From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, when Nurse says that Paris is a flower, what does she mean by this metaphor?

Expert Answers
tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In act 1, scene 3 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Juliet's mother tells Juliet that the County Paris has been asking for her hand in marriage. Both Juliet's mother and the nurse are excited because he is handsome and wealthy. The nurse says the following to Juliet about him:

"A man, young lady, lady, such a man

As all the world--why, he's a man of wax.

. . . he's a flower, in faith a very flower" (I.iii.77-78, 80).

Juliet's nurse first mentions that he is a "man of wax," which is to say that he is perfectly sculpted. His appearance is handsome and it would seem that he has no flaw to speak of. Juliet's mother says, "Verona's summer hath not such a flower" (I.iii.79) which means that there is no one in Verona to rival Paris as far as appearance and quality of character are concerned. The nurse's comment immediately thereafter, however, is somewhat sarcastic. When the nurse says that Paris is "a very flower" she is suggesting that he is also experienced and more mature. Paris is older than Juliet. Juliet might be considered a flowering bud compared to Paris's age and experience, for example. Thus, referring to flowers (and the birds and the bees) the "very flower" comment could also be connected to Paris's sexual experience as well as his age and unique position in the community.