What does Act II, scene 2, lines 4-20 of "Romeo and Juliet" really mean?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here in one of the play's most famous speeches, Romeo uses celestial imagery to describe Juliet.  This use of such imagery is in accord with the light/dark imagery that recurs throughout "Romeo and Juliet."  Romeo declares that the moon, in its bright beauty, is envious of Juliet, who outshines it because she is "the sun" :

That thou her maid art more fair than she (l.6). 

Romeo is so infatuated with Juliet that he feels her beauty is as dazzling as the brightness of the sun.  And, her eyes sparkle as brightly as 

Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,...[that if they needed to go somewhere] do entreat her eyes/To twinkle in their sphere till they return. (ll.15-19) 

Yet, as sparkling and beautiful as these stars are, their beauty would be diminished by Juliet's lovely face: 

The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars (l.19).

Indeed, Romeo is "star-struck" by the celestial beauty of young Juliet.  In an almost worshipful awe, like an astronomer looking at the beauty of the night sky, Romeo is so inspired that he wishes he could just touch her: 

See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!/O, that I were a glove upon that hand,/That I might touch that cheek! (ll.23-25)

Romeo is so in love!