Juliet; Banished monologue

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Act III, Scene ii

JULIET:
Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?
Ah, poor my lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name
When I, thy three-hours wife, have mangled it?
But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?
That villain cousin would have killed my husband.
Back, foolish tears, back to your native spring!
Your tributary drops belong to woe,
Which you, mistaking, offer up to joy.
My husband lives, that Tybalt would have slain;
And Tybalt's dead, that would have slain my husband.
All this is comfort; wherefore weep I then?
Some word there was, worser than Tybalt's death,
That murd'red me. I would forget it fain;
But O, it presses to my memory
Like damned guilty deeds to sinners' minds!
'Tybalt is dead, and Romeo--banished!'
That 'banished,' that one word 'banished,'
Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts. Tybalt's death
Was woe enough, if it had ended there;
Or, if sour woe delights in fellowship
And needly will be ranked with other griefs,
Why followed not, when she said 'Tybalt's dead,'
Thy father, or thy mother, nay, or both,
Which modern lamentation might have moved?
But with a rearward following Tybalt's death,
'Romeo is banished'--to speak that word
Is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet,
All slain, all dead. 'Romeo is banished'--
There is no end, no limit, measure, bound,
In that word's death; no words can that woe sound.



Brief synopsis up to this point.

Romeo and Juliet have been secretly married. Because their families would not approve of the marriage, as both clans are sworn enemies, they keep their relationship a secret. But tragedy strikes when Juliet's cousin; Tybalt and the Prince's cousin Mercutio engage in a brawl in which Mercutio is killed. A grieving Romeo has been a good friend of Mercutio's so he stabs and kills Tybalt. Romeo has been ordered banished from the city of Verona. Juliet's nurse brings her the news. Juliet has been brought from great happiness to abject despair with this news.

How to do the monologue-

On hearing the news, Juliet is angry at Romeo for killing her cousin but her love for him resurfaces and the worst thing for her is Romeo's banishment. This is a very difficult monologue to deliver without slipping into melodrama. Through this tragic event and the relationship with Romeo before this, Juliet has matured far beyond her years. She asks the nurse why should she speak badly of her husband, and if she as a new minted wife would trash him, who could possible repair the damage. The first line is made up of short punchy words that have to be separated by clear pronunciation of the consonants. The next two lines start soft and slow and stop dead in the third line with the phrase 'mangled it' She chastises herself with the phrase 'mangled it;

JULIET Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?
Ah, poor my lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name
When I, thy three-hours wife, have mangled it?

There are a lot of conflicting stresses in these lines; antithesis which present contrasting arguments to show Juliet's conflicted state of mind. She asks why Romeo killed her cousin, calling him a villian, but then that thought is mitigated and she grants Romeo the license to kill her cousin when she notes that her cousin Tybalt would have killed Romeo. It begins to give her comfort, excusing the murder of Tybalt.

JULIET But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?
That villain cousin would have killed my husband.

First Shakespeare is obviously giving Juliet a stage direction when he has her say 'Back, foolish tears'. The actress does not need to cry, she needs to act like she's crying, and by wiping her cheeks and eyes that has the effect for the audience. 'Back to your native spring' is only Juliet's imagining that the tears come from some underground spring. When she says that these tears belong to woe, she means that she has been crying for no reason. These tears were mistakenly offered up to Joy. Joy needs no tears. And here Juliet totally rejects her family by being happy about her cousin's death because her cousin would have killed her husband. "All this is comfort' is suddenly going to be anhilated by an even worse thought in Juliet's heart.

JULIET Back, foolish tears, back to your native spring!
Your tributary drops belong to woe,
Which you, mistaking, offer up to joy.
My husband lives, that Tybalt would have slain;
And Tybalt's dead, that would have slain my husband.
All this is comfort.



'Wherefore weep I then?' is a question with a horrible answer. The lines cannot be played as if Juliet knows what she is going to think or feel next. So, when she says; 'Wherefore weep I then?' she does not at that moment know. The news of the double murder has overwhelmed her and she can't think straight.

JULIET Wherefore weep I then?

An onimous note in Juliet's voice. There is a word that might drive her to madness. This is the beginning of a slow build to despair. It has to start slowly and then build in tempo, picking up speed.

JULIET Some word there was, worser than Tybalt's death,
that murd'red me,

She wishes desperately not to remember the word, to deny this word. When she says 'but O' it is the beginning of a cry of anguish. Another stage direction by Shakespeare occurs in the lines when he has Juliet say; 'It presses to my memory', she should be pressing her fists or hands against the sides of her head, One reason for this, is that it is a physical manifestation of her madness and the power of a word, and everything it entails. Earlier in the balcony scene Juliet tries to discount the importance of Romeo's name as being a road black to their happiness. Here she fully recognizes the awful tragic ramifications of this, as yet unspoken word.

JULIET I would forget it fain;
But O, it presses to my memory
Like damned guilty deeds to sinners' minds!

She accepts that Tybalt is dead but the word that follows crushes her. Romeo is banished. The ed at the end of banished is important to say otherwise the poetry crumbles. Much like in a song where the composer can turn a one syllable word into a two syllable word for the poetry and the music. My own take on the word banished is that it is a hard word for Juliet to say. It pierces her to the heart, so that is important to remember. Also, because it is repeated several times it cannot be said all in the same way. Too predictable and too boring. I actually think the first time she says it should be as a whisper as if she can barely get the word out. That gives the actor room to grow emotionally.

JULIET Tybalt is dead, and Romeo--banished!


Juliet says that this one word banished is more powerful than, the death of 10,000 Tybalts. Her cousin's death is a drop in the ocean compared to Romeo's Banishment.

JULIET That 'banished,' that one word 'banished,'
Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts.

Juliet here says that had her whole family been wiped out, then there would have been a period of grieving that she could have coped with, could have lived with.

JULIET Tybalt's death
Was woe enough, if it had ended there;
Or, if sour woe delights in fellowship
And needly will be ranked with other griefs,
Why followed not, when she said 'Tybalt's dead,'
Thy father, or thy mother, nay, or both,
Which modern lamentation might have moved?

And again Juliet with this one word banished is about to build into a descent into absolute despair. It might be nice to have this bit said quietly and calmly because the emotional stakes are going to go through the roof here, and the actor needs to grab this moment to breathe.

JULIET But with a rearward following Tybalt's death,
'Romeo is banished'

The tempo picks up as well as the volume. Interestingly when she names all that have died because of this one word; 'banished' there are thirteen syllables in this line, a chaotic ammount in Shakespeare's normal ten syllables. Then she slows right down with 'all slain, all dead'. Then quietly, barely able to say the word, being so choked full of sorrow she ends the monologue in despair by saying that no words can possibly describe her pain.

JULIET --to speak that word
Is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet,
All slain, all dead. 'Romeo is banished'--
There is no end, no limit, measure, bound,
In that word's death; no words can that woe sound.

This is a highly charged and emotional monologue which needs variety and clarity. It needs changes in tempo, volume and emotion. A great monologue to show off superior acting skills.

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