What does Romeo mean by the line "I am not a pilot" in Romeo and Juliet?  

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romeo is comparing himself to the pilot of a ship.

Juliet asks Romeo how he found her, and he explains that he found her by love.  He explains that even though he is not a pilot, he would find her even on a vast sea.

By love, who first did prompt me to inquire;
He lent me counsel and I lent him eyes.
I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as far
As that vast shore wash'd with the farthest sea,
I would adventure for such merchandise. (Act 2, Scene 2)

Romeo’s metaphor is intended to show Juliet how far he will go to be with her.  She comments that he is risking his life just to be there, because her family will murder him if they find him.  He doesn’t care.  All he cares about is being with her.  Even if she were adrift on the ocean, he would risk anything to find her.  That is how much he loves her.

Juliet is not impressed.  She wants him to convince her that he loves her, not with pretty words but with simple proclamations.  She basically tells him, “If you love me, say so.”

O gentle Romeo,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully:
Or if thou think'st I am too quickly won,
I'll frown and be perverse an say thee nay,
So thou wilt woo; but else, not for the world. (Act 2, Scene 2)

Romeo and Juliet are at a crossroads.  She has decided that his name is not a part of him, and therefore she can love him even if he is a Montague.  He has decided that he will give up his name if he needs to.  He will do anything to be with her.

Juliet agrees to marry Romeo, but will not make love to him until they get married.  The two have to marry in secret, because their families would not take kindly to their relationship. Of course, the secret marriage causes no end to problems, and they both would have been better off going separate ways.

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Romeo and Juliet

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