Last Updated on January 7, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 819
Act II, Scene 5
Back at the Capulet house, Juliet anxiously awaits the return of the Nurse with news of Romeo. When the Nurse finally arrives, she toys with Juliet, who is obviously desperate to know what Romeo has said. After initially claiming that she is too tired and achy to give an immediate reply, the Nurse finally gives in to Juliet’s cajoling and asks whether Juliet has permission to go to confession today. When Juliet confirms that she does, the Nurse tells her to hurry to Friar Laurence’s cell, where Romeo is waiting to make her his wife. While Juliet is being secretly married, the Nurse plans to go fetch the rope ladder so that Romeo may sneak into Juliet’s room later that night and consummate the marriage.
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Act II, Scene 6
Scene 6 opens in Friar Laurence’s cell, where both Romeo and the Friar are waiting for Juliet. Romeo excitedly tells Friar Laurence that no sorrow can overcome the joy he feels in his love for Juliet. Friar Laurence warns him that sudden and intense loves often end just abruptly as they began, counseling Romeo to “love moderately” to make his relationship last. Just then, Juliet enters. Acknowledging that she is better with words, Romeo asks Juliet to describe the happiness they will share in marriage, and Juliet responds that their love has given her more than words can express. The Friar tells the young lovers to come with him, and all three exit as Romeo and Juliet go to be married.
In scene 5, Juliet eagerly awaits news of Romeo from the Nurse. This scene contains the first of several references that Juliet will make to time throughout the play: “O, she is lame! Love’s heralds should be thoughts, / Which ten times faster glides than the sun’s beams.” Here Juliet means that time seems to pass differently when one is in love, making the Nurse’s relatively brief delay feel like an agonizingly long wait. Love should be quick, says Juliet, which is why Cupid has “wind-swift” wings and why Venus (the goddess of love) has a chariot pulled by “nimble-pinioned doves.” The idea that love makes things move quickly directly applies to the romance that has rapidly blossomed between Romeo and Juliet, who have only known each other for a single day by the time they are married.
Juliet’s speech also speaks to her and Romeo’s youth, reminding the audience that their inexperience contributes greatly to their impulsive and eager behavior. These lines can also be interpreted to mean that Juliet and Romeo’s love has taken them out of time or out of the real world in which time passes normally. In a sense, their hasty courtship and marriage does occur outside of their time in that it defies all of the conventions of their society. Unlike the proper courtship behavior modeled by Paris in act I, Romeo pursues and marries Juliet without her family’s permission, a major breach of convention. During that time period, marriages amongst the upper classes were not made for love but were instead arranged by parents for the mutual benefit of the respective families. Thus, by marrying in secret and for love, Romeo and Juliet have seriously defied the customs that governed their society. Romeo and Juliet’s love match much more closely adheres to modern day notions of marriage, which further indicates that their love has transported them out of their own time.
In scene 6, Romeo speaks of how Juliet’s love makes him feel invincible:
But come what sorrow can,
It cannot countervail the exchange of joy
That one short minute gives me in her sight.
This remark contains yet another example of unlike elements, such as love and death, being juxtaposed. While Romeo uses this contrast merely to prove a point, the audience knows that Romeo’s love actually does turn to tragedy, imbuing this moment of youthful confidence and optimism with poignancy. Friar Laurence once again urges Romeo to be cautious, saying,
These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and power,
Which, as they kiss, consume.
While Friar Laurence’s advice against giving in to overly passionate feelings is meant for the impetuous Romeo, it can also be applied to all those who are involved in the feud. Extended to all of Verona, the Friar’s advice explains how the passionate, masculine pride exhibited by the Montagues and the Capulets can lead to destruction and bloodshed. Despite the wisdom of his advice, the Friar once again fails to follow it himself, urging the young lovers to follow him so that they may be married immediately. Though the Friar optimistically declares, “So smile the heavens upon this holy act / That after-hours with sorrow chide us not,” it will soon become clear to all involved that fate does not favor Romeo and Juliet’s relationship.