What is an example of dramatic irony from act 2 of Romeo and Juliet? Dramatic irony occurs when the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play.

One example of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet is Romeo's attempt to dismiss the danger of his and Juliet's relationship: “Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye / Than twenty of their swords! Look thou but sweet, / And I am proof against their enmity” (act 2, scene 2). Romeo tries to reassure Juliet by claiming he is invincible to her family's hostility, but the audience knows that the young lovers are doomed to die.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the context of the prologue given by the Chorus at the beginning of William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, the entirety of the play is an example of dramatic irony in that the audience knows the fate of the characters but the characters do not. As the play progresses, the characters live out their individual and collective destinies based solely on the information that they have at any particular moment in the play.

The dramatic irony of Romeo and Juliet contributes to the conflicts in the play and helps to create humor, dramatic tension, and also suspense, because, even though the audience already knows the outcome of the play, the audience doesn't know how each character will react to each situation in the play that will ultimately lead them to that outcome.

Examples of dramatic irony occur within the overall context of Romeo and Juliet as well. In the prologue to act 2, the Chorus tells the audience that although Romeo and Juliet will encounter difficulties, they'll overcome those "extremities."

CHORUS. But passion lends them power, time means, to meet,
Temp'ring extremities with extreme sweet. (Pro. 2, 13-14)

In act 2, scene 1, on their way home from the Capulets' feast, Mercutio and Benvolio make jokes about Romeo being lovesick for Rosaline. The humor of the scene is derived from the fact that Mercutio and Benvolio are unaware that Romeo is no longer lovesick for Rosaline, but the audience knows that Romeo has fallen in love with Juliet—and at the same party that Mercutio and Benvolio just attended.

In the next scene, Romeo has already jumped the wall into the Capulets' orchard, and he's hiding in the trees when Juliet appears at a balcony window. Juliet thinks she's alone, unaware that Romeo is just a few feet away from her, when she calls out to him that famous line, "O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?" (2.2.35).

Their ensuing romantic scene together is tempered by the audience's knowledge that this meeting will lead to their deaths.

After Romeo and Juliet agree to get married, Romeo hurries to Friar Laurence. In act 2, scene 3, Friar Laurence suggests that Romeo "hast not been in bed to-night" (2.3.43), which is true, but the Friar assumes that Romeo was with Rosaline. Romeo tells the Friar that he's now in love with Juliet, which comes as a surprise to the Friar, particularly when Romeo asks the Friar to marry them that same day.

Friar Laurence agrees to marry them, believing that “this alliance may so happy prove / to turn your households’ rancor to pure love" (2.3.94–95). The situational irony for the characters—the Friar's hope that the marriage of Romeo and Juliet will end the feud between the families actually results in an escalation of the feud, to the detriment of both families—is dramatic irony for the audience. The audience already knows that the relationship between Romeo and Juliet isn't going to end well.

In act 2, scene 4, Mercutio and Benvolio continue to make jokes at Romeo's expense about his love for "that same hard-hearted wench, / that Rosaline" (2.4.4–5), still unaware that Romeo is no longer lovesick for her but is planning to marry Juliet. Mercutio mocks Romeo with a list of tragic heroines from ill-fated love stories, not realizing—although the audience does—that the names of Romeo and Juliet will soon be added to that list.

Juliet's Nurse appears in the scene, and Romeo tells her that he's arranged for Friar Laurence to marry them this afternoon, which, as the audience knows, will seal Romeo and Juliet's fate.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Shakespeare loves dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is when the audience is aware of something the characters in they play are not.

In act 2, Benvolio and Mercutio do not initially know what we as audience members do: that Romeo has fallen in love with Juliet. In scene 4, they rib Romeo about Rosaline, who is now ancient history as far as Romeo is concerned. We remember that his good friends were not on hand when we witnessed the balcony scene.

Dramatic irony occurs as Juliet anxiously asks the Nurse about wedding plans. As audience members, we already know that Friar Laurence will marry the couple, but Shakespeare has the Nurse drag out telling Juliet to the point that she is almost ready to jump out of her skin.

Finally, the friar warns Romeo that love that burns too passionately is destructive. Since we realize from the Prologue that this romance will end badly, we know the truth in the friar's words in a way Romeo cannot. Romeo's lack of moderation will later lead him to commit suicide before thinking through what is going on.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Dramatic irony is when the reader or audience knows something the characters do not.  The main element of dramatic irony throughout the play is that we know that Romeo and Juliet are doomed, while of course the characters do not.

A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;

Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows

Doth, with their death, bury their parents’ strife. (Act I prologue, enotes etext pdf p. 8)

Due to this, we already know that the two will fall in love.  We also know that they are in danger.  When Juliet warns Romeo in Act II, Scene 2, he dismisses it.

Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye(75)

Than twenty of their swords! Look thou but sweet,

And I am proof against their enmity. (Act II, Scene 2, p. 40)

Of course, we do not know how they will be doomed.  We just know they are doomed.

The other dramatic irony in Act II is that in Scene 1 and 4, Mercutio and Benvolio think Romeo is still pining over Rosaline, but the audience knows he is over her and has moved on to Juliet.

In Act II, Scene 2, there is also dramatic irony when Juliet address Romeo thinking that he is not there, when in reality the audience knows he is there but she does not.

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?(35)
Deny thy father and refuse thy name!
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet. (p. 39)

In Act II, Scene 3, when Friar Lawrence realizes Romeo has not been to bed, he replies, “God pardon sin! Wast thou with Rosaline?”  (p. 45)  The audience knows that he is over Rosaline, and was out all night with Juliet, but not committing sin.

 To read the full text, click here: http://www.enotes.com/romeo-and-juliet-text

To read more about dramatic irony, click here: http://www.enotes.com/topic/Irony#Dramatic_irony

To read a summary of the play, click here: http://www.enotes.com/romeo-and-juliet/summary

Citation: Shakespeare, William. "Romeo and Juliet." Enotes.com. Enotes.com. Web. 14 May 2012. <http://www.enotes.com/romeo-and-juliet-text>.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In a play, dramatic irony is where we, the audience, know something that the characters on stage do not. By the time we've reached act 2 of Romeo and Juliet, for instance, we know that Romeo has already got over his infatuation for Rosaline and fallen head-over-heels in love with Juliet.

But Romeo's good friends Mercutio and Benvolio are blissfully unaware of this fact, which is why they indulge a spot of raillery at Romeo's expense at what they still believe to be his infatuation for Rosaline. They don't yet know that Romeo has moved on and fallen in love with someone else. This is despite the fact that Mercutio and Benvolio attended the same party where Romeo first laid eyes on Juliet.

A similar case of dramatic irony comes in the third scene of act 2, where Friar Laurence says that Romeo “hast not been in bed tonight.” Once again, the assumption, which we in the audience know not to be the case, is that Romeo was with Rosaline. Friar Laurence, like Benvolio and Mercutio, has not been able to keep up with this significant change in Romeo's love life. No wonder, then, that when Romeo tells Friar Laurence that he's in love with Juliet, the Friar is surprised.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows what the characters in a play do not.

As an audience, we are well aware by act 2 that Rosaline is history as far as Romeo is concerned, because he has fallen head over heels in love with Juliet. Romeo's friends, however, have not caught up with the new set of affairs. Why would they? Just a few hours ago, Romeo was insisting that Rosaline was the only woman in the world for him. No other woman in the world would ever compare to Rosaline.

Thus, we encounter dramatic irony in act 2, scene 4, as Mercutio and Benvolio wonder what became of the missing Romeo. Mercutio says,

Why, that same pale hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline,
Torments him so, that he will sure run mad.
This is dramatic irony, for we know that Rosaline is no longer tormenting Romeo.
At the beginning of scene 5, dramatic irony again occurs. We know that the nurse and Romeo have successfully connected and set into motion the marriage plan, but the anxious Juliet does not yet have this information. She is on tenterhooks, not knowing what her nurse learned, so dramatic irony is in play when Juliet, worried about bad news, says:
Though news be sad, yet tell them merrily.
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Dramatic irony occurs when there is a contradiction between what a character thinks and what the audience knows to be true. Along with the two examples in the above post, there are three other instances of dramatic irony in Act II. In Scene 3 the Friar initially believes that Romeo is still in love with Rosaline and, because he sees that Romeo has been up all night, asks if Rosaline is the reason. He soon learns that it was Juliet who kept Romeo awake.

In Scene 4, Mercutio and Benvolio are also still under the impression that Romeo is hopelessly in love with Rosaline. Mercutio comments,

Alas, poor Romeo, he is already dead,
stabbed with a white wench’s black eye, run
through the ear with a love-song, the very pin of his
heart cleft with the blind bow-boy’s butt shaft.
Mercutio is right in one respect. Romeo has been shot with Cupid's arrow, but he is now in love with Juliet and not Rosaline.
 
In the same scene Juliet's nurse shows up to speak to Romeo in the streets of Verona. She has been sent by Juliet to discover Romeo's plans for their wedding. Mercutio treats her disrespectfully and taunts her. Mercutio insults her appearance, saying,
Good Peter, to hide her face, for her fan’s
the fairer face.
Mercutio and the Montague men are unaware of the real reason for the Nurse's appearance and why she wishes to speak with Romeo. Only the audience realizes she has become a confidant in the couple's plan to secretly marry. In fact, only the Nurse and Friar Laurence know about the couple until the very last scene of the play.
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The very first example of dramatic irony occurs in Act 2, scene 1 when Benvolio and Mercutio are looking for Romeo after the Capulet’s party.  They are in the Capulet orchard making comments about Romeo’s love for Rosaline.  The reason this is dramatic irony is because the audience knows that Romeo is no longer in love with Rosaline; he’s in love with Juliet.

A second example would be in Act 2, scene 2 when Juliet is standing on her balcony.  She thinks that she is simply talking to herself about how she feels about Romeo and how she wishes he was not a Montague.  Since Romeo is standing right there but she does know it and the audience does, this is dramatic irony.

 

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on