Explain Romeo's speech in act 1, scene 4 of Romeo and Juliet (lines 106–113).

Romeo's speech in act 1, scene 4 of Romeo and Juliet serves as a kind of premonition. Romeo has a bad feeling about attending the Capulets' party and is reluctant to go. He senses that the party will be the start of something bad. He's right, because at that party, he'll fall in love with Juliet, with whom he's destined to suffer a tragic fate.

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Romeo accompanies Benvolio and Mercutio to the Capulet party, but he is filled with misgivings. He tells Mercutio that it is "no wit"(not a bright idea) to go the party. When Mercutio asks why, Romeo replies he had a dream the night before. Mercutio says that dreams often lie. Romeo responds,

In bed asleep ... they [people] do dream things true.

Mercutio then tells of the false ideas Queen Mab puts into people's heads while they sleep, but he is unable to shake Romeo's sense of foreboding, which Romeo returns to in lines 106–113. Romeo insists that he has a bad feeling about the party, saying that

Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date.
Stating that a consequence "hanging in the stars" is about to be set in motion shows that Romeo believes in fate or destiny. Unfortunately, the destiny he has truly glimpsed in his dream is one of "untimely death."
This speech foreshadows the early deaths the teenaged Romeo will suffer within a few days. It ties in with and repeats the theme of the prologue, which refers to Romeo and Juliet as "star-crossed lovers." Fate is against them, the prologue states, and they will come to early deaths. Comic and romantic as much seems early in the play, this is a reminder that we are experiencing a tragedy beginning to unfold. All of his unpleasant thoughts, however, will soon be driven completely out of Romeo's mind as he sees and falls instantly in love with Juliet.
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Poor old Romeo's feeling rather down in the dumps, as he's not making much headway with Rosaline, for whom he's developed an infatuation. In order to cheer him up, his good friends Benvolio and Mercutio urge him to come along with them to the Capulets' party. They hope that Romeo will have a good time there and forget all about Rosaline.

Romeo, however, is far from enthusiastic. Not only is he not in the party mood, he also senses that going to the party will be the start of something bad. He doesn't know quite what that something is, but he feels pretty uneasy about it all the same, not least because he's convinced that it will end in his own tragic demise:

Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night’s revels, and expire the term
Of a despisèd life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death. (I, iv, 108–12).

Sadly, Romeo's absolutely right. At the Capulets' party, he first lays eyes on, and falls head over heels in love with, Juliet. In some respects, this is a good thing, as it brings Romeo untold happiness. It also has the very happy consequence of making him forget all about Rosaline.


But in the end, the love between Romeo and Juliet leads directly to their tragic, untimely deaths, so Romeo's premonition turned out, unfortunately, to be all too accurate.

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This speech is essentially Romeo's "Something's Coming" moment. In this scene, Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio are all headed to crash the Capulet party. Though going to see Rosaline, Romeo appears to have given up hope of making Rosaline fall in love with him and is only joining his friends so that he can sulk:

I am too sore enpiercèd with his shaft
To soar with his light feathers, and so bound,
I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe.
Under love’s heavy burden do I sink. (1.4.19-21)
After Mercutio attempts to cheer him up with his Queen Mab speech, Romeo gives the speech in lines 106–113:
I fear too early, for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night’s revels, and expire the term
Of a despisèd life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
But he that hath the steerage of my course,
Direct my sail. On, lusty gentlemen.
Romeo is saying that he has a feeling the upcoming masque is more than just a party; he has a feeling that something written in the stars is going to transpire. This is an indicator to the audience that something very big is about to happen.
Romeo also alludes to "untimely death," a fate that strikes Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Juliet, and, of course, himself.
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For the avoidance of confusion, I will first paste act 1, Scene 4, lines 106-113 below, indeed a speech by Romeo:

I fear, too early, for my mind misgives

Some consequence yet hanging in the stars

Shall bitterly begin his fearful date

With this night’s revels, and expire the term

Of a despised life clos’d in my breast

By some vile forfeit of untimely death.

But He that hath the steerage of my course

Direct my sail! On, lusty gentlemen!

What Romeo is saying here is that he has a strange feeling that "some consequence yet hanging in the stars"—that is, something that is fated—will be set in motion "with this night's revels." He fears that whatever happens at the ball will only be the beginning of something which will, in the end, "expire the term / Of a despised life clos'd in my breast." Effectively, he fears that in going to the ball, he will somehow be sealing his own fate, which will end with his "untimely death." This premonition foreshadows what happens later on in the play, because, of course, Romeo is about to meet Juliet, and it is this meeting which will set in motion the tragic events of the rest of the play.

However, despite this strange feeling, Romeo still goes to the ball, trusting that fate cannot be altered, but is in the hands of God: "He that hath the steerage of my course." God is the one who has determined the path Romeo will travel, so Romeo cannot do anything to alter it.

This speech can be compared to Romeo's final speech at the end of the play, when, having laid Paris in the grave with Juliet, he determines to "shake the yoke of inauspicious stars"—defy fate, or at least claim some agency in his own destiny—by killing himself, thus determining the time of the "untimely death" he somehow knew was coming.

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