Romeo and Juliet: Act 4, Scenes 1-2

In his cell, Friar Lawrence speaks with Paris about the his marriage to Juliet. Paris says that Juliet’s grief about Tybalt’s death has made her unbalanced, and that Capulet, in his wisdom, has determined they should marry soon so that Juliet can stop crying and put an end to her period of mourning. The friar remarks to himself that he wishes he were unaware of the reason that Paris’s marriage to Juliet should be delayed.

Juliet enters, and Paris speaks to her lovingly, if somewhat arrogantly. Juliet responds indifferently, showing neither affection nor dislike. She remarks that she has not married him yet. The friar says that he must hear Juliet’s confession and ushers Paris away, though not before Paris kisses Juliet once.

After Paris leaves, Juliet asks Friar Lawrence for help, brandishing a knife and saying that she will kill herself rather than marry Paris. The friar proposes a plan: Juliet must agree to marry Paris; then, on the night before the wedding, she must drink a sleeping potion that will make her appear to be dead; she will be laid to rest in the Capulet tomb, and the friar will send word to Romeo in Mantua to help him retrieve her when she wakes up.

She will then return to Mantua with Romeo, and be free to live with him away from their parents’ hatred. Juliet consents to the plan wholeheartedly. Friar Lawrence gives her the sleeping potion.

Questions:

  1. Why is Paris at Friar Laurence’s cell?
  2. Why does Paris think that Juliet should go ahead with the marriage?
  3. Why do you think that Friar Laurence is trying to convince him to delay the marriage?
  4. What does Juliet mean when she says, ‘It may be so, for it is not mine own.—’
  5. How does Juliet think that the situation can be solved?
  6. Describe the plan that Friar Laurence has come up with.
  7. Would you go along with this plan?

Summary Act 4, Scene 2

Juliet returns home, where she finds Capulet and Lady Capulet preparing for the wedding. She surprises her parents by repenting her disobedience and cheerfully agreeing to marry Paris. Capulet is so pleased that he insists on moving the marriage up a day, to Wednesday—tomorrow. Juliet heads to her chambers to prepare for her wedding. Capulet heads off to tell Paris the news.

Questions:

  1. How has Shakespeare added new urgency into the story?
  2. Why is Capulet so happy at the end of the scene?
  3. What does this scene show us about Juliet?
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