Romeo and Juliet, 3.2.69-137
Juliet’s speech (1-34) begins with a reference to Phoebus (1-4) (designating Helios (god of the sun) and his son Phaëton (who in the myth, failed to control the “fiery-footed steeds” and almost led to the destruction of the earth).
Juliet’s eagerness is paralleled with this wildly and uncontrolable sun-chariot. Follows Juliet’s imagination of the “love-performing night”. The idea that beauty creates its own light is conjured up by Juliet :
“8 Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
Juliet’s eagerness to see night falling is emphasized by the next lines, with a note of eroticism:
“ 10 Come, civil night, (…)
Juliet’s desire is again accentuated by lines 14-17. A series of contrast (lines 18-25) is then found, comparing Romeo’s whiteness to the deep black of the night.
Juliet’s love for Romeo is compared with a mansion that she would have bought but not possessed (l. 26-27), Romeo doesn’t really “belong” to her (as marriage would normally allow).
Juliet’s frame of mind is eventually compared, in the last lines of her speech, to the one of an impatient child :
The nurse then enters, bringing the rope ladder (to enable Romeo to climb).
Then begins the confusing discourse of the nurse, that doesn’t really fulfil Juliet’s expectations, delivering exclamations rather than explanations. Juliet is just waiting for a simple answer that would relieve or “kill” her but the nurse has been too shocked by what she saw to give her this simple answer. This leads Juliet to believe Romeo killed himself.
However, when the two (Friar and Nurse) learn about the forbidden love, their views on the marriage contrast. While the Friar is supportive of the lovers, the Nurse has more of a biased opinion. Because of their difference in opinion, the end result is the Nurse ultimately betraying Juliet by siding with her parents, while the Friar continued to believe that peace through their marriage could be ...
2) Act 3 scene 2 parallels with an other scene, the scene 4 from act 2. Indeed, the two scenes share the same narrative structure : Juliet is waiting (impatiently) for Romeo to come, and the nurse is again unable (or in act 2 scene 4, unwilling) to tell Juliet the news she’s bringing right away. There is one major difference though, as in the act 2 scene 4, joyful news (Romeo’s marriage with Juliet) are to be delivered (the nurse is actually teasing Juliet by finding all kind of ways not to deliver the news) whereas in act 3 scene 2, terrible news (Tybalt’s death, Romeo’s exile) are delivered (here, the nurse is too devastated and lacks breath to tell Juliet the horrible news).
The two scenes are thus very similar in the way events and the plot develops, but the main reason that led to the possibility of the realization of the event is drastically different from one scene to the other.
3) In the passage, Juliet is doing most of the conversation ( 11 lines for the nurse, 57 for Juliet).
From this proportion we can deduce that the nurse is not going to build a great line of arguments, but she’ll rather comment on what Juliet has to say. The nurse’s role in the passage is to try and turn Juliet thoroughly against Romeo, to reason with her in order to make her understand what’s the most serious problem. She’s holding a normative discourse, she’s kind of the voice of reason into this sea of unhappiness that Juliet discharges from her eyes.
4) In Juliet’s speech, II. 73-85, a recurrent figure of speech can be identified, the oxymoron :
But also :
To the immediate situation, these oxymorons show that Juliet’s feelings for Romeo are ambivalent and that everything is confused in her head and can’t really keep a sense of proportion. She’s torn between hate and love at the same time for Romeo. To the play as a whole, this shows how important and central the two themes of love and hatred are, and how close the two actually are.
5) Juliet, between the lines 97 and 127, uses a certain logic to construct her speech. Indeed, Juliet, all through her speech, keeps questionning her previous arguments and ideas. This speech is close to a long syllogism, and could be summarized the following way:
William Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, is one of the greatest love stories of all time. The play was written around 1595, but the story has proven to be timeless. The play is a story of forbidden love that is resolved in two tragic deaths. Romeo and Juliet come from feuding families, but they defy the feud and fall in love. Many events take place during the five short days that they share ...
Serpent, dragon, fiend, tyrant, raven, lamb, saint, nature, hell, Corinthians, the Genesis, Satan, Psalm.
Most of these words, names and references to books can be found in the bible, they have a great symbolic meaning. These words function in pairs, obviously (lamb/wolf, fiend/angel, dove/raven, etc).
For exemple, the dove is a symbol of purity, grace, and unconditionnal love, and the raven is associated with death, war, and occult knowledge. This symbol pattern is pretty much the same for all the “couples”. Each part of the pair represent either love, or hatred, and this is representative of the atmosphere of the scene.
7) The prop which is visible on stage is the ladder rope that the nurse brings (II,31-32: “_Enters the nurse with cords_”).
These cords were to serve as a rope ladder for Romeo, for him to climb and get into Juliet’s room for the night.
We will first of all paraphrase these four essential lines :
Line 134, Romeo asked the nurse to bring the cords (highway) to let him get to Juliet’s room, and bed. On line 135, Juliet complains about the fact she’s dying (wants to die) without having experienced the joys of womanhood. Then, Juliet is asking for the cords, wanting death to take her, and finally expresses this wish and asks death to take her virginity.
To the play as a whole, these lines are relevant because they show that death is ubiquitous and is always quickly a remedy for a perilous and unfortunate situation.
9) The use of the repetition in the passage is relevant in the way that it helps the reader feel that there is too much of something. In the passage we can, for instance, quote the exemple of several words that are repeated lots of time, such as “banishèd”, “slain” or “woe”, “villain”. These repetitions of words, and ideas convey a feeling of overacting from Juliet’s part. Apart from this, these repetitions let us feel how important and “tragic” this scene is.
10) Line 79 offers variant readings, the one with the choice of Q2 being : “79 A dimme saint, an honorable villain!”.
We shall first scan these two lines :
(The syllables underlined and written in bold print are the stressed syllables)
1 Romeo and Juliet 2 William Shakespeare between 1591 and 15963 England 4 Romeo- Romeo is the most famous Montague there is. At first he loves Rosaline, but later falls in love with Juliet. Romeo is very fickle when it comes to love and falls quickly in and out of it. Juliet- Juliet is a Capulet and the love of Romeo. She is also the love interest of Paris but despises him very much. Juliet much ...
From the disruption of the iambic pattern we can infer that somehow the plot has reached a point where serious matters have catched up with reality and where the nurse can’t keep beating around the bush anymore. Also, this is to insist on the fact that Romeo is banished.
On act 3, scene 1, Tybalt, looking for Romeo, is challenged to a fight by Mercutio, but Romeo appears and is challenged to fight by Tybalt. Romeo refuses, Mercutio steps forward and fights Tybalt. Mercutio and what he represents (comedy) dies. When Tybalt returns, Romeo kills him, leading to Romeo’s exile. The scene in which our passage is extracted from begins wih a long speech of Juliet, relating her expectations, dreams of the night she’s about to spend with her beloved Romeo. Then enters the nurse, breathless, who has seen Tybalt’s body, and who will drive Juliet insane, because she’s unable to say what has happened. The passage begins with the insisting words on Romeo’s condition from the nurse’s part. This quickly leads Juliet to express that this scenario is the worst she could have imagined. The nurse, seeing Juliet is much more devastated by Romeo’s exile than by her cousin’s death, tries to reason with her.
What is worth noticing is that the passage isn’t written in rhymes, the dialogue being between Juliet and her nurse. A great deal of tension can be felt, though. From all this we might wonder in what way is this scene and passage will affect the main themes and streams of ideas of the play. To answer this, we shall in the first place focus on the conflicting emotions at stake in the passage, then move on the mythical side of the extract and eventually draw our attention on the consideration of this passage as a tragedy.
a) Two confused notions
Heavy use of oxymorons, as a means of showing distress (“75 Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!”)
Love and hatred, challenging each other along the passage.
b) Change of heart
A nurse opposed to Romeo: the nurse is obviously trying to turn Juliet against Romeo.
From anger to enless pain : Juliet’s mind evolves, following a logic pattern throughout the passage.
a) An ubiquitous woe
Despite fate’s grasp on Romeo and Juliet being clear from the beginning, their choices in the play cause fate to build momentum and accelerate their lives to their inevitable end. Shakespeare’s original presentation of fate is of an inescapable event, but how the characters get there is less certain and more chance. Whereas Luhrmann’s fate is cruller and more controlling, but both interpretations ...
-Death present through material signs : the cords, a meaningful prop.
b) Eagerness and rapidity of evolution
-Quick movement, the “highway” to the sky and pleasure.
-Juliet’s excitment annihilated : notably with the Phoebus reference, paralleled with the nurse’s breaking of rhythm on lines 69-70.
a) The nurse: the nurse as a reminder of the terrible reality.
-The long way to the delivering of the news.
-A balance with the rhythmic speech of Juliet.
b) A major shift: as sensed in previous scene, comedy leaves room for tragedy.
-The oxymoron, a key of the tragedy.
-A shared structure: along with the 2.4 scene, this scene is about the nurse delivering a message to an impatient Juliet. However, the tone and settings have changed.
c) Juliet, the widowed-bride:
-Womanhood which is forced to remain in dreams.
-Extremely emphasized woes, with the aid of repetitions.
This passage is quite a turning point not only in the plot, but in the whole system of ideas that revolve around the play, showing that tragedy has “killed” comedy, putting the main themes back in the heart of the play, opposing love and hatred, on a death backdrop.