From forth the loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows,
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife. (Opening Prologue)
From the play's opening prologue we can garner the events of the play in a nutshell. The ill-fated union of Romeo and Juliet will result in their (and others) deaths, but with this will come an end to the ancient feud between the Montagues and Capulets.
My only love sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me,
That I must love a loathed enemy (I, v)
Juliet speaks with her nurse after meeting Romeo at the conclusion of Act I. She remarks that she fell in love with Romeo right away, and only later discovered that he is a Montague ("known too late"). This quote highlights the heart of the theme in the play: the "star-crossed" lovers.
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
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 (III, ii)
After their initial meeting, the lyrical and imaginitive quality of Romeo and Juliet's love reaches sublime heights. Juliet speaks to herself here while waiting for Romeo, her imagination the stuff of "heaven" and "stars".
O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!
Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!
Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-ravening lamb! (III, ii)
Juliet learns that Romeo has killed Tybalt and vents her anger in good/evil terms. Thus Romeo, is a "serpent" with the face of a flower, a "dragon" in a "fair" cave. Her love for Romeo overcomes her anger shortly after.
And world's exile is death,--then banished
Is death mis-term'd: calling death banishment,
Thou cutt'st my head off with a golden axe,
And smil'st upon the stroke that murders me. ... (III, iii)
Romeo speaks with Friar Laurence after learning of his banishment from Verona. Juliet, in Verona, is his "world" and he likens banishment to exile from the world, and thus death by means of...
(The entire section is 722 words.)
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Essential Passage by Theme: Rebellion
But saying o'er what I have said before:
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.
Younger than she are happy mothers made.
And too soon marr'd are those so early made.
The earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she;
She is the hopeful lady of my earth.
But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart;
My will to her consent is but a part.
An she agree, within her scope of choice
Lies my consent and fair according voice.
This night I hold an old accustom'd feast,
Whereto I have invited many a guest,
Such as I love; and you among the store,
One more, most welcome, makes my number more.
At my poor house look to behold this night
Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light.
Such comfort as do lusty young men feel
When well-apparell'd April on the heel
Of limping Winter treads, even such delight
Among fresh female buds shall you this night
Inherit at my house. Hear all, all see,
And like her most whose merit most shall be;
Which, amongst view of many, mine, being one,
May stand in number, though in reck'ning none.
Come, go with me.
Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 7-34
Lord Capulet, Juliet’s father, is speaking to Paris. Paris is one of the Prince of Verona’s royal kinsmen, which means that he is related to the prince and therefore of royal lineage himself. Paris is interested in marrying Juliet and is quite smitten with her—so smitten, in fact, that he is trying to persuade Capulet to let him proceed with wedding plans, even though Juliet is not even fourteen years old yet (fourteen was the minimum age of consent in the Renaissance). Capulet wants to wait another two years. He feels that his daughter is still too young and naive. Paris is not ready to give up, however. He argues that many women, even younger than Juliet, make “happy mothers.”
Capulet remains adamant. He tries to explain to Paris the reasons why he feels postponing their nuptials...
(The entire section is 1211 words.)
Essential Passage by Character: 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
Banish'd the new-made bridegroom from this city;
For whom, and not for Tybalt, Juliet pin'd.
You, to remove that siege of grief from her,
Betroth'd 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. Meantime I writ to Romeo
That he should hither come as this dire night
To help to take her from her borrowed grave,
Being the time the potion's force should cease.
But he which bore my letter, Friar John,
Was stay'd by accident, and yesternight
Return'd my letter back. Then all alone
At the prefixed hour of her waking
Came I to take her from her kindred's vault;
Meaning to keep her closely at my cell
Till I conveniently could send to Romeo.
But when I came, some minute ere the time
Of her awaking, here untimely lay
The noble Paris and true Romeo dead.
She wakes; and I entreated her come forth
And bear this work of heaven with patience;
But then a noise did scare me from the tomb,
And she, too desperate, would not go with me,
But, as it seems, did violence on herself.
All this I know, and to the marriage
Her nurse is privy; and if aught in this
Miscarried by my fault, let my old life
Be sacrific'd, some hour before his time,
Unto the rigour of severest law.
Act 5, Scene 3, Lines 240-280
Friar Laurence has the unpleasant task of telling the parents of Romeo and Juliet as well as the Prince of Verona how their children and Paris have died. The friar confesses that he had performed the...
(The entire section is 1261 words.)
Essential Passage by Character: Romeo
Art thou a man? Thy form cries out thou art;
Thy tears are womanish, thy wild acts denote
The unreasonable fury of a beast.
Unseemly woman in a seeming man!
Or ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!
Thou hast amaz'd me. By my holy order,
I thought thy disposition better temper'd.
Hast thou slain Tybalt? Wilt thou slay thyself?
And slay thy lady that in thy life lives,
By doing damned hate upon thyself?
Why railest thou on thy birth, the heaven, and earth?
Since birth and heaven and earth, all three do meet
In thee at once; which thou at once wouldst lose.
Fie, fie, thou shamest thy shape, thy love, thy wit,
Which, like a usurer, abound'st in all,
And usest none in that true use indeed
Which should bedeck thy shape, thy love, thy wit.
Thy noble shape is but a form of wax
Digressing from the valour of a man;
Thy dear love sworn but hollow perjury,
Killing that love which thou hast vow'd to cherish;
Thy wit, that ornament to shape and love,
Misshapen in the conduct of them both,
Like powder in a skilless soldier's flask,
Is set afire by thine own ignorance,
And thou dismemb'red with thine own defence.
What, rouse thee, man! Thy Juliet is alive,
For whose dear sake thou wast but lately dead.
There art thou happy. Tybalt would kill thee,
But thou slewest Tybalt. There art thou happy too.
The law, that threat'ned death, becomes thy friend
And turns it to exile. There art thou happy.
A pack of blessings light upon thy back;
Happiness courts thee in her best array;
But, like a misbhav'd and sullen wench,
Thou pout'st upon thy fortune and thy love.
Act 3, Scene 3, Lines 115-150
The day after Romeo marries Juliet with the help of Friar Laurence, Romeo encounters a quarrel in the Verona square between the Capulets and the Montagues. In this instance, it is Romeo’s friend Mercutio in conflict with Juliet’s beloved cousin Tybalt. Romeo, now having a foot in both families, feels obligated to stop the quarrel. He tries to reason with both Mercutio, as a friend, and Tybalt, as...
(The entire section is 1268 words.)
Essential Passage by Character: 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 kill'd 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 damned guilty deeds to sinners’ minds!
‘Tybalt is dead, and Romeo banished.’
That ‘banished,’ that one word ‘banished,’
Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts. Tybalt's death
Was woe enough, if it had ended there;
Or, if sour woe delights in fellowship
And needly will be rank'd with other griefs,
Why followed not, when she said ‘Tybalt's dead,’
Thy father, or thy mother, nay, or both,
Which modern lamentation might have mov'd?
But with a rearward following Tybalt's death,
‘Romeo is banished’— to speak that word
Is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet,
All slain, all dead. ‘Romeo is banished’—
Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 102-129
Romeo, in avenging Mercutio’s death, has killed Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, the day after he and Juliet were married. As a result, he has been banished by Prince Escalus. Though the prince had initially proclaimed a punishment of death on any of the Capulets or Montagues who engaged in public brawls, he converted Romeo’s punishment to banishment because Tybalt had initially instigated the fight and killed Mercutio. Romeo and Juliet’s future plans after their marriage were vague, but now it is clear that they will not be together as they wished.
Juliet has been waiting for her nurse, who was to bring news of Romeo’s instructions regarding their future. Instead, she brings news of Tybalt’s death and Romeo’s banishment. It is a time of great...
(The entire section is 1228 words.)