In Romeo and Juliet (Act IV, scene 1), what is the double meaning in Juliet's conversation with Paris?

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noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act IV, scene 2 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, we find Friar Laurence and Paris in the Friar's cell. Paris is explaining to him that his wedding to Juliet will be moved up to the following Thursday. Friar Laurence, however, knows that Juliet has already secretly married Romeo (he himself performed the wedding).

Soon, Juliet herself arrives at the Friar's cell. With the Friar still present and listening, Paris addresses Juliet as if she were already his wife. Juliet responds to him in a friendly way, but she keeps her answers vague because she is already Romeo's wife.

Especially ironic is Juliet's remark to Paris that "I will confess to you that I love him." Juliet's use of the pronoun "him" is taken by Paris to mean that Juliet loves him (Paris), but Juliet is actually saying that she loves him (Romeo).

The entire exchange in this scene between Paris and Juliet is understood in one way by Paris, but in another way by Juliet, Friar Laurence, and Shakespeare's audience, because Paris does not know that Romeo and Juliet are already married.

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Romeo and Juliet

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