Please explain the following quotation from Romeo and Juliet. Who is speaking about what?  I fear too early, for my mind misgives Some consequence yet hanging in the stars Shall bitterly begin his...

Please explain the following quotation from Romeo and Juliet. Who is speaking about what?

 

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.

Asked on by felocan

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The quote beneath the question is Romeo's last speech in Act I scene 4, before he leaves with Benvolio, Mercutio and other friends to attend the Capulet's ball. Romeo is saying this in response to Benvolio's urgings that they all hurry up in case they arrive too late. What is key to realise in this speech is that even at this early stage in the play, before he has even met Juliet, Romeo begins to show some kind of awareness of the forces of destiny and he senses that some event will happen that night at the ball that will result in "vile forfeit of untimely death." Note the following reference he makes:

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...

The "stars" were considered to be very important in Shakespeare's day in terms of mapping out your future and being linked to one's destiny. Romeo clearly senses that his doom is linked to the ball that he is about to go to in one way or another.

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msmcgarron's profile pic

msmcgarron | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Another quote from Romeo and Juliet worth mentioning is:

"O serpent heart hid with a flowering face!
Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
Beautiful tyrant! Fiend angelical!
Dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb!
Despisèd substance of divinest show,
Just opposite to what thou justly seem’st.
A damnèd saint, an honorable villain!
O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell
When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend
In moral paradise of such sweet flesh?
Was ever book containing such vile matter
So fairly bound? Oh, that deceit should dwell
In such a gorgeous palace!"

This is Juliet speaking about Romeo, after he has killed her cousin, Tybalt. The imagery in this extract is animalistic and violent as she refers to Romeo as a 'serpent' and a 'wolf'. But she is metaphorical and paradoxical in her language as she says that he is a 'dragon' who 'keep[s] so fair a cave'. Basically, she thought he was wonderful and handsome but now Romeo has killed her cousin, she is angry and confused. She thinks, how can someone who appears so good (aesthetically and in his actions) do something so terrible. This quotation is representative of Juliet's naivity as well as the fact that she is torn throughout the play in her decisions. She loves Romeo but wants to please her family. She can't do both and has to go one way or the other. The contrasts in this quote represent the decisions she has to make as she supposedly grows from a child to a woman.

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