The following questions relate to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet:1) How do Benvolio and Mercutio describe Romeo’s actions? What do they think...

The following questions relate to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet:

1) How do Benvolio and Mercutio describe Romeo’s actions? What do they think made him “run away”? Are they accurate in their assessment of his behavior?

2) Is the love expressed in Romeo and Juliet’s soliloquies genuine?

3) Why is Friar Lawrence skeptical of Romeo’s new love? Why does he agree to marry Romeo and Juliet? 

Expert Answers
andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. Benvolio and Mercutio go in search of their friend at the start of Act 2. Mercutio believes that he has hurried home, but Benvolio corrects him by saying that he jumped over an orchard wall. They then cry out to him but get no response. They later give up and leave. Benvolio quips:

Come, he hath hid himself among these trees,
To be consorted with the humorous night:
Blind is his love and best befits the dark.

The two believe that Romeo has sought out a place where he can sulk undisturbed because he has been rejected by Rosaline. They think that he is dejected because of this and, therefore, does not wish to be disturbed and has sought comfort in the dark where no one can find him.

They are wrong, though, because Romeo has vaulted the wall of the Capulet orchard to see Juliet. The two had met at the Capulet's ball earlier and were smitten with each other. Romeo's only concern at this point is Juliet, and he seems to have forgotten about Rosaline.

2. When Romeo, who is hiding in the orchard, sees Juliet appear at an open window, he waxes lyrical about her beauty and utters exaggerated comparisons to describe her, such as:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun...

...The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night...

Romeo compares her to light since she has brought light into his soul. The illumination she has brought has washed away his sorrow, for he is enlightened and emboldened. The darkness of his depression has been overwhelmed by her glorious luminescence. The metaphoric images that he paints here clearly indicate his overwhelming infatuation and he wishes to be only with her, as he says:

It is my lady, O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!

See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!

Romeo desperately wants her to know how he feels and feels and expresses an overwhelming need to be close to her.

In a similar vein, Juliet, when she speaks, utters the following sentiment:

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet...

She has learnt that Romeo is a Montague, the sworn enemy of her family, and wishes that he would reject his name or alternatively, that he would swear to love her and she would then repudiate her identity to be with him. She further states that a name is meaningless since it can mean just about anything - there is nothing to it, and she ends by declaring:

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

She vows that she would take all of Romeo for herself if he should get rid of his name.

These two soliloquies are obvious indications of the two youngsters' infatuation with one another. One must appreciate that Romeo is, to a certain extent, on the rebound, having been rejected by Rosaline. The fact that he could so easily 'fall in love' again indicates his immaturity. He obviously feels something for Juliet, but one can hardly call it genuine love, for it has happened too suddenly and too soon. In fact, it is more of an emotional ointment with which he is salving his wounds.

Juliet, on the other hand, has never experienced romantic love. Romeo is her first love interest and she would, therefore, naively believe that she is genuinely in love. The desire to be with him and be his one and only are only the innocent pangs of desire an inexperienced young girl would experience. The two, in this instance, are experiencing overemphasized sentiments which they, in their naivety, believe to be genuine love. 

3. The friar is skeptical because Romeo had been constantly complaining to him about his unrequited feelings for Rosaline. He tells Romeo in scene three of Act 2:

Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!
Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,
So soon forsaken? young men's love then lies
Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.

The friar is suggesting that Romeo does not love with his heart, but with his eyes. He is guided by what he sees and not by what he feels, which, obviously, is something superficial. The friar cannot understand how Romeo could have wept so many a tear for Rosaline and now, suddenly, have had such a sudden change of heart.

The friar agrees to marry the two lovesick youngsters since he sees their conjoinment as a solution to end the feud between the warring Capulets and Montagues:

For this alliance may so happy prove,
To turn your households' rancour to pure love.

The friar is much too eager to marry the two and he is naive in believing that the solution to an 'age old' feud could be fashioned as easily as through a wedding. Added to this is also the fact that everything will be done in secret, which can only lead to greater resentment and bitterness from both families. As a trusted and respected member of the priesthood, there is also the moral aspect of his actions to consider. The friar's decision seems much too impulsive and lacks clear thinking and consideration and, as the unfolding events later prove, is a huge error of judgement on his part.