Study Guide

Romeo and Juliet Marriage

By William Shakespeare

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?