How does Shakespeare use Juliet's leaving and returning to reveal more about Juliet's feelings in the balcony scene?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's Juliet is a mixture of caution and passion. In Act I, Scene 5, when she first meets Romeo, who is all passion, she urges him to act naturally, not poetically, and she asks him to swear by the "inconstant moon" in Act II, Scene 2. Now, in this scene Juliet finds herself experiencing conflicting emotions. Certainly, she is troubled that Romeo is the son of her father's mortal enemy; for, as she dreamily contemplates the evening's events, Juliet soliloquizes,

...Romeo doff thy name
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself. 

Of course, when Romeo appears under her balcony, she is terrified for him because if the Capulet guards were to discover him, they would kill Romeo. In addition, Juliet demonstrates more maturity than Romeo, for she tells him she has

no joy of this contract (of love) tonight:
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden

As Romeo continues his passionate profession of love, Juliet grows more nervous, especially when she hears Nurse calling her. But, she tells Romeo to remain because she will return. When she calls to the Nurse that she is coming, but the Nurse is imperative a second time, Juliet rushes Romeo after accepting his suit: "A thousand times good night!"  However, as Romeo starts to walk away, Juliet returns, desiring to call out his name, but fearful of being heard. When Romeo hurries back, she tells him,

...I would have thee gone;
And yet no farther than a wanton's bird
That lets it hop a little from her hand,....
So loving jealous of his liberty.

Juliet fears for Romeo and wishes that he would leave in order to be safe, yet she is possessive of this new love and desires to hold it with his presence--"parting is such sweet sorrow."

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Romeo and Juliet

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