Act 5, scene 1 shows the mercurial nature of Romeo. He begins the scene in the best of moods, but this quickly changes when his servant tells him the news of Juliet's death. He quickly becomes rash and heated. He vows to break the conditions of his exile and return to Verona. First, he secures some poison from an apothecary. Throughout this, he remains optimistic. This seems odd, considering the news he just received and his plans to take his own life. However, Romeo seems to feel good about his ill-advised plan because it means reuniting with Juliet.
Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight.
Let’s see for means. O mischief, thou art swift
To enter in the thoughts of desperate men! (5.1.36–38)
In act 5, scene 3, we see Romeo carry out his plan. His actions throughout this scene show his devotion to Juliet. He would rather join her in death than allow her to lie alone in the tomb.
Ah, dear Juliet,
Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe
That unsubstantial death is amorous,
And that the lean abhorrèd monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour?
For fear of that, I still will stay with thee,
And never from this palace of dim night
Depart again. Here, here will I remain
With worms that are thy chamber maids. Oh, here
Will I set up my everlasting rest,
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
From this world-wearied flesh. (5.3.110–121)
The dramatic irony
here is that the audience knows that Juliet is not dead. As a result of this knowledge, the audience is left with the impression that Romeo is rash, reckless, and impatient. His eagerness to take his own life does not just result in his own death, but that of Paris
and Juliet as well. If only he waited a little bit longer, as Balthazar suggests, he might have received the friar's letter informing him of the truth.