Romeo and Juliet: Act 4 Scenes 3-5

Act 4, Scene 3

Juliet asks her mother and the nurse to leave her alone for the night. Alone, she looks at the vial that the friar gave her and thinks of all the things that could happen, should she take the potion.

During her soliloquy, she thinks that maybe the friar has tricked her and wants to kill her in order to hide his role in the marriage. She thinks about what will happen if the vial doesn’t work and she is forced to marry Paris.

She thinks that if Romeo is late or doesn’t come, she will be trapped in the tomb and be driven mad by the sight of the dead bodies of her relatives. She is scared that she will lose her mind and begin to play with the bones of her ancestors and that she might smash her head with their bones and kill herself.

She has a vision, where she sees Tybalt’s ghost searching for Romeo and she begs the ghost to stop. She finally toasts Romeo and and drinks the potion.

Questions:

  1. Why does Juliet ask to be left alone for the night?
  2. List some of the fears that Juliet has about the vial that the friar gave her.
  3. Imagine you are Juliet, write a letter to Romeo explaining what you are about to do and your hopes for the future.

Act 4, Scene 4

Capulet is getting everyone ready for the wedding and telling the cooks and the servants to hurry up. He hears Paris coming and tells Lady Capulet and the nurse to go get Juliet up and get her dressed.

Act 4 Scene 5

The nurse comes into Juliet’s room telling her to get up and get ready for the wedding.  When she discovers that Juliet is fully dressed, she realises that she is dead and she begins to cry out.

Lady Capulet, hearing the commotion comes into the room and realises that her daughter is dead and says, “My child, my only life.”  This is in contrast to her attitude towards Juliet in the previous scene when she disobeyed their orders to marry Paris. When Capulet discovers that Juliet is dead, he uses a simile to describe her passing. Death lies on her like an untimely frost, upon the sweetest flower of all the field. Capulet then personifies death when he says, “Death, that hath ta’en her hence to make me wail, Ties up my tongue and will not let me speak.Friar Laurence arrives to begin the wedding ceremony, but the audience know that he’s there to make sure they send Juliet to the family crypt. (Dramatic Irony)

Capulet continues to personify death when he says, “Death is my son-in-law. Death is my heir, My daughter he hath wedded.

Paris and Lady Capulet continue with the personification of death and describe death as cruel and cunning. Friar Laurence tells the Capulets that they conceived Juliet with the help of heaven and now she is back in heaven. “Heaven and yourself Had part in this fair maid. Now heaven hath all.” He chastises the Capulets for not appreciating that she now has eternal life.

The Friar tells them that the best they hoped for their daughter was to marry a wealthy gentleman and rise up the social ladder, now she has climbed to heaven and eternal life.He then tells them to hide their tears and to get her ready to go to the church as is the custom of the Capulets.

Capulet says that the wedding feast will now turn into a funeral and that everything will be the opposite of its intention. “Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse, And all things change them to the contrary.”

The Friar tells them to hurry up as they might offend heaven by going against its will.

Questions:

  1. How do Capulet and Lady Capulet react to the death of Juliet? Give examples.
  2. Do you see any hypocrisy in how Capulet and Lady Capulet are behaving when they hear about Juliet?
  3. Why is Friar Laurence so eager to get Juliet to the crypt?
  4. Why does the Friar chastise the Capulets for mourning too much?
  5. The first part of the plan is complete, do you think that the plan will be successful? Why/Why not?
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