What does Romeo mean when he says, "Oh dear account! My life is my foe's debt

5 Answers | Add Yours

rowens's profile pic

rowens | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Shakespeare is using a metaphor here wherein Romeo compares his meeting and falling in love with Juliet to a ledger, or a record of debts and payments. As my colleague stated, Romeo has just learned Juliet's identity. She is a Capulet, his families sworn enemy. So, when he says, "Oh dear account! My life is my foe's debt," what he means is that he is forever in debt to his enemy for bringing him his love, Juliet. The account is dear in two ways. Juliet is dear to him. Also, the debt is dear, meaning very costly; he fears his enemy Capulet will not accept his "payment" of love and gratitude--that Capulet will keep him from his dear Juliet.

Enotes has wonderful side-by-side texts for Shakespeare's plays. They have the original text and a modern translation. Check out the link below for the e-text for Romeo and Juliet.

Sources:
bmadnick's profile pic

bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

This is from Act I, Scene 5 when Romeo has just been told that Juliet is a Capulet. He saw her at the party and fell in love with her before he knew her name. He already feels he can't live without her -- "my life" --and realizes he is supposed to hate her since he is a Montague, and she is a Capulet.

harivallath's profile pic

harivallath | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

In Act I Scene 1, Romeo learns from the Nurse that Juliet is from the ‘enemy’ family of the Montagues. He exclaims in dismay that his life is his enemy’s debt, which means that the Montagues have a debt (to themselves) to kill Romeo.  In other words, Romeo will surely be dead if any Montague finds out about his love for Juliet.

Read 'Capulet' for 'Montague'! Sorry...

harivallath's profile pic

harivallath | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

In Act I Scene 1, Romeo learns from the Nurse that Juliet is from the ‘enemy’ family of the Capulets. He exclaims in dismay that his life is his enemy’s debt, which means that the Capulets have a debt (to themselves) to kill Romeo.  In other words, Romeo will surely be dead if any Capulet finds out about his love for Juliet.

harivallath's profile pic

harivallath | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

In Act I Scene 1, Romeo learns from the Nurse that Juliet is from the ‘enemy’ family of the Montagues. He exclaims in dismay that his life is his enemy’s debt, which means that the Montagues have a debt (to themselves) to kill Romeo.  In other words, Romeo will surely be dead if any Montague finds out about his love for Juliet.

We’ve answered 318,979 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question