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In this most beautiful and famous scene from Romeo and Juliet, replete with the light/dark imagery that prevails throughout Shakespeare's lyrical drama, the intense passion of both Romeo and Juliet is evinced. As the scene opens, Romeo steals into the orchard and watches for Juliet under her balcony, expressing his feelings at first in the terms of courtly love:
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek.
Perhaps Shakespeare begins this scene with the formal expressions of love to act as a counterpoint (that is, to offset) to the impassioned ones to come.
- When Juliet first speaks, she does so with emotion, asking the rhetorical question of why he must be a Montague: "...wherefore art thou Romeo?" Further, she argues that a name has only the meaning given to it; there is nothing intrinsic in any name. And, since it has no essential meaning, Romeo can "doff thy name," cast it away, because it is no real part of him.
- Once Romeo speaks to her and Juliet overcomes her initial surprise, she expresses her passionate feelings (these are in bold).
Thou know' st the mask of night is on my face
Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek...
...O gentle Romeo,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully...
In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond [foolishly affectionate],....
But trust me, gentleman. I'll prove more true
Than those that have more cunning to be strange [cold,distant]....
But that thou overheard'st, ere I was ware,
My true loves' passion. Therefore pardon me,
And not impute this yielding to light love, (2.2.84-105)
- Ironically, when Romeo responds with an equally impassioned speech, Juliet cautions him "Oh, swear not by the moon...." However, she quickly returns to her expression of passionate love:
My bounty is a boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite ....(2.2.133-135)
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