What moments of dramatic irony occur in Act II of Romeo and Juliet?

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dneshan | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The very first example of dramatic irony occurs in Act 2, scene 1 when Benvolio and Mercutio are looking for Romeo after the Capulet’s party.  They are in the Capulet orchard making comments about Romeo’s love for Rosaline.  The reason this is dramatic irony is because the audience knows that Romeo is no longer in love with Rosaline; he’s in love with Juliet.

A second example would be in Act 2, scene 2 when Juliet is standing on her balcony.  She thinks that she is simply talking to herself about how she feels about Romeo and how she wishes he was not a Montague.  Since Romeo is standing right there but she does know it and the audience does, this is dramatic irony.


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mercut1469 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Dramatic irony occurs when there is a contradiction between what a character thinks and what the audience knows to be true. Along with the two examples in the above post, there are three other instances of dramatic irony in Act II. In Scene 3 the Friar initially believes that Romeo is still in love with Rosaline and, because he sees that Romeo has been up all night, asks if Rosaline is the reason. He soon learns that it was Juliet who kept Romeo awake.

In Scene 4, Mercutio and Benvolio are also still under the impression that Romeo is hopelessly in love with Rosaline. Mercutio comments,

Alas, poor Romeo, he is already dead,
stabbed with a white wench’s black eye, run
through the ear with a love-song, the very pin of his
heart cleft with the blind bow-boy’s butt shaft.
Mercutio is right in one respect. Romeo has been shot with Cupid's arrow, but he is now in love with Juliet and not Rosaline.
In the same scene Juliet's nurse shows up to speak to Romeo in the streets of Verona. She has been sent by Juliet to discover Romeo's plans for their wedding. Mercutio treats her disrespectfully and taunts her. Mercutio insults her appearance, saying,
Good Peter, to hide her face, for her fan’s
the fairer face.
Mercutio and the Montague men are unaware of the real reason for the Nurse's appearance and why she wishes to speak with Romeo. Only the audience realizes she has become a confidant in the couple's plan to secretly marry. In fact, only the Nurse and Friar Laurence know about the couple until the very last scene of the play.

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