What message did the nurse take to Juliet in Act 2?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act 2, Scene 4, the nurse seeks out Romeo at Juliet's request.  Juliet wants to know what Romeo's intentions are.  Romeo tells the nurse to tell Juliet that he wants to marry her (Juliet) that afternoon.  

Bid her devise
Some means to come to shrift this afternoon;
And there she shall at Friar Laurence' cell
Be shrived and married.

The nurse returns to Juliet to tell her the good news.  The nurse, knowing that Juliet is super eager to hear the news, decides to prolong the delivery of her message.  


I am a-weary, give me leave awhile:
Fie, how my bones ache! what a jaunt have I had!


I would thou hadst my bones, and I thy news:
Nay, come, I pray thee, speak; good, good nurse, speak.


Jesu, what haste? can you not stay awhile?
Do you not see that I am out of breath?


How art thou out of breath, when thou hast breath
To say to me that thou art out of breath?

The nurse's actions are basically the same thing that I do to my own kids on Christmas morning.  The entire scene is quite comical, because the audience sees and hears Juliet practically begging for news of Romeo, but the nurse fends off Juliet each time.  The nurse even asks about Juliet's mother.  Juliet's unrelenting persistence pays off though, and the nurse finally divulges to Juliet that Romeo does indeed want to marry Juliet that afternoon.  The nurse tells Juliet to go to church under the pretense of needing to go to communion.  While out, Juliet will be married to Romeo in Friar Laurence's cell.  

Then hie you hence to Friar Laurence' cell;
There stays a husband to make you a wife:
Now comes the wanton blood up in your cheeks,
They'll be in scarlet straight at any news.
Hie you to church;



andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juliet had earlier requested the nurse to seek out Romeo and inquire what his intentions were: was he prepared to commit himself to marriage or not? The nurse eventually finds Romeo and confronts him with Juliet's inquiry. Romeo tells the nurse that she should inform Juliet to meet him at Friar Laurence's cell that afternoon where they would be married. He also asks her to stay awhile for one of his friends will provide a rope ladder which he would use later that evening to gain entry into Juliet's chamber to consummate their marriage.

Juliet made this request at nine in the morning and was desperately and impatiently waiting for the nurse to return. When the nurse eventually turns up at noon, Juliet is almost frantic. She seeks an immediate response. The nurse, however, teases Juliet by not immediately informing her of Romeo's message. She instead complains about her aches and pains and how arduous her task had been. She consistently avoids responding to Juliet's desperate queries by repeatedly trying to change the topic, causing Juliet to become even more desperate.

The nurse finally informs Juliet about Romeo's request after asking her whether she had leave to take communion that afternoon. Juliet replies in the affirmative and the nurse tells her to use communion as an excuse to go to church and meet Romeo at Friar Laurence's cell where they would be married. The nurse notices Juliet's scarlet blush and further informs her that she (the nurse) has to rush off to fetch the ladder Romeo mentioned. She then instructs Juliet to leave and she would then go to dinner whilst Juliet hurries to Friar Laurence's cell.   

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The nurse told Juliet in Act 2 that Romeo did indeed want to marry her and was to tell her parents that she was going to confession later that afternoon. In reality she would be going to meet Romeo and the Friar at the Abbey to marry.

The nurse brought her the message, but did so in a teasing manner. She took her time by complaining about her back, her headache, being out of breath, and changing the subject to Juliet's mother.

This scene functions as one of the most comedic of the play.

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

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