In Romeo and Juliet, how does Juliet's soliloquy in Act 2.5 present the old and the young?

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juliet waits for the nurse to return from meeting Romeo. The nurse went off at 9 o clock, and promised to be back in half an hour. It's now midday, and Juliet is getting frustrated:

O, she is lame! Love's heralds should be thoughts,
Which ten times faster glide than the sun's beams...

Old people are lame, and slow. And the people who carry the messages of young love ("Love's heralds") should be thoughts - Juliet longs for her messages to be zapped to Romeo at the speed of thought, faster than light. Young people are fast.

...from nine till twelve
Is three long hours; yet she is not come.
Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
She would be as swift in motion as a ball;
My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
And his to me

Juliet portrays herself as a young person, with "affections" (romantic attractions) and passionate, warm, youthful blood. This would mean, she thinks, that she could be as fast, getting to Romeo, as a ball could. Again, Juliet longs to be able to talk to Romeo at speed.

The nurse, by contrast, an old person, can't have affections and must be cold-blooded. And to conclude, at the end of the soliloquy, Juliet gives us some adjectives for old people:

But old folks, many feign as they were dead—
Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead.

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Romeo and Juliet

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