What is the significance of the second prologue by the Chorus in Act II of Romeo and Juliet?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is interesting how Act II begins with another Prologue which is actually written in sonnet form. If we look at what this prologue tells us, we can see that it offers us a summary of what has happened, comments upon it, and then gives us a brief idea of what is to come in terms of the plot of the play. Note how the first four lines tell us how Juliet has surplanted Rosaline in his affections:

That fair for which love groaned for and would die,

With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair.

Of course, many critics question the steadfastness of this love, for if Romeo is so quick to love another, what does that say of his ability to love in the first place? However, this prologue makes clear that his feelings are returned by Juliet, as both are "bewitched by the charm of looks." However, the prologue continues to explore their situation and how, in spite of their love, they face massive barriers due to the feud between their families. However, the final couplet of the prologue gives us as an audience an element of hope, as we are assured that, in spite of the difficulties, they will be able to meet again:

But passion lends them power, time means, to meet,

Temp'ring extremities with extreme sweet.

The prologue thus ends with a play on words that predicts they will be able to pursue their love, but that this "extreme sweet," or very sweet delights, will be met with "extremeties," or difficulties. Thus this prologue comments on what has happened, reminds us of the situation, and gives us a hint of what is to come.

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