Study Guide

Romeo and Juliet Act 1, Scene 4

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Act 1, Scene 4

  • Romeo and his posse (i.e., Benvolio and Mercutio) are getting ready to sneak into the Capulets' party. Luckily, it's a costume party, so they can wear masks.
  • [We should point out that Mercutio's name was on the invite list, because he's not a Montague, but he feels the need to wear a mask anyway. What's up with that?]
  • Romeo and Mercutio trade insults and there's some naughty talk about love, in particular, what to do to when "love pricks [hurts] like a thorn." Mercutio's solution? "If love be rough with you, be rough with love. Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down."
  • Translation: The solution to heartache is to go out and have sex.
  • Romeo continues to boo-hoo about the unavailable Rosaline and then he announces that he had a dream the night before. Before he can go into the details, Mercutio interrupts and delivers a long, crazy speech about "Queen Mab," a tiny fairy who visits people in their dreams. (You can read more about it in "Symbols.")
  • Romeo says Mercutio is talking nonsense and Mercutio, our resident skeptic, retorts that dreams are for idiots.
  • Before entering the party, Romeo says he has a feeling that "fate" may have something bad in store for him.

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