In Juliet’s soliloquy from act 3 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is eagerly awaiting Romeo’s arrival. She married Romeo in secret earlier that day, and they will spend the night together. The imagery used in this soliloquy reflects her great impatience for night to hurry up and arrive, so she can finally be with Romeo:
Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Towards Phoebus’ lodging!
She calls on horses of the sun god Phoebus to finish dragging the sun across the sky in order for night to arrive. Once the cover of night arrives, she and Romeo will be hidden and can finally be together. She personifies night as a “sober-suited matron all in black,” and she wants to ask this matron:
How to lose a match
Played for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.
She wants to lose her virginity to Romeo. Expressing this sexual desire makes her blush, and so she asks that night also cover that “unmanned blood, bating in my cheeks” until she can feel comfortable with her desires.
She then calls on Romeo. “Come night. Come, Romeo. Come, thou day in night.” This repetition emphasizes her urgent desire, as she continues to call, “Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-browed night.”
In the middle of the soliloquy, her thoughts suddenly shift to death:
When he shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
This use of light and dark imagery recalls earlier scenes, such as act 1, scene 2, when the Montagues are describing their depressed son, who locks himself in his dark room, making himself an “artificial night.” It also recalls the balcony scene, when Romeo sees Juliet and compares her to the sun, saying she is the brightest thing in the heavens, unlike the “envious moon.” Her eyes are brighter than the stars, which have “entreated” her eyes to twinkle in their place. Romeo and Juliet see each other’s beauty as overwhelming the heavens.
The soliloquy closes with the image of Juliet as
... an impatient child that hath new robes
And may not wear them.
She is married, but she has not enjoyed the physical pleasures that marriage offers.
The irony is that Juliet, in her feverish excitement, has no idea what has happened. The nurse enters after this speech with the devastating news of the fight between Tybalt and Romeo, which has resulted in the death of her cousin and the banishment of her husband. Everything has changed.