Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What fears does Juliet reveal in her soliloquy (speech) in Act IV Scene iii?

As she prepares to drink the sleeping potion prepared for her by Friar Lawrence, Juliet fears that it might actually be poison, that it might not work (which means she will have to marry Paris), or that it might wear off early, leaving her to wake up in a tomb and go mad with fear. However, in spite of all these risks, she still decides to drink the potion.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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First and foremost, Juliet is worried that the powerful sleeping potion given to her by Friar Laurence might not actually work. Because then she'd have to yield to her parents' wishes and marry Paris in the morning, and that's the last thing Juliet wants. But if the worst comes to the worst, Juliet is determined that it won't happen, anyway. She's already decided to stab herself to death with a knife if things don't go according to plan:

No, no. This shall forbid it. Lie thou there. (Act IV, Scene iii).

Then, after laying down the knife, she starts getting paranoid. What if Friar Laurence mixed the potion to kill her? Who knows what's really in that little vial? However, Juliet quickly comes to her senses and realizes that the Friar is a good and holy man who'd never do anything like this in a million years.

Still, Juliet continues to be worried. What happens if she wakes up before Romeo's had a chance to ride to her rescue? Won't she suffocate in that tomb with all that fetid air? And even if she lives, won't she be surrounded on all sides by death and darkness? Juliet is scared stiff that when she wakes up in the tomb she'll be able to smell the hanging odor of death and hear the ghostly screams of her ancestors. She's worried that this will drive her completely mad and make her do something crazy like pulling Tybalt's corpse out of his burial shroud or smashing in her skull with one of her ancestor's bones.

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I am assuming you mean Act IV scene 3 as you didn't state the Act in your question. I have edited your question for you. This soliloquy of Juliet comes as she is just about to take the potion that Friar Lawrence has given her and supposedly fall asleep to be revived by her beloved Romeo and successfully trick everyone into believing that she is dead and therefore escape marriage with Paris.

In this speech we cannot help but admire Juliet and her strength of character. She comes up with a number of reasons why she should not take the potion, suspecting Friar Lawrence of giving her poison to avoid blame for marrying Romeo and Juliet or if the potion doesn't work well and she wakes up early in the tomb before Romeo gets there and is driven mad by fear.

However, drinking the potion represents Juliet taking her life into her own hands. She is fully aware of the dangers, yet she chooses to drink the potion anyway, attempting to beat the forces that are so implacably opposed against her union with Romeo. Note here that drinking the potion is an obvious foreshadowing of Romeo drinking the poison.

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dorobucci | Student

where is juliet when she takes the portion

macym33 | Student

She fears that the potion wont work and she will have to marry paris, that the friar poisoned the sleeping potion so that he wouldnt be looked down upon for marrying her to Romeo, that she wakes up before Romeo gets to her, that she suffocates in the vault; she also fears having to see her dead ancestors, including Tybalt and his bloody corpse, and their ghosts, and she fears of having to smell and hear death/ghosts, and that she will go crazy from the memory of waking up in a tomb.