Romeo and Juliet: Act 2, Scenes 2-3

Act 2, Scene 2

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun.” (Metaphor)

Romeo, seeing Juliet on the balcony in the distance tells the audience how beautiful Juliet is through clever imagery and metaphorical language. He says that if the two brightest stars in the sky had to go away they could ask for Juliet’s eyes to shine in their absence.

He sees that Juliet is leaning on her cheek and he tells us that he wishes that he were a glove so that he could touch that cheek. “O, that I were a glove upon that hand, That I might touch that cheek.”

Juliet, thinking that she is alone, speaks to the audience (soliloquy) and calls out, “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; Or if thou wilt not…i’ll no longer be a Capulet.” Romeo doesn’t know whether to speak or not.

Juliet continues by asking what is a name anyway, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  She tells him that he can have her if he refuses his name. Yet she is unaware that he can hear her. Shouting from below the balcony, he tells her, “Henceforth I never will be Romeo.”

Juliet tells Romeo that if he is found in the Capulet Orchard, he will be killed. He doesn’t care and responds, “Look thou but sweet, And I am proof against their enmity.” Juliet asks Romeo if he loves her but is worried that she is “too quickly won.” 

Romeo swears by the moon that he loves Juliet but she says that the moon is too inconstant. She then worries that everything is happening too fast, “it is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden.” In a series of metaphors explaining his devotion to Juliet, the couple are interrupted by the nurse but when she reappears she tells Romeo that if his thoughts are of marriage that he needs to send word tomorrow about the arrangements for the marriage. Juliet is to send a messenger to Romeo in the morning where the marriage will be arranged. Romeo goes in search of priest who will marry them.

Questions:

  1. Pick two metaphors that Romeo uses to describe Juliet and explain what each of them mean.
  2. What does Juliet tell us about the importance of names in this scene? What message do you take form this?
  3. Why is Juliet worried that she is ‘too quickly won?’
  4. How does Juliet show she is more cautious than Romeo in this scene?
  5. Imagine you are Romeo, write a diary entry when you get home about today’s events(Rosaline to Juliet, worried about the future? Marriage? The premonition)

Act 2 Scene 3

In the early morning, Friar Lawrence enters, holding a basket. He fills the basket with various weeds, herbs, and flowers. He comments on the fact that the herbs, like people have both good and evil inside of them and it is what we choose to use that is important. Herbs can be used to cure or kill, just like people can use their lives to do good or evil.

Romeo enters and Friar Lawrence figures out that Romeo has not slept the night before. The friar fears that Romeo may have slept in sin with Rosaline.

Romeo assures him that did not happen, and describes his new love for Juliet, his intent to marry her, and his desire that the friar consent to marry them that very day.

Friar Lawrence is shocked at this sudden shift from Rosaline to Juliet. He comments on the fickleness of young love, Romeo’s in particular. Romeo defends himself, noting that Juliet returns his love while Rosaline did not. In response, the friar comments that Rosaline could see that Romeo’s love for her “did read by rote, that could not spell.” Remaining sceptical at Romeo’s sudden change of heart, Friar Lawrence nonetheless agrees to marry the couple. He agrees to marry them in the hope that it might break the ancient grudge that exists between the two families.

Questions:

  1. What message is Shakespeare highlighting through Friar Laurence’s speech on the good and evil of herbs? Do you agree with this?
  2. Can you find an example of personification in this scene? Explain the line and the effect the personification has.
  3. Why do you think the friar agrees to the marriage? Explain your answer with a quote.
  4. What does the friar mean when he says, “wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.”

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