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Juliet about Romeo


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JULIET: Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, / Which mannerly devotion shows in this; / For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch, / And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.
[Act 1, scene 5] In response to Romeo's opening lines to her, Shakespeare has Juliet teasingly puns on the religious imagery of "palmer" to create the idea that touching hands, "palm to palm," is like kissing (so Romeo, presumably, should be content with touching her hands instead of mhre lips as it's likely they are "palm to palm" if dancing). This retort from Juliet also plays on the "pilgrims" imagery of Romeo's opening lines to Juliet, as pilgrims were also called "palmers" because they often carried palm leaves on their journeys. Though seemingly distant and aloof, Shakespeare brings the future couple closer together through shared language and structure, as Juliet is made to match Romeo's structure, too, adding the next four lines to their sonnet.
JULIET: You kiss by the book.
[Act 1, scene 5] At the conclusion of their sonnet, Shakespeare seals the couple's speech with their first kiss. We can enjoy the romance of the happy couple here, but must always remember - through dramatic irony - that this kiss seals their fates: death. The line itself is polysemous: being 'you're such a good kisser you must have studied it' but also - for us only - 'you're following the tragic plot as expected'.
JULIET: Go ask his name: if he be married. / My grave is like to be my wedding bed.
[Act 1, scene 5] Shakespeare here creates both a literal and more potent metaphorical meaning. Literally, Shakespeare has Juliet say that, if Romeo is married, she will die unmarried, because she will never marry another. Knowing the plot from the Prologue, though, we in the audience know that she is also unkowningly foreshadowing her fate, in which her grave does become her wedding bed. This is likely an aside heard only by the audience as the nurse goes off to find out his name.
JULIET: My only love sprung from my only hate! / Too early seen unknown, and known too late! / Prodigious birth of love it is to me, / That I must love a loathed enemy.
[Act 1, scene 5] Today, a 'prodigy' usually refers to a talented youngster, but the word had different connotations in Shakespeare's time: a "prodigy" was someone or something abnormal or a monstrosity. It also means an 'omen' or 'unlucky sign'. Shakespeare has Juliet, here, recognise how unlucky it is that Romeo is a Montague: the one family she won't be allowed to marry into. However, as ever, for us we know that her 'unlucky' match will have far more tragic consequences.
JULIET: O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? / Deny thy father and refuse thy name; / Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, / And I'll no longer be a Capulet.
[Act 2, scene 2] Having just been treated to Romeo's outpouring of feeling for Juliet, audiences now hear the same from Juliet. Unlike Romeo, though, Shakespeare has Juliet's concerns be more practical - particularly the difficulty of their names. "Wherefore" means 'why' - as in 'Why must you be who you are, of all people?'; Juliet's soliloquy hints at the marriage she propose arrange later this scene, where she is willing to exchange her name and "no longer be a Capulet".
JULIET: If they do see thee, they will murder thee.
[Act 2, scene 2] Shakespeare contrasts Romeo's long, imagery-laden speeches with Juliet's frank single line, charatcerising her as level-headed and practical, even though she is the younger of the pair.
JULIET: O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, / That monthly changes in her circled orb, / Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.
[Act 2, scene 2] Though in a far less aggressive way than his Mercutio, Shakeseare uses Juliet here to again criticise the mock-swearing and overly-poetic promises of lovers. He does the same in his Sonnet 130, claiming there's many women "belied" though "false compare" to exactly the kind of heavenly forces Romeo himself uses. Juliet is characterised by Shakespeare here as savvy and practical: such language is flowery and can hide the truth. Instead, she is a director with bold imperative verbs to "swear not" and later to "not swear at all". Juliet is the antedote to Romeo's false, overly-stylised brand of love.
JULIET: 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 be / Ere one can say 'It lightens.'
[Act 2, scene 2] As well as being used to criticise false declarations of love, Shakespeare also uses Juliet here - like the Friar later - to warn audience members of the dangers of impulsivity and haste. Shakespeare has Juliet initially understand, here, that his relationship is "too rash, too unadvised, too sudden", especially when she would have typically undertaken a longer term of engagement whilst her father arranged the "contract" with her future husband. Additionally, using a simile ("like the lightning") here, Shakespeare creates a sense of both intensity and destructive potential. However, as with most examples of the tragic genre, Juliet is also tragically myopic (blind) to the true potential dangers of her later choices.
JULIET: My bounty is as boundless as the sea, / My love as deep; the more I give to thee
[Act 2, scene 2] In comparison to her earlier, cooler consideration of her relationship with Romeo, here we see an entirely committed figure who seems to have caught a little of Romeo's flare for the hyperbolic. Where Shakespeare's source material made this coupling about sexual gratification, Shakespeare once again, here, makes it clear that this is "boundless" love, not just lust.
JULIET: If that thy bent of love be honourable, / Thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow
[Act 2, scene 2] Boldly for a woman of the era of Juliet's status, whose options were typically limited to the marriage arranged for her, Shakespeare instead has Juliet propose marriage. This serves as another method to prove to audiences that the couple's relationship is mutual: Juliet gives herself to Romeo rather than being taken as a possession. More imperatives from Juliet here, commanding Romeo to "send word tomorrow" continues Shakespeare's characterisation of her as strong-willed and confident.
JULIET: Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow'd night, / Give me my Romeo
[Act 3, scene 2] The dramatic irony of this entire speech is painful to endure. After the frentic slaghter of Act 3, scene 1, Shakespeare gives us Juliet: innocent, alone In her room, and naively unaware of the murders of Mercutio, Tybalt (her cousin), and Romeo's banishment. The more happiness, excitement and impatient imperatives to demand Romeo Shakespeare gives her, the more pity we feel watching a young girl who has risked everything for loving, normal life - and is about to have that life ripped from her.
JULIET: I have bought the mansion of a love, / But not possess'd it, and, though I am sold, / Not yet enjoy'd
[Act 3, scene 2] Shakespeare characterises Juliet as impatient and excited, if nervous, to have her first night with Romeo. As an audience, though, we know it will be their only night. By Act 5, scene 3, we realise that the next time they lie together it will be in death. Like in the part scene, it seems her "grave is like to be [her] wedding bed".
JULIET: O, break, my heart! poor bankrupt, break at once! / To prison, eyes, ne'er look on liberty! / Vile earth, to earth resign; end motion here
[Act 3, scene 2] Mistakenly thinking Romeo deadm, Juliet is made by Shakespeare here to wish for swift death. Her previous imperatives to have night fall and Romeo arrive are replaced by a commend that her heart "break" and all motion to "end". We'll see this happen in Act 5 - first with Romeo and then with Juliet - so there's more foreshadowing here and an audience cannot help but be reminded of the promise in the prologue that the couple will "take their life".
JULIET: O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face! / Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
[Act 3, scene 2] Shakespeare has Juliet use a string of oxymoronic imagery in this speech to emphasise her crisis and conflict and create the idea that she cannot resolve her love for Romeo with the horrific act he has committed. Shakespeare uses a string of rhetorical questions here too in order to emphasise her conflict as he has Juliet ask herself how she could have been deceived into thinking Romeo a "flower" when really he was a "serpent". Notice, though, that though the first oxymoron is a statement, she begins to question herself by the second sentence, eventually resolving to choose Romeo over Tybalt. Shakespeare uses this speech to reiterate our own violent potentials, as a "dragon" can "keep" even a "fair [...] cave" like Romeo in the right/wrong circumstances.
JULIET: But, wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin? / That villain cousin would have kill'd my husband
[Act 3, scene 2] The "wherefore art thou Romeo" of Act 2, scene 2 has become "wherefore, villain" here, demonstrating the shift in Juliet's thinking. Even here, though, the immediate repetition of the same adjective "villain" to describe her "villain cousin" and the possessive pronoun in "my husband" create the idea that it is the violent act, not Romeo, that Juliet most detests.
JULIET: Methinks I see thee, now thou art below, / As one dead in the bottom of a tomb
[Act 3, scene 5] Shakespeare allows dramatic irony to infect Juliet's simile, who considers Romeo's paleness to be death-like. This will be true the next time the characters share the stage together: Romeo will have committed suicide.
JULIET: God join'd my heart and Romeo's, thou our hands
[Act 4, scene 1] Shakespeare neatly summarises the joint roles of Fate and the Friar in Romeo and Juliet's union when Juliet speaks with the Friar after the news she must marry Paris.
JULIET: Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee.
[Act 4, scene 3] Even after the long, hyperbolic list of potentially fatal risks that drinking the potion entails (poisoning, suffocation, and madness), Shakespeare still has Juliet drink. Her phrase "I drink to thee" echoes the traditional toast given between bride and groom at a wedding reception: a reception the couple never had due to the secrecy of their marriage and rapidly progressing tragedy.
JULIET: Thy lips are warm.
[Act 5, scene 3] Possibly the most heart-breaking line of the play. Juliet kisses her dead husband and feels the last dying warmth of his body, and so realises how close she was to saving him from suicide. This anagnorisis - a genre typical moment of 'terrible clarity' - is utterly heartbreaking. Likely acted with pain and bewilderment as a young girl realises that all could have been well but for a few minutes.
JULIET: O happy dagger! / This is thy sheath / there rust, and let me die.
[Act 5, scene 3] The adjective "happy" to qualify the noun "dagger" makes it clear how clearly Juliet wishes to die rather than live without Romeo, mirroring Romeo's own desire for annihilation. She treats herselfs as the "sheath" (storage case) for the dagger, creating the sense that it's place in her in natural and inevitable (as, indeed, the Prologue suggests it would be).