Study Guide

Romeo and Juliet Exile

By William Shakespeare

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?