romeo. Her use of oxymoron here gives expression to her turmoil. An "oxymoron" 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." Want to know more? Check out our discussion in "Symbols."

    The Nurse

    NURSE
    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!
    JULIET
                                          Blistered 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 honor may be crowned
    Sole monarch of the universal earth.
    O, what a beast was I to chide at him!
    NURSE
    Will you speak well of him that killed your cousin?
    JULIET
    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 killed 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 murdered me. I would forget it fain,
    But, O, it presses to my memory
    Like damnèd guilty deeds to sinners' minds:
    'Tybalt is dead, and Romeo--banishèd.'
    That 'banishèd,' that one word 'banishèd,'
    Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts. (3.2.92-125)

    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.

    Act 3, Scene 3
    Romeo

    ROMEO
    What less than doomsday is the prince's doom?
    FRIAR LAURENCE
    A gentler judgment vanished from his lips:
    Not body's death, but body's banishment.
    ROMEO
    Ha, banishment? Be merciful, say 'death,'
    For exile hath more terror in his look,
    Much more than death. Do not say 'banishment.'
    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Hence from Verona art thou banishèd.
    Be patient, for the world is broad and wide.
    ROMEO
    There is no world without Verona walls
    But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
    Hence 'banishèd is banished from the world,'
    And world's exile is death. Then 'banishèd,'
    Is death mistermed. Calling death 'banishèd' 
    Thou cutt'st my head off with a golden ax
    And smilest upon the stroke that murders me.
    (3.3.10-24)

    Romeo's reaction to the news that he's been exiled (per the Prince's orders) from Verona is similar to Juliet's response (see passage above). Romeo says "there is no world without [outside] Verona's walls" because Juliet, his entire world, is inside the walls of Verona. While the Friar sees Romeo's exile as a good thing (he's glad Romeo hasn't been sentenced to be executed), banishment, for Romeo, is tantamount to death.

    ROMEO
    Ha, banishment? Be merciful, say 'death,'
    For exile hath more terror in his look,
    Much more than death. Do not say 'banishment.'

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    Here from Verona art thou banishèd:
    Be patient, for the world is broad and wide. (3.3.13-17)

    While the Friar sees Romeo's exile as a good thing (he's glad Romeo hasn't been sentenced to be executed), banishment, for Romeo, is tantamount to death—actually, it's worse than death, because he'll be alive. (Chill, Romeo. Skype has made long-distance relationships way easier.)

    ROMEO
    'Tis torture and not mercy. Heaven is here
    Where Juliet lives, and every cat and dog
    And little mouse, every unworthy thing,
    Live here in heaven and may look on her,
    But Romeo may not. More validity,
    More honorable state, more courtship lives
    In carrion-flies than Romeo. They my seize
    On the white wonder of dear Juliet's hand
    And steal immortal blessing from her lips,
    Who even in pure and vestal modesty
    Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin;
    But Romeo may not; he is banishèd.
    Flies may do this, but I from this must fly.
    They are free men, but I am banishèd.
    (3.3.31-44)

    Okay, gross. Romeo is all bummed because even "carrion-flies" can be near Juliet, while he can't. This is technically true, but … it's not really making us jealous.

    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    O deadly sin, O rude unthankfulness!
    Thy fault our law calls death, but the kind prince,
    Taking thy part, hath rushed aside the law
    And turned that black word 'death' to
       'banishment.'
    This is dear mercy, and thou seest it not.
    ROMEO
    'Tis torture and not mercy. Heaven is here
    Where Juliet lives, and every cat and dog
    And little mouse, every unworthy thing,
    Live here in heaven and may look on her,
    But Romeo may not. More validity,
    More honorable state, more courtship lives
    In carrion-flies than Romeo. They my seize
    On the white wonder of dear Juliet's hand
    And steal immortal blessing from her lips,
    Who even in pure and vestal modesty
    Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin;
    But Romeo may not; he is banishèd.
    Flies may do this, but I from this must fly:
    They are free men, but I am banishèd.
    And say'st thou yet that exile is not death?
    Hadst thou no poison mixed, no sharp-ground
       knife,
    No sudden mean of death, though ne'er so mean,
    But 'banishèd' to' kill me'? 'Banishèd'?
    O friar, the damnèd use that word in hell.
    Howlings attend it. How hast thou the heart,
    Being a divine, a ghostly confessor,
    A sin absolver, and my friend professed,
    To mangle me with that word 'banishèd'?
    (3.3.25-54)

    Friar Laurence says that Romeo is an ingrate for not appreciating the fact that he's been exiled, not executed. But, as we know, Romeo and Juliet equate Romeo's banishment with death. Romeo accuses the old Friar of not being able to understand the implications of his forced separation from Juliet. Like Juliet's old Nurse (see 3.5.24 below) the Friar can't see things from the younger generation's perspective. (Psst. Check out the theme of "Youth" if you want to think about this generation gap some more.)

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    O deadly sin, O rude unthankfulness!
    Thy fault our law calls death, but the kind prince,
    Taking thy part, hath rushed aside the law
    And turned that black word 'death' to
       'banishment.'
    This is dear mercy, and thou seest it not. (3.3.25-30)

    Friar Laurence says that Romeo is an ingrate for not appreciating the fact that he's been exiled, not executed. Like Juliet's old Nurse (see 3.5. below) the Friar can't see things from the younger generation's perspective. (Psst. Check out the theme of "Youth" if you want to think about this generation gap some more.)

    Act 3, Scene 5
    The Nurse

    NURSE
    Romeo is banished, and all the world to nothing
    That he dares ne'er come back to challenge you,
    Or, if he do, it needs must be by stealth.
    Then, since the case so stands as now it doth,
    I think it best you married with the County.
    O, he's a lovely gentleman!
    Romeo's a dishclout to him. An eagle, madam,
    Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye
    As Paris hath. Beshrew my very heart,
    I think you are happy in this second match,
    For it excels your first: or if it did not,
    Your first is dead, or 'twere as good he were
    As living here and you no use of him.
    (3.5.226-238)

    After her parents threaten to turn her out on the streets for refusing to marry Paris, Juliet turns to her Nurse for guidance. The Nurse's advice to Juliet (who is already married to and in love with Romeo) is pretty callous—she recommends that Juliet forget about Romeo, who has been banished from Verona, and go ahead with a marriage to Paris. After all, the Nurse reasons, Romeo can't exactly come back to Verona to challenge the wedding. But, Juliet, as we know, has no intension of getting hitched to Paris.

    Lord Capulet

    CAPULET
    But, an you will not wed, I'll pardon you!
    Graze where you will you shall not house with me.
    Look to 't, think on 't. I do not use to jest.
    Thursday is near. Lay hand on heart; advise.
    An you be mine, I'll give you to my friend.
    An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,
    For, by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee,
    Nor what is mine shall never do thee good.
    Trust to 't; bethink you. I'll not be forsworn. (3.5.199-207)

    Juliet faces exile of her own: she's going to be banished from her father's house, which is probably even worse than Romeo's exile. He has all the options of being a man; she's a thirteen-year-old girl, which means life on the street can pretty much only end up one way. (Hint: the world's oldest profession.)

    Juliet

    JULIET, rising
    O God! O nurse, how shall this be prevented?
    My husband is on Earth, my faith in heaven.
    How shall that faith return again to Earth
    Unless that husband send it me from heaven
    By leaving Earth? Comfort me; counsel me.—
    Alack, alack, that heaven should practice stratagems
    Upon so soft a subject as myself.—
    What say'st thou? Hast thou not a word of joy?
    Some comfort, nurse.
    NURSE
                                      Faith, here it is.
    Romeo is banished, and all the world to nothing
    That he dares ne'er come back to challenge you,
    Or, if he do, it needs must be by stealth.
    Then, since the case so stands as now it doth,
    I think it best you married with the County.
    O, he's a lovely gentleman!
    Romeo's a dishclout to him. An eagle, madam,
    Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye
    As Paris hath. Beshrew my very heart,
    I think you are happy in this second match,
    For it excels your first, or, if it did not,
    Your first is dead, or 'twere as good he were
    As living here and you no use of him. (3.5.216-238)

    After her parents threaten to turn her out on the streets for refusing to marry Paris, Juliet turns to her Nurse for guidance. The Nurse's advice to Juliet (who is already married to and in love with Romeo) is pretty callous – she recommends that Juliet forget about Romeo, who has been banished from Verona, and go ahead with a marriage to Paris. After all, the Nurse reasons, Romeo can't exactly come back to Verona to challenge the wedding. But, Juliet, as we know, has no intension of getting hitched to Paris.

    Act 5, Scene 3
    Friar Laurence

    FRIAR LAURENCE
    I will be brief, for my short date of breath
    Is not so long as is a tedious tale.
    Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet,
    And she, there dead, that Romeo's faithful wife.
    I married them, and their stol'n marriage day
    Was Tybalt's doomsday, whose untimely death
    Banished the new-made bridegroom from the city,
    For whom, and not for Tybalt, Juliet pined.
    You, to remove that siege of grief from her,
    Betrothed and would have married her perforce
    To County Paris. Then comes she to me,
    And, with wild looks, bid me devise some mean
    To rid her from this second marriage,
    Or in my cell there would she kill herself.
    Then gave I her (so tutored by my art)
    A sleeping potion, which so took effect
    As I intended, for it wrought on her
    The form of death. (5.3.238-255)

    When the Prince arrives at the Capulet family tomb, where Romeo and Juliet have just taken their lives, he demands that Friar Laurence explain what happened. What, according to the Friar's long speech, is the cause of the young lovers' deaths? What role does Romeo's banishment play in the tragedy?