What quotes from Romeo and Juliet describe Romeo's appearance?

There are few quotes from Romeo and Juliet that describe Romeo's appearance. Juliet remarks on his perfection in act 2, scene 2. Lord Capulet comments on his noble demeanor in act 1, scene 5. The Nurse gives the most detailed description of Romeo's good looks in act 2, scene 5.

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Shakespeare never actually tells us exactly what Romeo looks like, but he does give us some intriguing hints. Juliet, for example, is certainly attracted to Romeo. According to her, Romeo has a “dear perfection” in everything except his name. If only he were anyone but a Montague, he would be just right! We can assume that his “dear perfection” likely extends to his looks, for a young lady like Juliet is sure to pay attention to such things.

Juliet's Nurse seems to agree with Juliet's assessment of her new beloved, and she adds her own twist to it by remarking that

his face be better than any man's, yet his leg excels all men's; and for a hand, and a foot, and a body, though they be not to be talked on, yet they are past compare...

In other words, according to the Nurse, Romeo is quite a fine-looking, well-constructed fellow. Juliet has made a good choice, the Nurse suggests, at least as far as looks go, and since the Nurse helps Juliet arrange for her marriage to Romeo, she seems to have deemed him worthy in other ways as well.

Further, Romeo is of noble birth, and while this doesn't tell us what he looks like, it does help us understand how he carries himself. Even Lord Capulet notices Romeo's presentation. “He bears him like a portly gentleman,” Capulet notes. Romeo stands tall. He is graceful and courteous. He looks and acts the part of a nobleman, poised, composed, assured, and elegant.

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William Shakespeare never actually provides stage directions that describe the appearance of Romeo. It is actually uncommon for playwrights to give detailed physical descriptions of characters, as this would make casting the parts more difficult. There are a few subtle clues as to what his appearance might be in several lines of dialogue which we will examine here. However, most descriptions concern Romeo's personality and characterization, not his physical appearance. Therefore, what Romeo looks like is mostly left up to the reader to imagine or the casting director to decide.

We can assume that Romeo is a good-looking young man. Juliet certainly thinks so, and the Nurse agrees. In fact, the most thorough physical description of Romeo comes from the Nurse in act 2, scene 5:

Well, you have made a simple choice. You know not how to choose a man. Romeo! No, not he, though his face be better than any man’s, yet his leg excels all men’s, and for a hand and a foot and a body, though they be not to be talked on, yet they are past compare (2.5.38–43).

Although there is nothing specific mentioned here about Romeo's appearance, it is enough to tell us that, at least in the opinion of the Nurse, Romeo is one of the best-looking men in Verona.

Juliet certainly agrees with the Nurse's assessment. However, she never goes into as much detail. The best description that Juliet gives of Romeo is to comment on his perfection in act 2, scene 2.

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title (2.2.45–47).
Juliet may mean this perfection to apply to Romeo's appearance. She is certainly smitten by him and his looks, which are perfect as far as she is concerned.
When Romeo crashes the Capulet ball in act 1, scene 5, Lord Capulet also shares his opinion of the young man. His description pertains more to how Romeo comports himself as the gentleman of noble birth that he is rather than a description of his appearance.
He bears him like a portly gentleman (1.5.65)
Although Romeo has come to his enemy's party uninvited, Lord Capulet has decided to let it slide because Romeo behaves and appears appropriately. By this short description, the reader/audience can assume that Romeo is well dressed and appears as one would expect someone of nobility should.
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To get a physical description of Romeo like we would offer today will be difficult, but you can certainly retrieve descriptions that determine his emotional appearance which shows his body language:

So early walking did I see your son:
Towards him I made, but he was ware of me
And stole into the covert of the wood:
I, measuring his affections by my own,
That most are busied when they're most alone,
Pursued my humour not pursuing his,
And gladly shunn'd who gladly fled from me.

Benvolio said this of Romeo in Act I, scene i. This shows a fleeing Romeo who hides from others. A few lines later, Montague discusses what Romeo does in his room and this further creates that emotional appearance.

In Act I, scene v, Tybalt's first words describe Romeo as having an "antic face". Then Capulet describes Romeo like this:

He bears him like a portly gentleman;
And, to say truth, Verona brags of him
To be a virtuous and well-govern'd youth

In Act II, scene ii, Juliet calls him perfect in these lines:

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.

In Act II, scene iv, Juliet is trying to discover what the Nurse found out about their upcoming marriage. The Nurse calls Romeo pretty hot stuff in these words:

though his
face be better than any man's, yet his leg excels
all men's; and for a hand, and a foot, and a body,
though they be not to be talked on, yet they are
past compare: he is not the flower of courtesy,
but, I'll warrant him, as gentle as a lamb.

This is your best physical description. As you get further into any work, authors stray from description. They spent time in the beginning on that. So if you are going to look for more than these, I suggest Acts I and II.



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