"A Plague On Both Your Houses"
Context: The time is the day after the masked ball at which Romeo met and fell in love with Juliet. Mercutio and Benvolio, friends of Romeo, have this morning found Romeo, and have teased him about his whereabouts on the night before. Further, Romeo has been sought out by Juliet's nurse and has appointed his meeting place with her. Benvolio is a quiet-tempered and benevolent man. Mercutio is quick tempered and changeable–mercurial. Now they are walking on the street. Benvolio says that the day is hot and they should retire because if they meet the Capulets they "shall not 'scape a brawl." Mercutio, however, will not go away. The Capulets approach. A fight is being provoked. Romeo enters and tries to stop it. But Tybalt, the Capulet who is determined to fight, and Mercutio draw. They fight, and Mercutio is struck down. Three times he curses the houses of Montague and Capulet, in one of Shakespeare's fine condemnations of this feuding. To Romeo's comment that the wound "cannot be much," Mercutio replies:
MERCUTIONo 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but 'tis enough, 'twill serve. Ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague a both your houses! . . .
"A Thousand Times Good Night"
Context: Romeo and Juliet have for some minutes been declaring their love for each other. She is standing in the window; he is in the orchard below. Juliet cannot fully understand why Romeo came to see her. She wonders if he loves her, and if his "bent of love be honorable," and his "purpose marriage." Juliet's nurse, standing inside the room, becomes increasingly alarmed at how long Juliet is talking and at the prospect of their being discovered. She calls for Juliet to come back into the rooms. Juliet is torn between fear for Romeo and her desire to drag out the last bitter-sweet moment of being with him. She speaks first to the nurse and then to Romeo, trying to quiet the former and to be sure that the latter fully understands her love and will send for her tomorrow: "Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite: / And all my fortunes at thy foot I'll lay. / And follow thee my lord throughout the world." Then the following words pass between them:
JULIETTo cease thy strife, and leave me to my grief.To-morrow will I send.ROMEOSo strive my soul–JULIETA thousand times good night. [Exit above.]ROMEOA thousand times the worse, to want thy light.Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books,But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.
"Eyes Look Your Last"
Context: Juliet, who is already secretly married to Romeo, is being forced by her parents to marry Count Paris. Seeking means to avoid this detested fate, Juliet is told by Friar Lawrence that she should consent to the wedding, and he will give her a potion which she can drink the night before the wedding, and it will make her seem lifeless for forty hours. Friar Lawrence plans to inform Romeo of the events, but the message miscarries. Romeo hears of Juliet's death, returns from his banishment, and goes to the Capulet tomb. There he meets and slays Paris, then forces the entry to the tomb. When he sees Juliet, he thinks she looks marvelously lifelike, but he determines to drink the poison he has brought with him. He then speaks his last words to the apparently lifeless Juliet:
ROMEO. . .O hereWill I set up my everlasting rest;And shake the yoke of inauspicious starsFrom this world-wearied flesh. Eyes look your last.Arms, take your last embrace. And lips, o youThe doors of breath, seal with a righteous kissA dateless bargain to engrossing death.. . .
Context: At a masked ball in Verona, Romeo of the Montague family falls in love with Juliet of the rival Capulet family. The next day Romeo and Juliet are secretly married, hoping to end the feud of the Montague and Capulet families, who would never have condoned the marriage if permission had been sought. Just after the marriage Romeo, who is determined to keep peace, refuses to draw his sword on Juliet's insulting...
(The entire section is 3,030 words.)