In the balcony scene (act 2, scene 2), who is in control of the conversation, Romeo or Juliet? Who has the most power and control in this conversation?

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During Romeo and Juliet's conversation in the balcony scene, Juliet exerts the most power and control. Perched high up in a balcony looking down on Romeo , she physically occupies a position of power. Surprised by Romeo’s appearance, Juliet emphasizes that he is an interloper and flirtatiously threatens him...

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How camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,And the place death, considering who thou art,If any of my kinsmen find thee here.

Portraying herself as forbidden fruit in an “orchard,” she warns Romeo that “If they do see thee, they will murder thee.” She assures him, however, “I would not for the world they saw thee here.” Juliet stresses to Romeo how dangerous it is to see her, but then implies that he has nothing to worry about because she will not alert her kinsmen of his presence.

Juliet also exerts power through manipulative behavior. Embarrassed that Romeo overheard her earlier declaration of longing for him, she says that she could “deny / What I have spoke.” She also admits that if she seems too easily won. She will play hard to get in order to make him want her more; “I’ll frown and be perverse an say thee nay/So thou wilt woo.” Yet despite revealing how she is able to lie, “deny,” and pretend, Juliet insists that she truly loves him and justifies her immodest or “light” manners, saying,

In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond,And therefore thou mayst think my 'havior light:But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more trueThan those that have more cunning to be strange.

Throughout this conversation, love-struck Romeo is enraptured by Juliet. He portrays himself as a passive and vulnerable pursuer with lines like, “My life were better ended by their hate / Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love” and “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.” He spends most of the time asking Juliet questions (e.g. what he should swear on if not by the moon) and being interrupted and cut off by her. Overall, Romeo has fewer lines than Juliet does in this scene. Her multi-line speeches dominate this uneven conversation to the point where he is allowed to speak only one to a few lines at a time.

Juliet also plays with Romeo’s emotions. After declaring she loves him, she abruptly does an about-face and bids him good night; she leaves him “unsatisfied” and wondering how she really feels about him and what will happen next by saying,

although I joy in thee,I have no joy of this contract to-night:It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;Too like the lightning, which doth cease to beEre one can say 'It lightens.' Sweet, good night!

Finally, Juliet controls Romeo physically, pulling him toward her and then pushing him away…stringing him on like a yoyo. When Nurse calls her, Juliet commands Romeo—who is hanging on the side of her balcony— to “Stay but a little, I will come again.” She tells him to “send me word to-morrow” if he wants to marry her. Then she decides that instead of waiting for his answer, she will actively seek it; she declares, “To-morrow will I send” Nurse before insistently and pointedly asking, “At what o'clock to-morrow/Shall I send to thee?” After exiting a second time, Juliet returns and calls him back like a master of a pet:

Hist! Romeo, hist! O, for a falconer's voice,To lure this tassel-gentle back again!

When Romeo returns, Juliet tell him what she forgot why she called him back, but no matter, because

I shall forget, to have thee still stand there,Remembering how I love thy company.

Romeo stays put like a faithful puppy. Suddenly, Juliet dismisses him yet again with

'Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone:And yet no further than a wanton's bird;Who lets it hop a little from her hand,Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,And with a silk thread plucks it back again,So loving-jealous of his liberty.

Like a spoiled child who keeps a bird on a leash, she allows him to roam “a little” before pulling him back again. She is “jealous” of Romeo’s freedom, yet admits she would limit that freedom. The infatuated Romeo actually wishes he were her bird or “prisoner.” Juliet gets the final word in their tete-a-tete, releasing Romeo with, “I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

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