Romeo and Juliet Act III, Scenes 3–4: Summary and Analysis
by William Shakespeare

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Act III, Scenes 3–4: Summary and Analysis

Act III, Scene 3

Friar Laurence enters his cell and calls out to Romeo, who is hiding inside. Romeo appears and asks what his punishment will be, and Friar Laurence explains that he has been banished for killing Tybalt. Declaring that there is no world for him outside of Verona, Romeo deems his banishment a fate worse than death. The Friar rebukes Romeo for his foolishness and urges him to be grateful that the Prince has decided to spare his life. Refusing to listen, Romeo bemoans the fact that he won’t be able to touch or see his beloved Juliet. Romeo becomes increasingly despondent and falls to the ground, but his theatrics are interrupted by the arrival of the Nurse, whom Romeo immediately peppers with questions about Juliet. When the Nurse describes Juliet’s emotional torment, Romeo assumes that his new wife must hate him and draws his dagger, threatening to stab himself. Frustrated, Friar Laurence orders Romeo to stop behaving in such an irrational and unmanly manner and says that Romeo is being ungrateful for his many blessings. Friar Laurence reminds Romeo that he is lucky—lucky that Juliet is still alive, lucky that the man who wanted to kill him is dead, and lucky that he is only banished. Quickly coming up with a plan, the Friar tells Romeo to go to Juliet’s room as originally planned but to leave for Mantua before daybreak. While Romeo stays in Mantua, they will spread word of his and Juliet’s marriage and petition the Prince to lift Romeo’s banishment. The Nurse gives Juliet’s ring to Romeo, brightening his mood, and he sets off to meet Juliet after bidding the Friar farewell.

Act III, Scene 4

Lord Capulet and his wife enter, accompanied by Paris. Lord Capulet explains that due to recent unfortunate events, he has not had the chance to talk to his daughter regarding Paris’s suit. Lady Capulet promises Paris that she will find out what Juliet is thinking in the morning. Assuring Paris that he has no doubt that Juliet will agree to do as he orders, Lord Capulet tells his wife to inform Juliet that she must marry Paris on Thursday (after deciding that Wednesday is too soon). The wedding will be an intimate affair, Capulet declares, as he does not want to give off the impression that the family does not care about Tybalt’s recent death.

Analysis

Romeo’s reaction to his banishment further highlights the disparity between his and Juliet’s levels of emotional maturity. Though Juliet is devastated by the banishment, she quickly pulls herself together and sends the Nurse to deliver a token of affection to Romeo. Romeo, however, refuses to listen to the Friar’s wise words and dramatically threatens to kill himself when he thinks Juliet may be angry with him. The Friar forcefully rebukes Romeo for this behavior and, in doing so, calls attention to an important element of Romeo’s personality. The Friar declares that Romeo’s wild emotions have made him lose focus on what is important: the love Romeo has vowed to treasure.

Thy dear love sworn but hollow perjury,
Killing that love which thou hast vowed to cherish;
Thy wit, that ornament to shape and love,
Misshapen in the conduct of them...

(The entire section is 820 words.)