What are some examples of Aside in Romeo and Juliet?  

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tinandan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An Aside is when a character in a play speaks to the audience though there are other characters on stage.  The other characters do not hear the aside.  It reveals the character's private thoughts.  The asides in Romeo and Juliet are often particularly tense and emotional.

Here are some examples.

  • In Act 1, Scene 5, Juliet has just fallen in love with Romeo at her father's party.  As he and the others are leaving, she tries to find out who he is by asking her nurse.  When the nurse tells her that he is "a Montague,/The only son of your great enemy," Juliet comments to herself,  "My only love sprung from my only hate./Too early seen unknown, and known too late./Prodigious birth of love it is to me/That I must love a loathed enemy."  Unlike most asides, this one is overheard by the alert Nurse, who asks, "What's this? What's this?"  Juliet replies, "A rhyme I learned even now of one I danced withal."  It is poignant that Juliet has to lie to cover up her aside.  It also shows how little privacy she gets in her home. 
  • All of Romeo's lines in the beginning of Act 2 Scene 2 are asides, until we reach line 48, when he starts intentionally speaking loudly enough for Juliet to hear him.  So the speech that begins, "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?" is all one long aside.  Even when Romeo says, "O speak again, bright angel," he is actually talking to himself, expressing his own hopes, not speaking for Juliet to hear.  Asides are usually short comments, and this speech is an exception.  
  • In the same scene, after the two have spoken and Juliet goes back inside, Romeo has another aside: "O blessed, blessed night.  I am afeared/Being in night, all this is but a dream,/Too flattering sweet to be substantial." (line 138 - 140)
  • In Act 3, Scene 1, Mercutio has just been killed by Tybalt.  When Benvolio brings Romeo the news, Romeo comments, "This black day's fate on more days doth depend:/This but begins the woe others must end."  This could be played as a comment to Benvolio or as an aside.
  • In Act 3 Scene 2, Juliet is waiting impatiently for news and the Nurse bursts in saying incoherently, "He's dead, he's dead!"  Juliet, thinking that she is saying Romeo is dead, remarks, "Can heaven be so envious?"  This is overheard by the Nurse, but it may be an aside, spoken not really to the Nurse but to herself.  She has a similar line a little later: "O break, my heart. ..." (line 57)
  • Juliet has an aside in Act 3, Scene 5, line 66 - 68: "Who is't that calls?  It is my lady mother ..."
  • In Act 4, Scene 5, when Paris comes to the Capulets' house expecting to marry Juliet, only to find her apparently dead, he says, "Have I thought long to see this morning's face,/And doth it give me such a sight as this?" (lines 43 - 44)