What does Romeo mean by the line "lady, by yonder blessed moon that tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops"? What is shakespeare trying to show us? And how could this be significant...

What does Romeo mean by the line "lady, by yonder blessed moon that tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops"?

What is shakespeare trying to show us? And how could this be significant in the balcony scene? Also what does Romeo mean by these words?

Expert Answers
lizbv eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A close reading of the diction in this line shows how Shakespeare accomplishes a few things with this line. First, by referring to the moon and using the word "yonder" which would indicate that the moon is present in this scene, Shakespeare has established the setting as being night time. This would have been very necessary for him to accomplish in terms of the performance of the play.  There was little that could be done during the time of the Globe Theater to achieve the special effects necessary to show it was night time. Therefore, he has to indicate it in the dialogue.   

What Romeo means by these words is that he, in reply to Juliet's request to profess his love to her, swears his love to her by the moon. What is truly significant about this line in terms of the balcony scene as a whole is that Juliet is actually dissatisfied with this answer. She replies that the moon is inconstant and always changing, and therefore she does not want Romeo to swear by the moon because, she believes, it may suggest that his love, too, will be inconstant and change. Therefore, this line suggests Romeo's naivete in "wooing". He did not consider this possibility and perhaps was trying to use what he considered a beautiful and grand image to demonstrate his love. It is interesting that he swears his love by the moon because earlier in this scene he compares Juliet to the sun, shunning the moon and stating that it envies Juliet

sherpeace | Student

Pretty simple, really. The moon is shining brightly onto the tops of the trees. Romeo, as always, makes more out of it than 99% of all humans would. He is a hopeless romantic that is more in love with the idea of being in love than with the person herself (in this case, Juliet, but previously, we saw the same swooning with Rosaline).

Romeo is seeing Juliet in the night so perhaps does not see her clearly just as he doesn't see how dangerous his actions will be for himself OR Juliet.


lit24 | Student

In ActII sc.2 Romeo who has now become infatuated with Juliet  risks his life by climbing a high wall and jumping into the orchard of the Capulet's home. It is late in the night, the moon is shining dimly and both of them can't see one another.

Unaware of Romeo's presence in the orchard Juliet leans out of the balcony window and confesses her love for him and asks him to:"Deny thy father and refuse his name/Or, if thou wilt not,be but sworn my love/And I'll no longer be a Capulet." Romeo at once replies that he would willingly change his name:"Call me but love and I'll be new baptized/Henceforth I never will be Romeo."

After she has recognised Romeo's voice and identified him- although both are not able to see one another -she asks him,"O gentle Romeo/If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully." Atonce, Romeo swears that he loves her:"Lady by blessed moon I swear/That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops..."

Romeo swears on the moon that he loves Juliet. Romeo names the moon as a witness when he pledges his love for Juliet.

 Shakespeare's  plays were performed in the daytime.  Hence, in order to create the scenic atmosphere of night time Shakespeare has to rely on the magic of his poetry. Shakespeare skilfully  uses words to create an intensely dark night dimly lit up by the moon:"the envious moon/Who is already sick and pale with grief."