Romeo and Juliet Act Two

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Scene I

The Prologue starts off Act Two by letting the audience know that the two young lovers face obstacles to seeing each other again. Their feuding families hate each other and therefore violence is always in the air. Both families would disapprove of the match at the point of a sword, but, despite the obstacles, the Prologue suggests that another meeting is about to happen.

It is night outside the Capulet house. Romeo enters the stage alone. He does not want to leave. Benvolio and Mercutio enter. They are quite drunk. They are calling for Romeo. Romeo climbs the wall surrounding the Capulet orchard and hides. Mercutio and Benvolio still think Romeo is in love with Rosaline. They do not know about Juliet. The two friends make obscene comments about Romeo having sex with Rosaline. At the end Mercutio decides to retire for the night, no doubt not wanting to pass out on the cold ground. Mercutio and Benvolio leave the stage.

Scene II

Romeo has jumped down from the wall and hidden himself in the garden of the Capulet house to get away from his drunken friends. Juliet come onto the balcony overlooking the garden. He compares her beauty to the heavenly bodies that are in the night sky above him. Romeo sees Juliet on the balcony

Juliet looks over the dark garden and then up at the moon and the stars and can think of nothing but the young man she met at the ball. Juliet on her balcony

When Juliet speaks, Romeo is too shy to answer her. He hides in the dark. When Juliet says 'wherefore art thou Romeo?', she does not wonder where he is. Wherefore means why. Therefore, she is saying, why are you Romeo? Why are you Romeo Montague? It is only his name that is an enemy to her. But he himself is not. She says

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Romeo then steps out of the shadows and announces his love for her. Juliet feels embarrassed that Romeo heard everything she was saying about him. But since Romeo heard her, she won't retract what she said. She mentions the games that young women play when courting, but she won't do that. She won't play those games. She expresses her love for him and she asks him to prove his love by marrying her. She does not want to be a one-night stand. He readily agrees to marry her. He wants to consumate their relationship immediately, but she urges caution. Juliet doesn't want things to get out of hand the first night they meet. She realizes that they should resist temptation, in case their love flames out too quickly.

Juliet will send someone to Romeo the next day to make marriage arrangements. They find it hard to let each other go, but the presence of the Nurse in the next room, calling for Juliet, threatens to expose their secret rendezvous, so they reluctantly decide to part company. Romeo says to Juliet, that she should send her messenger to him at nine a.m. in the morning to make wedding arrangements. Juliet will try to get some sleep while Romeo is off to tell his 'ghostly confessor'; Friar Laurence, about his new love.

Scene III

The next scene opens with Friar Laurence gathering herbs for his potions in the early morning hours. We know it is early morning because of the Friar's opening words.

The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,
Chequering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,
And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels
From forth day's path and Titan's fiery wheels:
Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry,
I must up-fill this osier cage of ours
With baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers.

Friar Laurence is telling us that the sun is not yet up. It is very early morning and the dew is still on the ground. He is collecting poisonous weeds 'baleful weeds' and medicinal flowers; 'precious-juiced flowers'. Friar Laurence then goes on to explain that plants have good and bad properties when misapplied, and how humans do too. Even the evilest of men can have their good points and a good man can have his bad points.

Romeo tells Friar Laurence about his new-found love for Juliet. Friar Laurence thinks this is rather sudden and typically a characteristic of young men who fall in and out of love quickly. Romeo insists that Friar Laurence marry he and Juliet that very day. When Friar Laurence recovers from these sudden wedding plans, he agrees to go along with the marriage because it might heal the rift between the two families, between the Capulets and the Montagues.

Scene IV

The scene is a street. An easy way to denote a street is to have people walking by in different directions going about their business, stopping to chat. There can be beggars and peddlars. Mercutio and Benvolio enter.

Mercutio and Benvolio are wondering where Romeo is as he didn't go home the previous night. They assume he has been chasing Rosaline. Benvolio then tells Mercutio that Tybalt of the house of Capulets has sent a letter to Romeo's house. This is interpreted as a challenge to a duel. Mercutio then mocks Tybalt's fighting skills, not because he isn't good, but because of his emphasis on style rather than substance. A show-off.

O, he is the courageous captain of compliments. He fights as you sing prick-song, keeps time, distance, and proportion; rests me his minim rest, one, two, and the third in your bosom: the very butcher of a silk button, a duellist, a duellist; a gentleman of the very first house, of the first and second cause: ah, the immortal passado! the punto reverso! The hai!

Interestingly, Mercutio and Benvolio start the scene in prose (not poetry-not iambic pentameter). Normally in Shakespeare's plays, noblemen and women spoke in iambic pentameter, which is a line of ten syllables with five stressed beats, a soft beat followed by a hard beat. However in Romeo and Juliet, the form often shifts between prose to poetry and back again.

Romeo shows up with his page; Balthasar, and the lads are happy to see their play mate. Mercutio and Romeo then start immediately on sexual innuendoes. Romeo and Juliet is often taught in schools but I can't imagine that the many sexual references are ever explained to the kids. I am not sure that most teachers would get the references either.

The nurse arrives on the scene with her servant Peter. She is looking for Romeo. Mercutio cannot resist sexually harassing the older woman. She is flattered at first by the attention, but Mercutio eventually makes her angry.

Mercutio and Benvolio then leave Romeo and the Nurse to chat. Romeo tells the Nurse of his plans for marrying Juliet. He tells the old woman that Balthasar will bring her a rope ladder that Romeo will use to climb up to Juliet's bedroom that evening. In the piece about the rope ladder, Romeo reverts to iambic pentameter, while the rest of the scene is in prose. The nurse warns him about another young nobleman; Paris, who also has eyes for Juliet.

:--O, there is a nobleman in town, one Paris, that would fain lay knife aboard; but she, good soul, had as lief see a toad, a very toad, as see him.

The nurse probably can't read because she asks Romeo;

Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter?

Ay, nurse; what of that? both with an R.

(Romeo would likely growl the r sound)

Ah. mocker! that's the dog's name; R is for the--No; I know it begins with some other letter:--

Romeo exits to to get the rope ladder and arrange the wedding. The nurse goes to tell Juliet the good news; Romeo's plans for their wedding

Scene V

This scene opens with Juliet's monologue as she is waiting impatiently for the Nurse to return with news of Romeo's intentions. She had sent the nurse on her mission at 9 am and it is now nearly noon. This is a comic scene. To see the monologue, an analysis of it and a video please go to The clock struck nine monologue and video. Juliet ends up mocking the Nurse about how old she is, and therefore the older woman's tardiness in getting back to her. It is usually played that the Nurse sees Juliet mocking her so she plays into it, acting as if she is very old and feeble and out of breath. The Nurse teasingly prolongs Juliet's agony. Juliet then gets angry with the nurse displaying signs of willfulness, a character trait that leads later to rebellion against her family and her former life.

In this scene, the Nurse often flips from poetry to prose and back again.. When the nurse gets Juliet worked up into an emotionally frustrated state, she finally tells the girl that, yes, Romeo will marry her at Friar Laurence's cell. . Furthermoe they will be able to consumate their marriage that night. The nurse goes off to get the rope ladder. Juliet rushes off to get married

Shakespeare uses a lot of comedy in the first half of the play. There is none in the second half. The use of comedy in a tragedy makes the experience for the audience more of an emotional roller-coaster ride.

Scene VI

This scene takes place in Friar Laurence's cell. Romeo is waiting for Juliet with the Friar. They are about to be married in secret. Before Juliet arrives Romeo tells Friar Laurence that he doesn't care about the consequences of marrying Juliet as long as he can have at least one minute to call her his own. Friar Laurence responds with;

These violent delights have violent ends

He cautions Romeo to slow down. Juliet arrives and they are immersed in each other, barely able to keep their hands off of each other. Friar Laurence decides the best course of action is to get them married as quickly as possible.



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