What is the meaning or significance of Benvolio's speech to Romeo's parents below, lines 122-126 in Act 1, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?I, measuring his affections by my own, Which...

What is the meaning or significance of Benvolio's speech to Romeo's parents below, lines 122-126 in Act 1, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

I, measuring his affections by my own,

Which then most sought where most might not be found,

Being one too many by my weary self --

Pursued my humor, not pursuing his,

And gladly shunned who gladly fled from me. (I.i.122-126)

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In this passage, Benvolio is explaining to Romeo's parents where he last saw Romeo and what Romeo's state of mind appeared to be. Benvolio says that he, himself, was feeling upset about something and went for a walk at dawn. We don't know what Benvolio was upset about, but see it in the line, "A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad" (I.i.116). While out walking, he sees Romeo under a small group of sycamore trees on the west part of town. Benvolio starts walking towards Romeo to join him, but Romeo sees him and runs away, going deeper into the woods, as we see in the lines, "Towards him I made; but he was ware of me / And stole into a covert of the wood" (120-121). Benvolio then says that he used his own instincts, or feelings, to guess that Romeo wanted to be alone at that moment and that Romeo had hid himself where he could not be found, which we see in the lines:

I, measuring his affections by my own,
Which then most sought where most might not be found. (122-123)

The tearm measure in these lines can be translated as meaning to judge, or to interpret. The term "affections" means "inclinations," or desires, or preferences ("Romeo and Juliet," shakespeare-navigators). The phrase "then most sought where most might not be found" can be interpreted to mean that Romeo was looking for a place where he was least likely to be found, meaning that he hid because he wanted to be alone. Hence, we see from these lines that Benvolio is saying that he intuitively understood Romeo's feelings and knew that Romeo had hid because he wanted to be alone.

Benvolio goes on to say that he felt too weary, or disheartened, himself to go after him. Instead he "indulged" his own poor mood by not going after Romeo to ask Romeo why he was feeling poorly as well. We see this in the lines:

Being one too many by my weary self--
Pursu'd my humour, not pursuing his,
And gladly shunn'd who gladly fled from me. (124-126)

The phrase, "Being one too many by my weary self--," can be translated as meaning, "being too weary, or feeling too glum, or too disheartened---." The clauses, "Pursu'd my humour, not pursuing his," can be interpreted as meaning that "he decided to pursue his own mood," or "he decided to cheer himself up" by not pursuing Romeo and asking him why he felt glum.

Hence, we see that Benvolio is telling Romeo's parents that he has not seen Romeo since dawn and that Romeo appeared to be in a troubled state of mind, although he does not know why. This passage is significant because it tells us just how much Romeo is allowing himself to grieve over Rosaline's unrequited love.

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