In act 3, Juliet says, "O serpent heart hid with a flowering face! / Did ever a dragon keep so fair a cave? / Beautiful tyrant! Fiend angelical!" What is the meaning of this quote? 

In Romeo and Juliet, the meaning of this quote is that Romeo has a dark side. Juliet's just found out that Romeo has killed Tybalt. This indicates to her that, beneath his beautiful exterior, Romeo has a less attractive side to his personality.

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In this quote, Juliet uses a series of seeming oxymorons to describe the contradiction she now perceives in her lover, Romeo. Her language is metaphorical: she lays out several scenarios in which something dark and evil is concealed beneath something beautiful, which is now what she believes to be the case with Romeo. Having heard that Romeo has killed Tybalt, a member of Juliet's family and social grouping, she now believes that he has something dark in him which she had not previously expected, because he does not appear to have the capacity for that sort of action.

For example, she describes him as having a "serpent" heart, which was not apparent, because it was concealed beneath a "flowering" face. She does not mean that his face is literally flowering but that it is youthful, flourishing, beautiful. She then compares him to a dragon keeping a "cave" so fair that one would never suspect it of having a dragon in it: Romeo here is the dragon, the monstrous creature lurking within a beautiful place.

She goes on to reiterate this by describing Romeo as a "beautiful tyrant" and an angelic "fiend," again two things which seem contradictory in Juliet's mind. She is appalled by the fact that she has been taken in by Romeo's outward beauty (and grace, and good manners, and other seductive qualities) and not spotted his capacity for this sort of behavior.

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Juliet dearly loved her cousin Tybalt, and the quote shows her reacting with blame and anguish as she hears that Romeo has killed him.

Here, reacting with raw shock to the news, Juliet is initially wholly a Capulet, blaming Romeo for what has happened without knowing all the details. She uses a string of oppositions or paradoxes to convey her fear that underneath a sweet exterior, Romeo has an evil nature. She says a beautiful face hides an evil and deceptive heart, and she compares his destructive soul to a dragon disguising itself in a beautiful cave that it uses to lure people in. She says he is both beautiful and tyrannical, a devil underneath an angelic appearance.

These impulsive and uncensored utterances show how the feud tears people apart, and it also indicates that much of Juliet's attraction to Romeo is based on his looks. She is wondering, in the first shock of grief, if she has made a mistake in falling in love with and marrying him.

As an audience, we know, as Juliet does not, how hard Romeo tried to avoid a fight, and we recognize that he only killed Tybalt because he felt responsible for Mercutio's death and filled with anguish over the loss of this dear friend.

Juliet will come to her senses and quickly repudiate these words about her husband, scolding her nurse when she begins to agree.

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When trying to work out the precise meaning of a quote, it's always important to understand the context in which it was made. In this particular case, Juliet says these words just after she's discovered that her beloved Romeo has killed her kinsman Tybalt.

This shocking news leads Juliet to realize that there's a darker side to Romeo, that beneath the handsome exterior beats the heart of a man prepared to kill. This is what Juliet means when she refers to Romeo as a “serpent heart hid with a flowering face!” Romeo's face may be as beautiful as a flower, but in killing Tybalt, he's revealed himself to have the heart of a snake.

By the same token, Juliet refers to her beloved as a “beautiful tyrant! Fiend angelical!” Both of these epithets neatly illustrate the contradictory nature of Romeo. On the one hand, he's a dashing, devastatingly handsome young man. But on the other, his behavior says something completely different. In killing Tybalt, he's acted in a truly abominable way, just like a tyrant or a fiend.

In her anger at the news of Tybalt's death, Juliet feels that Romeo has turned out to be the exact opposite of what he seemed. Evil was always lurking behind a beautiful facade:

Oh, that deceit should dwell

In such a gorgeous palace!
(act 3, scene 2, lines 85–86)

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Juliet learns that her husband, Romeo, has murdered Tybalt and is in a state of disbelief. She is overcome with anguish and responds to the Nurse by saying,

"O serpent heart hid with a flowering face! Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave? Beautiful tyrant! Fiend angelical!" (Shakespeare, 3.2.74-76).

Juliet feels like Romeo has tricked her and is saying that Romeo is like a snake disguised as a flower. She proceeds to compare Romeo to a malevolent dragon and asks if a dragon has ever kept such a "fair" cave. Metaphorically speaking, the cave that Juliet is referring to is Romeo's attractive body. Juliet then uses two oxymorons to contrast Romeo's opposite character traits. Despite the fact that Romeo is beautiful, his murderous actions are similar to those of a tyrant. Romeo also has angelic features but acts like a fiend. Essentially, Juliet feels like she has been fooled by Romeo's attractive appearance and believes that he is a malevolent person. 

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In Act III Scene I, Romeo kills Tybalt--Juliet's cousin--since Tybalt killed Mercutio.  We also know that Romeo & Juliet are now married (in a rather hasty and secret ceremony).  When the nurse brings news that Romeo slew Tybalt, Juliet responds with the words you mentioned, and a few more.

In her mind, she is hoping she has not been deceived by this Romeo guy; in other words, he might have a "flow'ring face" (meaning "handsome"), but actually have a "serpent heart" in him that would be cruel enough to slay her cousin.

Most of this emotional rant deals with contradictions, or oxymorons, as she tries to understand why such a great guy might kill Tybalt.  In other words, he might be "beautiful", but he could still be a "tyrant"; he might be "angelical", but still be a "fiend".  Basically, her mind is trying to process whether he is good or evil.

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