What is Romeo's real reason for sending Balthasar away from the tomb in the final scene of Act 5 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In the final scene, Romeo appears to be sending Balthasar away from Juliet's tomb because Romeo wants privacy. Romeo threatens Balthasar's life if he interferes with Romeo while he is inside the tomb, saying,

Upon thy life I charge thee,
Whate'er thou hearest or seest, stand aloof
And do not interrupt me in my course. (V.iii.25-27)

Romeo appeases Balthasar by saying that his reasons for wanting to be in the tomb are to see Juliet's face one last time and to take his wedding ring off her finger, however, we know this is a lie.

Romeo's real reason for sending Balthasar away is that he has plans to kill himself with a vile of poison that he has just procured from the apothecary in the first scene of this final act. As we all know, death by poison can actually be quite brutal, even excruciating. Hence, Romeo's real reason for sending Balthasar away from the tomb is that Balthasar may hear Romeo suffering and try to prevent him from committing suicide. Romeo does not want anyone to interfere with his plans for death.


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