Ernest Cheng and Jeremy Ng
1
Prologue

2
Summary

 The prologue introduces the narrative of the play.
 The first quatrain (four lines) addresses the long-standing feud
between the families.
 The second quatrain foreshadows the healing of this feud through the
death of the lovers.
 The final two lines tell the audience to enjoy the play.
3
Significance

 “From ancient grudge break to new mutiny”
 The long-standing feud is renewed
 “Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife”
 Their deaths bring peace to Verona.
 “A pair of star-crossed lovers take their lives”
 Their love was ill-fated from the beginning.
 The use of stars as a symbol of fate is evident from the beginning.
 The alignment of stars is a symbol of good luck, thus “star-crossed”
symbolizes their misfortune.
4
Commentary

 The prologue is written in sonnet form, and emphasizes the tragic
nature of the play.
 It brings tragic irony to the audience, as they are aware of the lover’s
impending demise but they themselves are not.
 Prologue introduces the societal view towards the feud.
 The last two lines asking the audience to watch patiently while the
actors try to please them connote that no one can truly reenact the
tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.
5
Act I Scene I

6
Summary

 Benvolio, a Montague attempts to stop the fight between a Montague
and a Capulet. As the two families fight, both the Lord and Lady of both
families arrive.
 The Prince of Verona, Escales, arrives and commands peace and
decrees that any further fighting between the two families will be
punished by death.
 Later, Benvolio explains to Montague how the fight began. They then
speak of Romeo’s depressed state.
 When Romeo enters, Benvolio advises him to try to forget about his
love for Rosaline, and seek other women.
7
Significance

 “I bite my thumb at you, sir”
 This rude gesture provokes the other party.
 Through servants mock the seriousness of their superiors and the
absurdity of the feud between the families.
 “Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, Profaners of this neighborstainèd steel!— Will they not hear?”
 He emphasizes his power and criticizes the people of turning their
weapons against their own people.
 “Love is a smoke raised with fumes of sighs”
 Romeo addresses the disappointment and infatuation of love.
 Smoke connotes inconstancy and that love obscures one’s thinking
and vision.
 Sighs connotes disappointment.
8
Significance

 “What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word, As I hate hell, all
Montague and thee.”
 Tybalt is introduced as the characterization of hatred.
 Syncrisis is used to compare “hell” with “Montagues”, emphasizing the
contempt he has for the family. “Hell” is the metonym of devil and evil.
 Shakespeare uses parallel clauses and iambic pentameter to create a
aggressive rhythm.
 This cadence emphasizes Tybalt’s hate for specific elements.
 The repetition of the word “hate” further emphasizes this.
 The short sentence structure creates a rash and disrespectful tone.
 “Here’s much to do with hate but more with love”
 Romeo believes that love is a stronger force than hate.
9
Significance

 “O brawling love, o loving hate, O anything of nothing first created! O
heavy lightness, serious vanity, Misshapen chaos of well-seeming
forms! Feather of lead, bright smoke”
 Romeo uses oxymoron to convey the distress and anguish that he is
experiencing.
 The oxymoron conveys the conflict between the futility of his love and his
obsession with Rosaline
 The use of exclamation marks reflect his melodramatic nature and him
romanticizing the insignificance of his unrequited love.
10
Commentary

 The comedic nature of the exchange between the servants mock the
seriousness of the nobles and alerts the audience of the absurdity of
the feud.
 Tybalt is portrayed as a character of hatred and violence. He provokes
Benvolio to fight and is a major contributor to the conflict in the play. He
establishes the basis of the conflict between the feuding families in this
play, and his unparalleled and paradoxical hatred of peace further
extend that theme.
 Prince Escales is an authority figure within the play. The scales
connote balance and the law, showing that he has the responsibility of
maintaining order within Verona.
 Romeo’s anguish is introduced in this scene. His unrequited love for
the unmet character Rosaline tells the audience the futility of his love.
Benvolio’s concern for him portrays Benvolio as a wise, advice-giver.
11
Act I Scene II

12
Summary

 Paris asks Lord Capulet for his permission to marry his daughter.
 Capulet invites Paris to a feast later that night, and send tell his servant
to deliver invitations.
 The servant Peter cannot read, and finds Romeo to help read for him.
 Romeo discovers Rosaline, the girl he loves, is in the invitation list.
 Benvolio and Romeo decide to go to the party, although it is a Capulet
party.
13
Significance

 “Younger than she are happy mothers made.”
 Paris attempts to convince Lord Capulet to allow him to marry Juliet,
despite Capulet thinking she is too young.
 Paris believes that if Juliet marries him, she becomes his possession;
aligning with social conventions of a patriarchal society.
 Paris’s notion of marriage and birth is an antithesis to Juliet’s perspective of
passionate love, strengthening his position as an obstruction in Romeo and
Juliet’s love.
 “Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light.”
 Capulet uses beautiful stellar imagery to analogize the women at his party.
 The juxtaposition of dark and light emphasizes the radiance of the women.
14
Commentary

 Lord Capulet speaks in rhyming couplets. The use of rhyming couplets
is synonymous with high-ranking members of the Verona society such
as Friar Lawrence.
 This scene displays the youth of Juliet, and the social conventions of
early marriage.
 Paris’s dialogue in this scene with Capulet is short and stinted,
conveying his impatience towards his prospective father-in-law.
 The character of Rosaline does not appear in the play, the lack of
development in their love is used to divert the focus to Romeo and
Juliet.
 Benvolio is portrayed as Romeo’s confidante and caregiver. He is more
responsible, and gives Romeo advice on his love.
15
Act I Scene III

16
Summary

 Lady Capulet informs Juliet of her arranged marriage, and to look out
for Paris at the feast.
17
Significance

 “What, lamb! What, ladybird!”
 Nurse has a closer relationship with Juliet than his mother.
 Terms of endearment used by the Nurse emphasize their close maternal
relationship.
 “Why, he’s a man of wax.”
 This description of Paris portrays him as the perfect man.
 The hyperbole compares him to a sculpture from wax.
 “But no more deep will I endart mine eye Than your consent gives
strength to make it fly.”
 Metaphor of Juliet as the arrow and her parents as the bow.
 As the arrow, Juliet is powerless to choose her life’s direction, and will
be directed at whichever man her parents choose.
 Reference to cupid’s bow.
18
Significance

 “No less! Nay, bigger; women grow by men.”
 Nurse says that men will make a girl bigger by impregnating her.
 Use of double entendre show the Nurse as a down-to-earth and
friendly character.
 This quote shows the contrast between the upper and lower class
views on love. The servants are more erotic, and the aristocrats have a
more romantic and traditional view.
 “I would say thou hadst sucked wisdom from thy teat.”
 Nurse is Juliet’s wet nurse.
 This reinforces their maternal relationship.
19
Commentary

 Act 1 Scene 3 establishes the Nurse’s close maternal relationship with
Juliet, that she only wants the best for her, telling her to “Go girl, seek
happy nights to happy days.” Her character is displayed as chatty,
often saying pointless things.
 In Juliet’s first appearance, she is illustrated as a submissive and
obedient character, following her parent’s will. This is contrasted to
when she falls in love, where she develops into an independent
character.
 Juliet’s relationship with her mother is more formal, she often
addresses her as madam and this creates an aura of respect, but not
love.
20
Act I Scene IV

21
Summary

 Romeo, his cousin Benvolio and his friend Mercutio discuss whether to
go into the Capulet party.
 Romeo is does not care to dance, as he dreams of something awful
happening to him.
 However, Benvolio and Mercutio convince him to participate, they enter
the party.
22
Significance

 “I have a soul of lead”
 Romeo analogizes his depression to a physical burden upon him.
 The pun of soul and sole means his sadness and that he doesn’t want
to dance.
 This is contrasted with Romeo in a later scene where he claims to “with
love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls.”
 “If love be rough with you, be rough with love. Prick love for pricking,
and you beat love down.”
 Mercutio mocks Romeo’s romanticized view of love.
 The words “rough”, “prick”, “beat” create a semantic field of violence,
portraying Mercutio’s character as volatile and aggressive.
 The juxtaposition of innuendo and violence conveys Mercutio and
Romeo’s vastly different attitude towards love, Mercutio’s being erotic
and Romeo’s being romantic.
 The use of inversion shows Mercutio’s use of wit and humorous
disposition.
23
Significance

 “Some consequence yet hanging in the stars… Direct my sail.”
 Romeo is in a state of trepidation before the party, he predicts bad fortune.
 Shakespeare uses this to reinforce that fate ultimately decides the
course of Romeo’s life. Caesura is used to isolate “Direct my sail”,
Romeo giving fate control.
 The “sail” is compared to the quote at the Act 5 Scene 3, where in
Romeo’s soliloquy he analogizes their demise with the crashing of a
boat.
 His ignorance of the premonition reflects the inevitability of his course.
 The choice of diction “hanging” connotes a sense of looming and
impending doom.
 Romeo personifies fate as “lusty gentlemen”, whom directs his course.
24
Commentary

 Mercutio, with his wit and stories of Queen Mab, is immediately
established as a witty, impulsive character. In contrast to Romeo, he
cares little about what occurs around him, much less what people think
of him.
 The name Mercutio is derived from the word “mercurial”, which
connotes his mercurial personality. The word “mercurial” denotes a fast
and quick changing mood, which Romeo embodies. On that note,
“mercurial” is in reference to the Roman god Mercury, whom is known
for his eloquence.
 Romeo’s angst is depicted through the use of puns, soul – sole, soar –
sore.
 Romeo’s premonitions create a sense of foreboding and dramatic
irony. Although he does meet Juliet at the ball, their relationship
ultimately results in their unfortunate demise. His dream, “I dreamt a
dream” is used to foretell the future, as was believed in Elizabethan
society.
25
Act I Scene V

26
Summary

 Capulet’s house is cleared to prepare for the dance.
 Lord Capulet welcomes the masked guests and watches the dance.
 Tybalt realizes that one of the maskers is a Montague and is furious at
the intrusion.
 Capulet, identifying Romeo, orders Tybalt to control himself and
behave civilly.
 Romeo does not take part in the dance, has noticed Juliet and is
amazed by her beauty.
 He approaches her and woos her, and they eventually fall in love and
kiss.
 The Nurse interrupts them, and the scene ends with Romeo learning
that Juliet is a Capulet, and Juliet that Romeo is a Montague.
27
Significance

 “Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!”
 Romeo describes Juliet’s radiant beauty.
 The choice of diction “burn” connotes a burning passion.
 The use of light imagery portrays Juliet’s radiance.
 “Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear”
 Juliet’s beauty is compared to a jewel on an Ethiopian’s ear.
 Jewel is an metonym of beauty and wealth.
 The brightness of the jewel contrasts with the darkness of an African’s
skin.
28
Significance

 “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true
beauty till this night.”
 Romeo immediately falls in love with Juliet, and forgets about Juliet.
 Iambic pentameter creates a cadence of admiration.
 “Now, by the stock and honor of my kin, To strike him dead I hold it not
a sin.”
 Tybalt is furious that Romeo is intruding into their ball.
 The juxtaposition of the words “honor” and “sin” shows that Tybalt is
driven by a warped sense of morality, believing that upholding honor
justifies murder.
 The rhyme scheme links the word “sin” and “kin”, showing he is ready
to commit a crime to protect the honor of the Capulet family.
29
Significance

 “For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch, And palm to palm
is holy palmers' kiss.”
 Romeo and Juliet utilizes religious imagery to convey their exalted love.
 Juliet matches Romeo in wit, a mutual connection.
 “My grave is like to be my wedding bed.”
 Juliet expresses that she would rather die than marry someone other than
Romeo.
 Ironic as their marriage causes their deaths.
 “My only love sprung from my only hate!”
 Juliet’s dilemma is shown through the juxtaposition of “love” and “hate”.
 The antithesis sets the tone for the conflict that obstructs their love.
 The repetition of “only” reinforces Juliet’s belief that he will be her only love.
30
Commentary

 Romeo and Juliet shares the same fourteen lines of a sonnet, and
kisses afterwards. They each speak a full quatrain, and share the six
lines afterwards. The mutuality expressed by the stichomythia within
this dialogue conveys their love to be unlike that of the arranged
marriages that were present in that era. This is contrasted to other
Shakespearean plays such as Much Ado About Nothing where Claudio
dominates his dialogue with Hero.
 The constant religious allusions in their speech reflect the exalted
nature of their love. He presents himself as a pilgrim visiting a statue of
a saint. Juliet makes the pun of “palm / palmers” to compare their
palms to pilgrims. This technique is in reference to poet Petrarch,
where the women were often portrayed as saints, and the men were
undeserving.
31
Commentary

 Romeo’s beautiful words of adoration convey to the audience that
Juliet has revealed his true witty and romantic nature, contrasted to his
dull and depressed nature when he was infatuated with Rosaline.
 Romeo’s words of dire portent at the beginning of the scene build on
his feeling of trepidation in Act 1 Scene 4. It reinforces the ironic nature
of Shakespearean tragedy, of which the audience believe that life
should be given to the true lovers, but only death grasps them.
 The love at first sight element in this scene is crucial in contribution to
the tragedy of the deaths. The true love that Romeo and Juliet had
creates pathos, in classic Shakespearean tragedy style, the audience
wishes for Romeo and Juliet to live happily, but is disappointed by the
strength of the conflict.
32
Act II Prologue

33
Summary

 The Chorus summarizes the deterioration of Romeo’s infatuation
towards Rosaline.
 His transition from unrequited to mutual love is quick, however the
Chorus expresses that they have no chance to see each other without
the cover of night.
 The words of the Chorus say that the taboo nature of their love further
increases their intense pleasure with extreme danger.
34
Act II Scene I

35
Summary

 Benvolio and Mercutio are now looking for Romeo.
 Mercutio, unknowing of the fact that Romeo now loves Juliet, attempts
to tease Romeo by making bawdy remarks of Romeo’s love for
Rosaline, with no effect. He
 They return home after Romeo does not turn up.
36
Act II Scene II

37
Summary

 Romeo dismisses Mercutio’s jokes, and sees Juliet upon her balcony
and admires her beauty.
 Juliet, unaware of Romeo’s presence, confesses his love for him even
if they are of opposing families.
 After learning of his presence, they discuss their marriage, and
promises to send a messenger to learn of their wedding plans.
38
Significance

 “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.”
 Romeo’s first sight of Juliet is illustrated through vivid light imagery.
 Shakespeare parallels Juliet to the sun through a metaphor. The sun is
a metonym of light and radiance, vividly describing Juliet’s beauty.
 Proxemics is utilized as Juliet on the balcony would have reflected the
image of a rising sun. Comparison to the sun creates a warm image of
Juliet.
 The usage of light imagery is a recurring motif used to describe the
romantic love.
 The “envious moon” is reference to the virgin goddess of the moon
Diana. Romeo implies that as long as Juliet is a virgin, she will forever
be a servant of Diana.
 Romeo also uses “kill the envious moon” to express his desire for their
love not to be limited to the obscurity of the night.
39
Significance

 “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.”
 Juliet wonder why her love has to be from the opposing house.
 She is ready to leave her family to prove her dedication to Romeo.
 Her repetition of the word “Romeo” proves her addiction.
 “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would
smell as sweet.”
 Juliet laments the meaningless convention of a name, and the obstruction
that their feuding families present, proving that she loves Romeo
regardless of social differences.
 The metaphor of “rose” utilizes metonymy to symbolize love.
 This quotation encapsulates her sudden maturity to question the
importance of the family feud.
40
Significance

 “With love’s light wings did I o'erperch these walls”
 Romeo explains how he entered Juliet’s private courtyard.
 This is compared to Romeo’s previous line of “soul of lead”. His love for
Juliet changes him drastically.
 “O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon”
 Juliet wants their love to be unwavering.
 Swearing on the moon represents their love can only occur at night.
 “It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden, Too like the lightning”
 Juliet comments on Romeo’s impetuous nature.
 The synathroesmus of “rash”, “unadvised”, “sudden”, “lightning” create
a semantic field of urgency and impulsiveness.
 This comment enforces Juliet’s growing maturity compared to Romeo’s
impetuous nature.
41
Significance

 “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.”
 Juliet repeats her vow to Romeo, speaking of her infinite love and
generosity towards him.
 Shakespeare uses iambic pentameter to emphasize the words
“bounty”, “boundless”, “love” and “deep”, extending his love towards
him.
 Rhyming couplets and iambic pentameter also creates an exalted
cadence.
42
Commentary

 The beautiful symbolism of love is emphasized by its contrast to
Mercutio’s bawdy innuendo in the previous scene.
 This scene encapsulates the rapid progression of their love, “My
[Juliet’s] ear’s have not yet drunk a hundred words Of that tongue’s
uttering, yet I know the sound.”
 Juliet’s proactive nature in suggesting their marriage is against the
social conventions in 16th century.
 Juliet’s monologue and then dialogue with Romeo in this scene
illustrates love with the duality of light and dark. The remarkable
treatment of the confession of love by Shakespeare is a memorable
scene in Romeo & Juliet.
 Juliet’s character is seen as loyal and mature, this is expressed by her
wish for unwavering and not fickle love.
43
Act II Scene III

44
Summary

 Romeo visits Friar Lawrence, who is glad to hear that Romeo is no
longer infatuated with Rosaline, but surprised that another woman has
already taken her place.
 He agrees to secretly marry Romeo and Juliet, justified by the cause of
uniting the families of Montague and Capulet.
45
Significance

 “Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied, And vice sometime by action
dignified.”
 Friar Lawrence believes that good actions can be turned bad when
misapplied, and bad can sometimes be good through dignified actions.
 This quote foreshadows their consequential deaths through their
marriage.
 “Young men’s love then lies, Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.”
 The Friar criticizes Romeo’s infatuation.
 “For this alliance may so happy prove, / To turn your households’
rancor to pure love.”
 The juxtaposition of “rancor” and “love” implies the extreme strength of love
to turn such hatred into happiness.
 Friar believes that the marriage of the lovers will end in peace, through a
semantic field of love, however, the audience knows that their love is
“death-marked”. This creates a sense of dramatic irony.
46
Significance

 “Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.”
 The Friar warns Romeo not to be hasty.
 This is ironic as it is the Friar that agrees to hastily marry them, and
hastily enacts the plan to reconnect Juliet and Romeo, leading to their
death.
47
Commentary

 In the introduction of Friar Lawrence, his soliloquy, he is presented as
a wise and kind man.
 His dialogue shows that he believes that love and hatred are closely
linked, that “Poison hath residence and medicine power.” His view of
love and hatred underlines one of the key driving forces of the play,
that love can be destroyed by conflict.
 The final lines of his soliloquy is a prophecy of Romeo’s fate, that he
will die of poison due to the dominance of hatred.
 He criticizes Romeo’s fickle and melodramatic nature, “How much salt
water thrown away in waste To season love that of it doth not taste!”
He speaks of Romeo’s unreliability, that he cannot expect women to
act maturely when the male figure cannot do so himself.
48
Commentary

 The Friar, like Prince Escales, hope to end the feud between the to
bitterly conflicted families. They are both in positions of authority, the
Church and the State respectively. It increases the tragedy that the
love of Romeo and Juliet should be ended by the very quarrel that the
Friar hoped it would reconcile, and that only their deaths restore peace
to Verona.
 Throughout the Friar’s soliloquy, his speech consists of contradicting
theses, in the form of couplets, such as “For naught so vile that on the
earth doth live But to the earth some special good doth give.” Although
each of the lines seam contradictory, the rhymed couplet binds them
together as a single point to create a balance in the world. It displays
the contrast of good and evil.
49
Act II Scene IV

50
Summary

 Benvolio and Mercutio discuss the challenge that has been sent from
Tybalt to Romeo.
 Romeo enters in a joyful mood and makes witty exchanges with
Mercutio.
 The Nurse enters and arranges the marriage details with Romeo.
51
Commentary

 Tybalt’s aggressive challenge is at odds with the love that has
developed in the previous scenes.
 The happiness which is created by their marriage is already undercut
by the daunting threat that Tybalt has made.
52
Act II Scene V

53
Summary

 Juliet waits anxiously for the return of the Nurse, who has been gone
for several hours.
 When the Nurse returns, it is only after repeated questions that Juliet
learns that Romeo has arranged marriage for that afternoon.
54
Commentary

 This short scene achieves dramatic effect as the garrulousness of the
Nurse builds tension as the audience is made to wait, its impatience
building with Juliet’s.
 The length of the wait involves us in sympathy with Juliet, irritation and
amusement at the Nurse and relief when the plan is finally expressed.
55
Act II Scene VI

56
Summary

 Romeo and Juliet meet at Friar Lawrence’s cell to be married.
 The Friar marries them offstage.
57
Significance

 “These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like
fire and powder, Which, as they kiss, consume.”
 Friar once again warns Romeo not to excessively obsess himself with love,
as it only ends with dire misfortunes.
 He foreshadows that their love will end in their deaths.
 The repetition of “violent” and use of “death”, “fire” and “powder” create
a semantic field of violence.
 “Then love-devouring death do what he dare; It is enough I may but
call her mine.”
 Romeo believes that his life is fulfilled so long as he can be Juliet’s
husband.
 The juxtaposition of “love” and “death” create a sense of foreboding
that their love with cause their death.
58
Commentary

 By not presenting the marriage on stage, Shakespeare compresses
time and ensures that the memorable scenes will be Act 2 Scene 2 and
Act 5 Scene 3. Thus he gives a starkly simple structure to the play,
their dramatic affirmation of love, and then their deaths.
 By ending this scene of the play so inconsequentially, Shakespeare
achieves an obvious contrast with the violence that follows in the next
scene. The idyllic, quiet, secret love between Romeo and Juliet is
shattered by Tybalt. His lines of “These violent delights have violent
ends” are tragically prophetic.
59
Act III Scene I

60
Summary

 Mercutio and Benvolio are walking in Verona. Mercutio rejects
Benvolio’s suggestion that they should leave the streets as the
Capulets are also out-of doors.
 Tybalt is looking for Romeo, but Mercutio deliberately provokes him.
 When Romeo enters, Tybalt turns and insults him.
 Mercutio is dismayed by Romeo’s cowardice in refusing to fight and
draws his sword on Tybalt.
 As Romeo tries to stop them fighting, Mercutio is fatally wounded by
Tybalt.
 Romeo avenges his friend and kills Tybalt.
 Benvolio persuades Romeo to flee, since the Prince has decreed that
anyone guilty of further violence will be punished by death.
 Because Tybalt has committed a murder himself, the Prince does not
order Romeo’s execution, but exiles him.
61
Significance

 “thou art a villain”
 Tybalt intentionally provokes Romeo.
 Tybalt calling Romeo a “villain” is repeated throughout the play, he
intentionally insults him.
 “O calm dishonourable, vile submission!”
 Mercutio criticizes Romeo for his cowardice.
 The juxtaposition of “calm” and “dishonorable” shows Mercutio’s
twisted sense of honor.
 “A plague o' both your houses! They have made worms' meat of me.”
 Mercutio curses both the Capulets and Montagues after he has been fatally
wounded.
 “Worms’ meat” is a metaphor for death and being in a grave.
 He blames the houses for his death, when it was because of his violent
nature.
62
Significance

 “This day’s black fate on more days doth depend. This but begins the
woe others must end.”
 Romeo, in a moment of grim foresight, predicts that this day will result in
many deaths.
 The color connotations of “black” are death and misfortune.
 Indicates a turning point in the play, the improvement of Romeo and
Juliet’s circumstances to the violence that grips the rest of the
narrative.
63
Commentary

 This scene is pivotal in the narrative, on which the fortune of the
protagonists take a turn of the worse, as Romeo states “I am fortune’s
fool!” It is tragically ironic that Romeo does his best to prevent it,
“Draw, Benvolio. Beat down their weapons”, but it is the violent nature
of his friend Mercutio that causes the tragedy.
 Romeo is first portrayed in this scene as peaceful and unwilling to fight,
“And so, good Capulet—which name I tender As dearly as my own—
be satisfied.” However, due to Mercutio and Tybalt’s bellicose and
belligerent rhetoric and violent actions, he is forced to avenge his
friend’s life “Away to heaven, respective lenity, And fire-eyed fury be
my conduct now”, ultimately ending in his exile.
 Benvolio is displayed as a trusted citizen, the Prince trusts him to tell
the case.
64
Commentary

 This scene is the antecedent to the tragedy of the rest of the narrative,
Romeo’s banishment, the Friar’s secret plan, and ultimately their
deaths. This scene was made to prove that despite Romeo’s best
efforts to maintain peace, he is forcefully entangled in the violence of
the feud.
65
Act III Scene II

66
Summary

 Juliet is waiting impatiently for the night, which will bring Romeo to her.
 In a dramatic moment, just as Juliet is joyfully speaking of Romeo and
the consummation of their love, the Nurse dashes in and crushes her
dreams by telling her of Tybalt’s death and Romeo’s banishment.
 After a brief shock of what Romeo has done, Juliet composes herself
and states that she is not appalled that he killed her cousin, but full of
grief at his banishment.
 The scene ends with the Nurse agreeing to bring Romeo from the
Friar’s cell, where he is hiding.
67
Significance

 “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.”
 Juliet utilizes stellar imagery to describe Romeo’s beauty.
 The duality of light and dark is depicted.
 Their love can only occur under the veil of darkness.
 The choice of diction “heaven” gives their love a exalted characteristic.
68
Commentary

 This is a scene of tragic irony, as the audience knows of Romeo’s
misfortune before Juliet does. Thus, Juliet’s wedding hymn will lead to
no such happiness that she anticipates. She speaks metaphorically of
their separation being her death, “And death, not Romeo, can take my
virginity!”
 Juliet’s initial reaction to Romeo’s killing of Tybalt is conflict,
Shakespeare uses oxymoron such as “Beautiful tyrant” and “Fiend
angelical” to depict her conflicted disposition. Later, she blames the
Nurse for cursing her husband, this ma
69
Act III Scene III

70
Summary

 Romeo is now hidden in Friar Lawrence’s cell after killing Tybalt.
 The Friar notifies him of his banishment, to Romeo, it is a way of
condemning him to death as it means separation from Juliet.
 The Nurse comes, and her description of Juliet’s grief fills Romeo with
guilt and regret that he tries to kill himself.
 The Friar follows with a long speech of the folly of suicide, telling him
he has much to be thankful for.
 He tells Romeo to leave Verona for enough time for him to reconcile
the families and publicly proclaim their marriage.
71
Commentary

 Romeo’s reaction is more melodramatic in contrast to Juliet’s
composure and the calm mannerisms of the Friar and the Nurse. He
exaggerates the dire situation that he is in claiming that “There is no
world without Verona walls But purgatory, torture, hell itself.”
 This scene balances Act 3 Scene 2, which presents Juliet’s reaction to
Romeo’s banishment. This parallelism compares the character
development of Romeo and Juliet, showing the while Juliet has began
becoming more composed, Romeo’s behavior is still overdramatic.
72
Act III Scene IV

73
Summary

 Lord Capulet promises to arrange the marriage for Thursday, he has
sure that he has Juliet’s complete obedience.
 Lord Capulet tells Lady Capulet to inform Juliet of the arrangement.
74
Commentary

 Capulet has a sudden change of attitude towards Juliet’s freedom.
Whereas in Act 1 Scene 2 he insists on seeing whether she is ready to
marry, in this scene he believes that “she will be ruled In all aspects by
me [Capulet]”.
 In the view of Juliet’s obedience and compliance in Act 1 Scene 3,
Capulet is sure that she will obey him. He is proved wrong in the
following scene, the juxtaposition of the two scenes enhances the
dramatic irony of it.
 Tragic irony is present in this scene, as events are working against
their relationship unknown to the lovers and threatening their romance.
75
Act III Scene V

76
Summary

 After spending the night together, Romeo and Juliet part after Nurse
comes and tells them Lady Capulet is coming.
 Juliet is informed by her mother that she will be married in two days to
Paris.
 Lady Capulet says that her father has arranged this so to stop her
grieving for Tybalt.
 Juliet refuses the marriage, when her father comes in, he is furious at
the disobedience, shocking the Nurse and Lady Capulet by the
violence of his anger.
 The Nurse suggests Juliet marry Paris, as Romeo is unlikely to be able
to return.
 Juliet is appalled by the Nurse leaving her side, she decides to go to
the Friar for help.
77
Significance

 “I have an ill-divining soul! Methinks I see thee, now thou art below, As
one dead in the bottom of a tomb”
 Juliet foreshadows their fate.
 Use of proxemics.
 A tone of death, foreboding and tragic irony is established.
 “More light and light; more dark and dark our woes”
 Romeo and Juliet’s parting is filled with misgivings and fears.
 Contrasting ideas are juxtaposed, light being bad, as he risks capture
and execution in broad daylight.
78
Significance

 “Indeed, I never shall be satisfied With Romeo, till I behold him – dead
– Is my poor heart for a kinsman vexed.”
 Double entendre is achieved using caesura, dead is singled out to form the
sentences “till I behold him” and “dead Is my heart”.
 To Lady Capulet, the sentence is “With Romeo, till I behold him dead”.
 Realistically, the sentence is “With Romeo, till I behold him - dead Is my
heart”
 “Oh, 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!”
 Double meaning is once again used to show both Juliet’s love for Romeo,
and the hate that she wants her parents to believe she is experiencing.
 This irony further explores Juliet’s development in character
79
Commentary

 Lord Capulet’s true nature is explored in this scene, he is revealed as a
violent character. In contrast to his past calm self, notably in Act 1
Scene 5, where he dismisses Tybalt to take action against Romeo’s
intrusion, he repeatedly insults Juliet with foul words such as “Out, you
green sickness, carrion! Out, you baggage! You tallow face!”
 Juliet’s arranged marriage to Paris is the consequence of the
patriarchal dominance that was present in Shakespearean era. When
Juliet attempts to ask her mother for help, she replies, “Talk not to me,
for I’ll not speak a word. Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.” Her
refusal to help her in the presence of her husband enforces the
patriarchal society.
80
Commentary

 Shakespeare only depicts Romeo’s departure from Verona, but not his
arrival in Mantua, thus the audience is left with a final image of Romeo
leaving, further intensifying the dark and sorrowful atmosphere.
 The Nurse advises Juliet to marry Paris for her own good. However,
Juliet interprets this as betrayal from the Nurse, saying “Well, thou hast
comforted me marvelous much”. Her love with Romeo has distanced
her from her own family.
81
Act IV Scene I

82
Summary

 Paris has come to see the Friar to inform him of his plans for marriage
with Juliet.
 Juliet enters and carefully avoids answering directly Paris’s questions
about her love for him and their marriage.
 Paris leaves, thinking Juliet has come to confess her love, but she is
actually here for Friar’s help to avoid her marriage.
 Friar informs her of his plan to give her a poison for her to appear
dead, and to inform Romeo by letter.
 Juliet agrees to this desperate plan.
83
Significance

 “And you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend; And you be not, hang, beg,
starve, die in the streets”
 Capulet threatens Juliet to throw her out if she doesn’t marry Paris
 The objectification of Juliet (mine, give) shows the power Lord Capulet
has over her.
 The sematic field of aggression emphasizes the dangerous situation
that Juliet is in, highlights the extent of Lord Capulet’s anger.
 The usage of anaphora emphasizes Juliet’s limited options (either she
can obey her father, or she can be disowned), and thus demonstrates
the power of parents over children in Verona.
84
Commentary

 As in Act 3 Scene 5, where Juliet speaks to Lady Capulet in double
meanings, she is now speaking in double meanings to Paris.
 In contrast to his warnings in Act 2 Scene 3 of “Wisely and slow. They
stumble that run fast”, the Friar is now seeking desperate plans to
revive Romeo and Juliet’s relationship.
85
Act IV Scene II

86
Summary

 In the Capulet house preparations are going forward for the wedding.
 Juliet, falling in with the Friar’s plan, submits entirely to her father, who
is so pleased that he brings forward the wedding to the next day.
 Capulet has to stay the whole night to get things ready in the day.
87
Commentary

 The scene ends on an ironic note, Capulet’s heart is “wondrous light”
now that Juliet has agreed to marry Paris, however the audience
knows otherwise.
 The marriage moving forward one day is crucial to the failure of Friar’s
plan, instead of Juliet taking the potion on Wednesday, she is now
taking it on Tuesday night. This gives one less day for the Friar to
inform Romeo of the plan, causing the failure due to the plague.
 It is cruel irony that Juliet’s fake change of heart is so effective that it
contributes to the tragedy.
88
Act IV Scene III

89
Summary

 Juliet sends away the Nurse.
 After extensive consideration, suspecting the Friar of wrongful deeds
and fearing the atmosphere in the tomb, she takes the potion.
90
Significance

 “And shrieks like mandrakes’ torn out of the earth”
 Juliet’s fear towards the tomb is depicted in superstitious elements.
 A mandrake is a poisonous plant, it was thought to have magical
powers as it root resembled a human body.
 It was believed that when a mandrake was pulled out of the ground,
they would shriek and to hear the sound would bring death and
suffering.
 “O look! Methinks I see my cousin’s ghost Seeking out Romeo that did
spit his body Upon a rapier’s point.”
 Juliet’s fear is being manifested into visions.
 Her paranoia is creating supernatural manifestations of which she
imagines a ghost Tybalt acting out revenge against Romeo.
 This scene is tragically ironic, as if she listened to her imagination, she
would not have drank the mixture, and the situation may have been
salvaged.
91
Commentary

 Juliet is shown as increasingly independent. She rejects the Nurse’s
accompaniment, and has the determination to commit suicide if the
mixture fails, “No, no, this shall forbid it; lie thou there.” Suicide was a
social taboo at the time, and her defiance of her father’s will illustrates
her growing maturity.
 She is suspicious of the poison, “which the Friar Subtly hath ministered
to have me dead.” Her suspicion of a holy man such as Friar Lawrence
shows that her thinking is obscured and she is being overcome by
paranoia.
 The use of references to superstition and death depict Juliet’s fear
towards the tomb. Her manifestations are of myths that appeared in
Shakespeare’s time, which allows his audience to relate to them.
These elements also show Juliet’s conflicted personality, references to
Tybalt shows she is scared of revenge towards her betrayal. Her
description of her vision of the tomb reinstates fear within her.
92
Act IV Scene IV

93
Summary

 It is a frenzy in the Capulet house as preparations are made for the
wedding.
 The preparations generate excitement, even Capulet is good-naturedly
joking with the servants.
94
Commentary

 This scene is used to display time passing, from Tuesday night to
Wednesday morning.
 This scene is dramatically placed for the happy and boisterous
confusion to contrast the deep and somber tones of the scenes before
and after it, Act 4 Scene 3 and Scene 5.
 Capulet’s plans and all these preparations have been rendered ironic
by the audience’s knowledge of Juliet’s plan.
95
Act IV Scene V

96
Summary

 The Nurse finds Juliet seemingly dead.
 The Friar arrives and amidst the family’s exclamations of grief, he
takes charge and arranges for her to be carried to the tomb as
planned.
97
Commentary

 The comedic banter between the musicians, and the exaggerated
lamentations of the family prevent the audience’s sympathies to
develop.
 Repetition of “O” in lines such as “O lamentable day” emphasize the
melodramatic nature of this scene.
98
Act V Scene I

99
Summary

 Balthasar brings news of Juliet’s death to Romeo.
 Romeo, overcome by grief, goes to the apothecary and buys a vial of
deadly poison.
 Romeo plans to drink the poison and die beside Juliet in the Capulet
tomb.
100
Commentary

 Romeo believes that he will “defy you stars” by killing himself, however
his suicide secures the lover’s deadly fate.
101
Act V Scene II

102
Summary

 Friar John explains to Friar Lawrence that he was unable to deliver to
Romeo the letter explaining his plan because he was confined in a
house though by health officers to be plague-ridden.
 Friar Lawrence must now go to the vault alone to try to salvage the
plan.
103
Commentary

 This scene shows how quick things have gone wrong since Act 4
Scene 5.
 The sudden dilemma of the plague creates a feeling of inevitability of
their deaths.
104
Act V Scene III

105
Summary

 Paris, who is grieving at Juliet’s tomb, is slain by Romeo.
 Romeo enters the vault and kills himself beside Juliet.
 Friar Lawrence arrives, seeing the bodies of Romeo and Paris, he tells
Juliet to leave.
 When Juliet realizes that Romeo is dead, she refuses to leave and
stabs herself.
 The Watch has been summoned by Paris’s servant, and the families
and the Prince are summoned.
 The Friar explains what has happened, and the scene ends as Capulet
and Montague are reconciled in their grief.
106
Significance

 “For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes This vault a feasting
presence full of light.”
 Romeo describes Juliet’s beauty in the tomb.
 The juxtaposition of the darkness of the tomb and the ethereal radiance
of Juliet presents her beauty.
 Light symbolizes life, it is ironic as Juliet is not actually dead.
 “Beauty’s ensign yet Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, And
death’s pale flag is not advancèd there.”
 Romeo believes that Juliet is dead, and describes her beauty as if it were
alive.
 The dramatic irony further extends the tragic nature of the play.
107
Significance

 “That unsubstantial death is amorous, And that the lean abhorrèd
monster keeps Thee here in dark to be his paramour?”
 Romeo blames death for his jealousy, and how Juliet is so beautiful death
wants her.
 Personification of death.
 Death replaces Romeo as Juliet’s lover.
 “shake the yoke of inauspicious stars”
 Romeo believes that defying the path that fate set before him, he will be
together with Juliet in death.
 The choice of diction “inauspicious” connotes misfortune.
 The yoke is a device used to bind cattle in farming together, Romeo is
trying to defy the boundaries of fate.
 “seal with a righteous kiss A dateless bargain to engrossing death.”
 The kiss seals Romeo’s fate.
108
Significance

 “Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on The dashing rocks thy
seasick, weary bark.”
 Romeo signifies a final end of their love.
 Reflects upon Romeo saying “Direct my sail” in Act 1 Scene 4.
 The plan has failed, the choice of diction “desperate” connotes failure
and catastrophe.
 “A glooming peace this morning with it brings. The sun, for sorrow, will
not show his head.”
 The Prince describes the tragic situation.
 Pathetic fallacy intensifies the tragedy.
 Use of nature shows that their demise was destined.
109
Commentary

 In Romeo’s soliloquy, he transforms from the violent character of Act 5
Scene I to a peaceful and lamenting character, he meditates on Juliet’s
beauty and prepares himself for death. However, it is his impetuosity
that ultimately ends their lives, as when Juliet wakes “Thy lips are
warm.”
 The improbability of such an extraordinary succession of mishaps is
attributed by the Friar to fate, “A greater power than we can contradict
Hath thwarted our intents.” The inevitability of their deaths
encapsulated by Friar’s confession shows the importance of fate and
destiny in Romeo & Juliet.
 The Prince attributes the lover’s deaths to the hatred and conflict that
drove their relationship to such extreme secrecy and caused the
deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt. He uses the shared tragedy that, “For
never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo” to
express pathos to reconcile the families.
110
Commentary

 Although Romeo and Juliet’s love did not survive these series of
mishaps, the play ultimately ends in reconciliation between the two
families. The objective of Friar Lawrence marrying them was achieve,
he had turned the “households’ rancor to pure love”, although at a high
cost.
 In the finale of the play, the Capulets, Montagues and the Prince are
brought together on stage, signifying the importance of the scene. Only
in one other scene, Act 3 Scene 1, are they on together. Whereas in
Act 3 Scene 1, it was the continuance of their feud which had brought
them together, now it is the ending of the feud and their reconciliation
through the tragic death of their heirs. This provides a structured
conclusion to the play, with all parties present.
111
Individual Commentary

Themes & Characters
Love: Romeo

 Love has a transforming effect on both Romeo and Juliet. At the outset
of the play, Romeo is a melancholic and tiresome young man. He
represents Petrarchan love, or the courtly love tradition, which was
fashionable at the time
 Petrarchan love: based on the language of the Italian poet Petrarch. It
established certain literary conventions on how lovers at the time were
expected to act: expressing their feelings in elaborate conceits and
rhetorical phrases. It is very much an elaborate and almost religious
view of love
 Romeo: “The all seeing sun / Ne’er saw her match since first the world
began.”
 Romeo uses oxymorons to convey his confusion and conflicting
feelings. This in turn, while coupled with his extravagant diction, helps
the audience form the impression that Romeo is very much a character
in love with the idea of love itself.
 “O brawling love, O loving hate”
Love: Romeo

 The first time Romeo meets Juliet, his language has a new sense of
tenderness and awe. The usage of light imagery when Romeo first lays
his eyes on Juliet is a recurring motif throughout the play, and is used
to characterize the lover’s passionate and intense attraction
 “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright”
 “Did my heart love till now? Foreswear it, sight! / For I ne’er saw true
beauty till this night.”
 Romeo’s shallow attraction towards Rosaline is instantly replaced by a
deeper and more profound love for Juliet. The Friar is amazed at
Romeo’s fickleness, but although Romeo is prone to lapse into
extravagant metaphors, there is no doubt of the depth of his feeling
Love: Romeo

 Shakespeare reinforces the true nature of his love for Juliet by
choosing not to construct Rosaline as a character but rather use only
her name. The audience will obviously find Romeo’s love for a
character who is never seen on stage less believable than his love for
Juliet.
115
Love: Juliet

 At the beginning of the play, Juliet is modest, subdued and quiet. She
is completely prepared to be ruled by her parents
 “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
 Throughout the play, Juliet uses plain language in direct contrast to
Romeo’s hyperbolic imagery. However, in certain instances Juliet also
uses elaborate metaphors to convey her love for Romeo
 “Take him and cut him out in little stars. / And he shall 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.”
 It is Juliet who first introduces the idea of marriage, and again it is her
who sets Romeo on to arrange it. This is an example of Shakespeare
going against traditional social conventions in order to prove that
Juliet’s love for Romeo is as strong as Romeo’s love for her.
Competing views of love:
Romantic and Unromantic

 Both lovers are constantly surrounded by well meaning people with
different views on the nature of love. They are not constructed as
malevolent or detestable because this would alienate them from the
audience.
 Romantic Love: both Romeo and Juliet sacrifice everything for their
love, which they believe is greater than all other forces in their lives.
 Unromantic Love: Lady Capulet and Lord Capulet have very large
differences in age. This, coupled with the fact that they do not seem to
have much love for each other in the romantic sense, seems to imply
that their marriage was arranged by their parents, which aligns with the
social conventions of the Elizabethan era.

Lady Capulet: “Ay, you have been a mouse-hunt in your time, But I will
watch you from such watching now.”
 Benvolio also displays a sensible, albeit unromantic view of love as
well, encouraging Romeo to “examine seek other beauties” after he is
lovesick over Rosaline.
Sexual Love

 Mercutio and the Nurse are constructed as the foils of Romeo and
Juliet respectively. They contrast in almost every way, from their
demeanor, language and attitudes towards love.
 Both the Nurse and Mercutio utilize bawdy innuendo
 “Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit” – Nurse
 “If love be rough with you, be rough with love” – Mercutio
 “No less! Nay, bigger. Women grow by men” - Nurse
 The Nurse’s disregard for the sanctity of Juliet’s marriage to Romeo is
evident when she suggests that Juliet should marry Paris instead.
 “I think you are happy in this second match, / For it excels your first; or if it
did not / Your first is dead”
Passion and Moderation

 Friar Lawrence – encourages the lovers to act moderately. Ironically, it
is he himself who hastily marries Romeo and Juliet in the hopes that
they will end the feud, and again later in the play he is quick to concoct
an extremely complex plan that depends on the use of an almost
magical elixir.
 “Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.”
 “These violent delights have violent ends / And in their triumph die, like
smoke and powder, / Which as they kiss consume.”
Love and Tragedy

 Ultimately, it is the romantic, passionate love of Romeo and Juliet that
leads to their deaths. The lovers act without forethought, and without
consideration of the consequences of their love, and as a result are
consumed by their love, which eventually leads to their deaths.
 Juliet herself worries that their love is too sudden to be real: “It is too rash,
too unadvised, too sudden / Too like the lighting, which doth cease to be /
Ere one can say ‘it lightens;”
 Some believe that the lovers’ rash disobedience of their parents is the
crux of their tragedy – their decision to marry without their parent’s
consent would have been seen as a serious departure from social
norms at the time.
The Feud

 Shakespeare does not give a cause of the “ancient grudge”,
suggesting that the conflict of the two families is inherently irrational.
Additionally, this prevents the audience from favoring one family over
another, thus creating “two households, both alike in dignity.”
 It is significant that the play opens with violence in I.1, before the
audience meets Romeo or Juliet. This emphasizes the strength of the
feud in Verona.
 Although the feud was started by the older generation, it is significant
that only the younger generation are the ones who actively seek
violence. Indeed, Lord Capulet admonishes Tybalt’s anger at Romeo
during the Capulet party, claiming that “Verona brags of him / To be a
virtuous and well governed youth”, suggesting that even the parents
have become weary of the feud.
The Feud

 In direct contrast to this, Tybalt represents the “new mutiny” aspect of
the feud. It is Tybalt who expresses his dramatic rage in I.5, which is
finally released in III.1. The audience can feel a certain amount of
sympathy for Tybalt, as he has not deliberately caused the feud but
rather has inherited the feud from the older generation, and feels the
need to perpetuate the cycle of violence to uphold his family’s honor
 “What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word, / As I hate hell, all
Montagues, and thee.”
 “Now by the stock and honor of my kin / To strike him dead I hold it not a
sin”
The Feud

 Mercutio’s death in III.1 demonstrates the “civil blood” aspect of the
feud: it is unjust that Mercutio, a kinsman of the Prince and directly
related to neither family, has died as a result of the feud. It is also
tragic in the fact that it has caused Mercutio to curse Romeo, his best
friend.

“A plague o’ both your houses!”
 Were it not for the feud, Romeo and Juliet could have married openly.
Thus, it is the violence that was started by their parents, and
perpetuated by Tybalt that forces the lovers to marry in secret, causes
Romeo to be banished to Mantua, and eventually leads to their
suicides.
123
Fate and Tragedy

 From the onset of the play, it is clear that the lovers are fated to die.
Shakespeare does this to emphasize the tragedy of their love and
colors even happy moments with a constant undercurrent of
foreboding through the usage of symbolism and foreshadowing
 “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their lives”
 “Death marked love”
 “More light and light, more dark and dark our woes.”
 The central irony of the play is that although the audience understands
that the lovers are fated to die, Shakespeare demonstrates their love
as being so powerful and moving that the audience desperately wants
a happy ending, although it realizes that this is impossible
Fate and Inevitability

 Throughout the play it is clear that a series of mischances and
coincidences are working against the lovers, and that they are victims
of circumstances.
 These chance misfortunes, although not entirely realistic, serve an
important dramatic purpose: the constant stream of unfortunate events
creates the impression that a hostile and malign fate is at work.
Through this, a tone of inevitability and foreboding is constantly
restated throughout the play.
 “My mind misgives / Some consequence yet hanging in the stars”
 “He that hath steerage of my course / Direct my sail”
Fate and Inevitability

 Romeo constantly challenges his fate – ironically these challenges only
further serve to fulfill the prophecy made in the Prologue. An
Elizabethan audience would have recognized that fate has a habit of
accepting challenges.
 “And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars / From this world wearied flesh.”
 “Love devouring death do what he dare”
126
Fate: Further Quotes

 It is important that Mercutio’s death at the hands of Tybalt, Friar
Lawrence’s message being undelivered and the fact that the lovers are
born of feuding households are all consequences of improbable
chance.
 This creates the sense that the lovers are not directly responsible for
their fate, but rather are innocent victims of cruel chance.
 These references throughout the play steadily increase the air of
foreboding and strengthens the futility of Romeo and Juliet’s situation
 “O God, I have an ill-divining soul! / Methinks I see thee, now thou art so
low, / As one dead in the bottom of a tomb”
 “I dreamt my lady came and found me dead”
 “A greater power than we can contradict / Hath thwarted our intents”
 “O, I am fortune’s fool!”
 “A plague o’ both your houses”
Death

 One of the most prominent and vivid images Shakespeare creates is
that of Juliet being the bride of death.
 “If he be married, / My grave is like to be my wedding bed”.
 After she hears of Romeo’s banishment, she exclaims “And death, not
Romeo, take my maidenhead.”
 This idea is again seen when Lord Capulet finds Juliet dead: “Death is my
son in law, Death is my heir. / My daughter he hath wedded. I will die / And
leave him all. Life, living, all is death’s”
 “That unsubstantial death is amorous, / And that the lean abhorred monster
keeps / Thee here in dark to be his paramour”
 These constant references always keeps death in the back of the
minds of the audience; they encourage us to expect death as an
inevitable consequence of the lovers’ affair, further proving the
hopelessness of their situation
Romeo

 Romeo begins the play as a gloomy and forlorn character, using the
language of Petrarchan love, which to the audience may appear
insincere
 “Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs”
 “Cold fire, sick health”
 After he meets Juliet, he is suddenly stricken by her beauty. His usage
of light imagery upon seeing her becomes a recurring motif throughout
the play. Although his hyperbolic imagery is still present, the audience
does not doubt the extent of his feelings for Juliet.
 “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”
Romeo

 After the death of Mercutio, Romeo is transformed by a dramatic rage,
which is again seen when he visits Juliet’s grave in V.3
 “Fire eyed fury be my conduct now!”
 “Tear thee joint by joint”
 Romeo is a very impulsive and rash young man, which is seen
frequently throughout the play, first when he is banished, then again
when he attempts to defy his fate
 “And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars / From this world wearied flesh”
130
Juliet

 When we first meet Juliet in II.3, she is a young, obedient and naïve
girl, completely content to be ruled by her parents.
 “But no more deep will I endart mine eye / Than your consent give strength
to make it fly”
 However, when she meets Romeo, she suddenly discovers a deep and
profound love she has never experienced before.
 “Take him and cut him in little stars / And he will make the face of heaven
so fine / That all the world will be in love with the night / And pay no worship
to the garish sun”
 Juliet’s language demonstrates her awareness of the practicalities of
her situation with Romeo, and she speaks much more frankly
 “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”
Juliet

 In III.5, Juliet is abandoned by Romeo, her parents and finally the
Nurse. These desertions are cumulatively very striking, and by the end
of the scene she is the independent, tragic heroine.
 “Thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain”
132
Friar Lawrence

 Friar Lawrence symbolizes the voice of moderation throughout the play
 “Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.”
 “These violent delights have violent ends, / And in their triumph die, like fire
and powder.”
 He is a representative of the Church. Together with the Prince (the
State), they seek to resolve the feud, with the Friar using the marriage
of the lovers to bridge the divide between the two families, whereas the
Prince issues a decree to prevent the violence from escalating out of
control.
 “For this alliance may so happily prove, / To turn your households’ rancor to
pure love.”
 From the beginning of the play, the audience is expected to understand
that the Friar is a trustworthy and honorable holy man. However, the
Friar’s integrity is doubted at key moments in the play, notably before
Juliet drinks the potion
 “What if it be a poison which the Friar / Subtly hath ministered to have me
Mercutio

 Mercutio is constructed as a foil to Romeo, contrasting with him in
several different areas.
 Sexualized view of love – comedic and witty
 “If love be rough with you, be rough with love. / Prick love for pricking you
and beat love down.”
 Mercutio has a very deep anger, which manifests in III.1. In so
assiduously defending Romeo and pursuing the feud, in feeling that
Romeo has lost his honor by refusing to defend his family, Mercutio
demonstrates a false sense of honor for a family he is not even part of,
which ironically will result in the death of his friend.
 “O calm, dishonorable, vile submission”
 “And but one word with one of us? Couple it with something; make it a
word and a blow”
Mercutio

 With the death of Mercutio, the play transitions from its comedic first
half, and the tone of the play is firmly cemented as a tragedy.
 “A plague o’ both your houses.”
135
Nurse

 Much like Mercutio, the Nurse is Juliet’s foil. Like Mercutio, she does
not change throughout the play; like him, she has a humorous and
sexual view of love.
 “No less! Nay, bigger. Women grow by men”
 ““Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit”
 After Juliet meets Romeo, the Nurse’s opinion of him varies greatly, but
eventually she directs Juliet to take Paris as a husband and forget
Romeo.
 “Romeo’s a dishclout to him”
 “I think you are happy in this second match / For it exceeds your first; or if it
did not / Your first is dead”
Nurse

 Although the Nurse still has Juliet’s best intentions at heart, Juliet
reacts badly to the Nurse’s advice. Juliet’s wholehearted rejection of
the Nurse afterwards represents the final stage in her maturation,
completely separating herself from all of her childhood guardians.
Juliet is now a young woman with commitment beyond the Nurse’s
comprehension
 “Thou hast comforted me marvelous much”
 “Ancient damnation! O most wicked fiend!”
 “Thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain”
137
Benvolio and Tybalt

 The characters of Benvolio and Tybalt, the cousins of Romeo and
Juliet respectively, are very simply constructed by Shakespeare for a
very specific purpose: to show the conflict between violence and peace
 Tybalt is portrayed as a character of hatred and violence. He is
responsible for the perpetuation of the feud throughout the play, and
his paradoxical and unparalleled hatred of peace reflects this.
 “I hate the word, / As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.”
 Benvolio is portrayed as Romeo’s confidante. He is more responsible,
and gives Romeo advice on his love.
 “I do but keep the peace: put up thy sword / Or manage it to part these
men with me”
 “The day is hot, the Capulets abroad, / And if we meet, we shall not scape
a brawl; / For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring”
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