How to write a commentary for the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet?
Romeo and Juliet is Shakespeare's longest poem as the entire play is written in iambic pentameter and contains two sonnets. Certainly, Act II, Scene 2, contains some of the most delightfully poetic lines this play.
For one thing, the light/dark imagery which serves the motif that Romeo and Juliet's romance is safer in the night than it is in the day dominates the verse, beginning with Romeo's lines,
But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou her maid art far more fair than she (2.2.2-6)
Throughout this scene Juliet is alluded to in terms of light. Further, Romeo speaks in his first passage in terms of courtly love, much as he has done previously in speaking of Rosaline. For example, his last lines of his first passage are spoken this way:
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek! (2.2.23-25)
Interestingly, Romeo uses the word "kill" in his third line, thus suggesting the violence that will be associated with his and Juliet's love, a violence also suggested in a subsequent scene (Scene 6, 9-15) in the address of Friar Laurence in which he warns Romeo of his too impetuous nature.
This scene is among the most beautiful and moving in all of Shakespeare's works and indeed in all of English literature. Romeo's soliloquy is both eloquent and poignant as he compares Juliet's beauty to the sun, but it is Juliet's speech that steals the scene. She seems to recognize, on some level, that her love for Romeo is doomed, because he is a Montague and he is a Capulet. "Wherefore (why) art thou Romeo," she asks. Her speech demonstrates both her love for the man and her understanding that the feud that makes their love a forbidden one is absurd. Later in the scene, as the two lovers swear their love for one another, Juliet demonstrates that she is, while clearly infatuated with Romeo, very sensible. She makes him swear his love for her and is the first one to bring up the idea of marriage. This scene is a beautiful one, and it is of course crucial to the plot. But what makes the scene so powerful is our knowledge that the two young lovers are doomed. Even as they pledge their fidelity to each other, we know that their love will ultimately bring about their demise. This dramatic irony, set up by the Prologue, suffuses the entire play.