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Romeo and Juliet: Balcony Scene Glossary

Her vestal livery is but sick and green (8)

vestal livery ] i.e., the uniform ("livery") worn by virgins ("vestal") in the service of Diana.

sick and green ] The phrase sick and green refers to the anaemic condition known as chlorosis, or green sickness. The goddess Diana (the moon personified) is sickly pale and envious of Juliet's beauty (6). Juliet, too, as a follower of Diana (i.e,. a virgin) is looking quite sickly pale herself.

As Helen King argues in her book The disease of virgins: green sickness, chlorosis and the problems of puberty, "...for an early modern reader, the disease label 'green sickness' - like 'the disease of virgins' - could contain within itself the cure: sexual experience" (35).

Back to the Balcony Scene

King, Helen. The disease of virgins: green sickness, chlorosis and the problems of puberty. London: Routledge, 2004.

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Romeo and Juliet Balcony Scene Glossary. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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