Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What are quotes from Romeo and Juliet that prove Romeo’s love for Rosaline?

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In the opening scene of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, there's a brawl in the streets of Verona between the family members, friends, and servants of the House of Montague and the House of Capulet. Prince Escalus appears on the scene, reprimands the combatants for rioting in the streets for the fourth time in recent memory, and issues a stern warning to everyone involved.

PRINCE ESCALUS: If ever you disturb our streets again,
Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. (1.1.92-93)

The crowd disperses, and Lord and Lady Montague speak to Romeo's friend, Benvolio, about what might be troubling Romeo. Benvolio says that he saw Romeo that morning in a grove of sycamore trees, but when he approached him, Romeo hid away in the woods.

Lord Montague remarks that he's seen Romeo there in the mornings, too, "With tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew, / Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs" (1.1.128-129) When the sun comes up, Romeo goes back home and closes himself up in his room.

Romeo arrives on the scene, and Benvolio tells Lord Montague "I'll know his grievance, or be much denied" (1.1.153) Benvolio asks Romeo what's been bothering him lately, and Romeo launches into a sad, sorrowful, and overly dramatic tale about how the woman he loves has rejected him.

Their conversation continues into the next scene, with Romeo still yearning for his lost love. Oddly, Romeo never mentions her name. Benvolio assumes, however, that the woman who's broken Romeo's heart and seemingly ruined his life forever is "the fair Rosaline."

Benvolio suggest that Romeo go with him to a feast that the Capulets are hosting that evening. Rosaline is likely to be there, Benvolio tells Romeo, and Romeo can compare her to all the other young women at the party, and perhaps Romeo will find someone else on whom to focus his attention.

Romeo mocks Benvolio for suggesting that there is anyone more beautiful and worthy of his love than Rosaline.

ROMEO: One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun
Ne'er saw her match since first the world begun. (1.2.96-97)

Romeo nevertheless agrees to go to the Capulet's feast with Benvolio, if only to get another look at Rosaline.

Jumping ahead a few scene to act 2, scene 3, to give some background to Romeo's love for Rosaline, Romeo goes to visit his friend and confidant, Friar Laurence. The Friar remarks to Romeo that Romeo looks like he's been up all night.

ROMEO: That last is true—the sweeter rest was mine.

The Friar jumps to a reasonable conclusion.

FRIAR: God pardon sin! Wast thou with Rosaline? (2.3.44-45)

Romeo says that he's already forgotten about Rosaline, and he's now in love with "the fair daughter of rich Capulet." Friar Laurence is confused and a little dismayed by this turn of events and the sudden change in the direction of Romeo's affection. He remembers how many tears Romeo shed over Rosaline, and how much he said he loved her.

FRIAR: Holy Saint Francis! What a change is here!
Is Rosaline, that thou didst love so dear,
So soon forsaken? ...
Hath wash'd thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline!
How much salt water thrown away in waste,
To season love, that of it doth not taste!
The sun not yet thy sighs from heaven clears,
Thy old groans ring yet in mine ancient ears.
Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit
Of an old tear that is not wash'd off yet.
If e'er thou wast thyself, and these woes thine,
Thou and these woes were all for Rosaline.
And art thou chang'd? (2.3.66 -80)

Back to the Capulet's feast, in act 1, scene 5, where Romeo hopes to see Rosaline, but instead sees Juliet, with whom he falls in love at first sight.

What happened to Romeo's all-consuming love for Rosaline? Like Romeo tells Friar Laurence a few scenes later, "I have forgot that name" (2.3.47).

It might be argued that Romeo didn't truly love Rosaline. The Friar, for one, believed that Romeo's feelings for Rosaline were only an infatuation, not true love.

ROMEO: Thou chid'st me oft for loving Rosaline.

FRIAR: For doting, not for loving, pupil mine. (2.3.82-83)

Mercutio, too, doesn't seem to take Romeo's exaggerated declarations of his love for Rosaline very seriously. In act 2, scene 1 (the scene following the Capulet's feast where Romeo met Juliet), Mercutio and Benvolio are looking for Romeo, and Mercutio mocks Romeo's description of Rosaline.

MERCUTIO: Romeo! humours! madman! passion! lover! ...
I conjure thee by Rosaline's bright eyes.
By her high forehead and her scarlet lip,
By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh,
And the demesnes that there adjacent lie,
That in thy likeness thou appear to us! (2.1.9-23)

The last time that Rosaline is mentioned in the play is in a scene with Mercutio and Benvolio that directly follows the scene with Romeo and Friar Laurence. Benvolio and Mercutio are again looking for Romeo, and again they can't find him. This gives Mercutio one more chance to make fun of Romeo's undying love for Rosaline.

MERCUTIO: Why, that same pale hard-hearted wench,
that Rosaline, torments him so that he will sure run mad. (2.4.4-5)

It remains to be seen whether Romeo's love for Juliet is more substantive and lasting than his already forgotten love for Rosaline.

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