Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow Meaning

What does Juliet mean by, "Parting is such sweet sorrow"?

Expert Answers
sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poets have long been fascinated by the concept of dialectical emotions--that to be truly happy, one must first be deeply sad; to enjoy the delights of food, one must first experience hunger.  So it is with Juliet's situation. Saying goodbye to Romeo triggers deep sadness, but that sadness also reminds her of her love for hm, and for this reason it is sweet. Saying goodbye also initiates her anticipation of seeing him again, which gives htat emotion a pleasant tingle.  Remember, too, that for Shakespeare "sweet" meant not necessary "pleasing," but also "not offensive," which tempers the romantic meaning of the phrase just a bit.

cmcqueeney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romeo and Juliet are desperate to be together, but at this point in the play (Act II, sceneii), they have not come up with a plan to spend their lives together as they would wish.  Juliet says this line as she is saying goodbye to Romeo.  The oxymoron "sweet sorrow" is created by the combination of Juliet being sad to leave Romeo, which is the 'sorrow' part, yet excited by the idea of seeing him again, which is the sweetness she refers to.

mickey2bailey eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is taking place in the famous balcony scene, Act II, Scene 2.  Romeo nd Juliet have been conversing all night long and they have made an agreement that Romeo will send word tomorrow about when and where they should be married.  She feels sorrow and sadness that they need to say goodbye, but on the other hand what is to come is sweet and beautiful when they shall be together again.

Ada Sison | Student

Juliet does not want Romeo to leave, however she knows that it will not be long before they will be together again. She is in lust with him so much that she doesn't want him to leave.

zumba96 | Student

Since they are desperate to be with each other it is sweet sorrow knowing they will do something or anything to be together and since it will be short. The difference is it counts as a 'sorrow' because they can't stand to be away from each other in the story 

merc6372 | Student

she's sad at leaving romeo

elitenoobzz | Student

It is filled with sorrow because of the idea of leaving Romeo, however, that also means that she will get a chance to meet Romeo, hence giving us the "sweet" part of the oxymoron. 


simontompkins | Student

One can write about the emotions seperately and certainly Shakespeare's ommission of "and" is in keeping with his love of metre. However, there is another sense where sweet tempers sorrows. While Juliet can feel sadness and joy she is also falling in love. Love can transcend normal expectations and experiences such that her sorrow, her moment, is so filled with joy that even her sorrow has a sense of sweetness.To fall in love, to feel such beauty, such shared joy with another that even sorrow is a joy. It is a gift to feel such sorrow for such sorrow is a part of the experience of being in love. To have one is to have the other.


janlynneasher | Student

It is sweet because at the moment of parting love is intensified. Juliet wishes she could say goodnight again and again until the morning comes but, to quote Robert Frost, "Nothing gold can stay".

The sweetest moments in life are fleeting.

outkast | Student

The "sorrow" of leaving a person that you are in love with is temepered by the richness of the emotions that the parting engenders!


richierock | Student

Juliet is referring to the pain that lovers have faced  since time began. She is overjoyed at loving Romeo and amazed at how much it hurts her to have to leave him, the paradox is that without her deep feelings for him parting would not be difficult.

It is therefore delightful that parting can hurt so much.



tankstar | Student

Her and Romeo were departing and she was saying that leaving eachother was sorrow, but the sweet part about it was that they were going to see eachother the next morning.

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Romeo and Juliet

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