What is the effect of the parallelism in Act 3 Scene 2 (Line 96-97) of Romeo and Juliet?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This scene takes place just after Juliet's nurse has informed her that Romeo has killed her cousin, Tybalt.  The nurse asks Juliet, "Will you speak well of him that killed your cousin?"  And Juliet's response, "Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?" echoes the structure of the nurse's initial question.  The effect of this parallelism is that it bluntly exposes the paradox within which Juliet is trapped: how can she feel love for the man who killed her kinsman?  Yet how can she hate the husband that she loves?  Obviously, anyone who murders her beloved cousin in the streets should be her enemy as well, but she is duty-bound to honor and love her husband as she has taken an oath before him, the friar, and God.  How can she do both?  The parallelism, besides emphasizing her impossible position, also shows Juliet's intelligence in that she understands the position she's in. 

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Romeo and Juliet

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