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Romeo and Juliet

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ACT II SCENE II Capulet's orchard. 
[Enter ROMEO]
ROMEOHe jests at scars that never felt a wound.
[JULIET appears above at a window]
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!10
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks yet she says nothing: what of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks:
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven20
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!
ROMEOShe speaks:
O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art
As glorious to this night, being o'er my head

As is a winged messenger of heaven
Unto the white-upturned wondering eyes
Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him30
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds
And sails upon the bosom of the air.
JULIETO Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.
ROMEO[Aside] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?
JULIET'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,40
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
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.
ROMEOI take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized;50
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
JULIETWhat man art thou that thus bescreen'd in night
So stumblest on my counsel?
ROMEOBy a name
I know not how to tell thee who I am:
My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee;
Had I it written, I would tear the word.
JULIETMy ears have not yet drunk a hundred words
Of that tongue's utterance, yet I know the sound:
Art thou not Romeo and a Montague?60
ROMEONeither, fair saint, if either thee dislike.
JULIETHow camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
And the place death, considering who thou art,
If any of my kinsmen find thee here.
ROMEOWith love's light wings did I o'er-perch these walls;
For stony limits cannot hold love out,
And what love can do that dares love attempt;
Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me.
JULIETIf they do see thee, they will murder thee.70
ROMEOAlack, there lies more peril in thine eye
Than twenty of their swords: look thou but sweet,
And I am proof against their enmity.
JULIETI would not for the world they saw thee here.
ROMEOI have night's cloak to hide me from their sight;
And but thou love me, let them find me here:
My life were better ended by their hate,
Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love.
JULIETBy whose direction found'st thou out this place?
ROMEOBy love, who first did prompt me to inquire;80
He lent me counsel and I lent him eyes.
I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as far
As that vast shore wash'd with the farthest sea,
I would adventure for such merchandise.
JULIETThou know'st the mask of night is on my face,
Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek
For that which thou hast heard me speak to-night
Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny
What I have spoke: but farewell compliment!
Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say 'Ay,'90
And I will take thy word: yet if thou swear'st,
Thou mayst prove false; at lovers' perjuries
Then say, Jove laughs. O gentle Romeo,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully:
Or if thou think'st I am too quickly won,
I'll frown and be perverse an say thee nay,
So thou wilt woo; but else, not for the world.
In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond,
And therefore thou mayst think my 'havior light:
But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more true100
Than those that have more cunning to be strange.
I should have been more strange, I must confess,
But that thou overheard'st, ere I was ware,
My true love's passion: therefore pardon me,
And not impute this yielding to light love,
Which the dark night hath so discovered.
ROMEOLady, by yonder blessed moon I swear
That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops--
JULIETO, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,110
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.
ROMEOWhat shall I swear by?
JULIETDo not swear at all;
Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,
Which is the god of my idolatry,
And I'll believe thee.
ROMEOIf my heart's dear love--
JULIETWell, do not swear: although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract to-night:
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say 'It lightens.' Sweet, good night!120
This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath,
May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.
Good night, good night! as sweet repose and rest
Come to thy heart as that within my breast!
ROMEOO, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?
JULIETWhat satisfaction canst thou have to-night?
ROMEOThe exchange of thy love's faithful vow for mine.
JULIETI gave thee mine before thou didst request it:
And yet I would it were to give again.129
ROMEOWouldst thou withdraw it? for what purpose, love?
JULIETBut to be frank, and give it thee again.
And yet I wish but for the thing I have:
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.
[Nurse calls within]
I hear some noise within; dear love, adieu!
Anon, good nurse! Sweet Montague, be true.
Stay but a little, I will come again.
[Exit, above]
ROMEOO blessed, blessed night! I am afeard.
Being in night, all this is but a dream,140
Too flattering-sweet to be substantial.
[Re-enter JULIET, above]
JULIETThree words, dear Romeo, and good night indeed.
If that thy bent of love be honourable,
Thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow,
By one that I'll procure to come to thee,
Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite;
And all my fortunes at thy foot I'll lay
And follow thee my lord throughout the world.
Nurse[Within] Madam!
JULIETI come, anon.-- But if thou mean'st not well,150
I do beseech thee--
Nurse[Within] Madam!
JULIETBy and by, I come:--
To cease thy suit, and leave me to my grief:
To-morrow will I send.
ROMEOSo thrive my soul--
JULIETA thousand times good night!
[Exit, above]
ROMEOA thousand times the worse, to want thy light.
Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from
their books,
But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.
[Re-enter JULIET, above]
JULIETHist! Romeo, hist! O, for a falconer's voice,
To lure this tassel-gentle back again!160
Bondage is hoarse, and may not speak aloud;
Else would I tear the cave where Echo lies,
And make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine,
With repetition of my Romeo's name.
ROMEOIt is my soul that calls upon my name:
How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night,
Like softest music to attending ears!
ROMEOMy dear?
JULIETAt what o'clock to-morrow
Shall I send to thee?
ROMEOAt the hour of nine.
JULIETI will not fail: 'tis twenty years till then.170
I have forgot why I did call thee back.
ROMEOLet me stand here till thou remember it.
JULIETI shall forget, to have thee still stand there,
Remembering how I love thy company.
ROMEOAnd I'll still stay, to have thee still forget,
Forgetting any other home but this.
JULIET'Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone:
And yet no further than a wanton's bird;
Who lets it hop a little from her hand,
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,180
And with a silk thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.
ROMEOI would I were thy bird.
JULIETSweet, so would I:
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! parting is such
sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
[Exit above]
ROMEOSleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast!
Would I were sleep and peace, so sweet to rest!
Hence will I to my ghostly father's cell,
His help to crave, and my dear hap to tell.

Next: Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 3


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 2
From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.



1. He jests ... wound, Mercutio, who never felt the wound of love, may well jest at the scars which Cupid's arrows have left in my heart. That this is not a general, but a particular, remark is, I think, proved by the answering rhyme, as Staunton has noticed. And as neither the folios nor the quartos make any division of scene, such division, originally due to Rowe, seems clearly wrong.

2. soft! he bids himself 'hush,' cautions himself to talk in a lower voice.

4. envious, jealous.

7. Be not her maid, no longer serve her, no longer keep a vow to live unmarried; as Diana's votaries pledged themselves to do.

8. Her vestal ... green, the life of chastity to which she binds her priestess is one of sickly, jaundiced, hue. In sick and green there is probably, as Delius suggests, an allusion to the "green-sickness" of which Shakespeare often speaks, and which in iii. 5. 157, below, Capulet applies as an epithet to Juliet in his anger at her refusal of Paris, "Out, you green-sickness carrion! out, you baggage! You tallow-face," — an ailment of languishing girls characterized by a pale complexion. The reading of the first quarto is pale for sick, and this is preferred by many editors. Collier would change sick into white, seeing in the line an allusion to the white and green livery formerly worn by the Court fools; but it seems unlikely that Shakespeare would use the word fools in this literal sense when referring to Juliet, while, as Grant White points out, if such an allusion were intended, it would be obtained from the reading of the first quarto, pale, without the violent change to white; vestal livery. Vesta was the Roman goddess of the hearth, corresponding with the Greek Hestia, and her priestesses were vowed to a life of chastity and celibacy; cp. Per. iii. 4. 10, "A vestal livery will I take me to, And never more have joy."

12. what of that? but that matters little.

13. discourses, is eloquent in its mere look.

16. some business, some private affairs of their own which would be hindered by their having to perform their nightly duty of lighting up the sky.

17. in their spheres. According to the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, round about the earth, which was the centre of the system, were nine hollow spheres, consisting of the seven planets, the fixed stars or firmament, and the Primum Mobile; the spheres with the stars and planets in them being whirled round the earth in twenty-four hours by the driving power, the Primum Mobile.

21. the airy region, the upper air; region, was originally a division of the sky marked out by the Roman augurs. In later times the atmosphere was divided into three regions, upper, middle, and lower. Cp. also Haml. ii. 2. 509.

24, 5. O, that ... cheek, cp. Tennyson, The Miller's Daughter, 169-186.

28. winged messenger, angel.

29. white-upturned, turned up in adoration so that the pupils are scarcely seen.

30. fall back, stand back in awe, and also in order to get a clearer view.

31. lazy-pacing, slowly drifting. Grant White compares Macb. i. 7. 21-5; lazy-pacing is Pope's conjecture for lasie pacing, of the first quarto; the remaining quartos and the folios give lazie, or lazy, puffing.

34. refuse, disown, disclaim; cp. T. C. iv. 5. 267, "We have had pelting wars, since you refused The Grecians' cause."

37. speak at this, answer her without allowing her to go further, interrupt her at this point.

39. Thou art ... Montague. Staunton explains "That is, as she afterwards expresses it, you would still retain all the perfections which ardorn you, were not called Montague"; and so substantially Grant White, though Dyce calls such an explanation "unintelligible." Others follow Malone in putting the comma after though, as used in the sense of however, with the explanation that Juliet is simply endeavouring to account for Romeo's being amiable and excellent though he is a Montague, to prove which she asserts that he merely bears the name, but has none of the qualities of that house. Various emendations have also been proposed, but Staunton's explanation seems to me quite satisfactory.

42. be some other name, be somebody else in name than Montague. Lettsom objects that Shakespeare could not have written "be some other name"; but after the expression "What's Montague?", where "Montague" is used as though it were a thing, there seems no reason why we should not have "be some other name."

46. owes, owns; as frequently in Elizabethan literature, the final n of the M. E. owen, to pcssess, being dropped. The modern sense of the word 'to be in debt,' 'to be obliged,' comes from the sense of possessing another's property, but the word has no etymological connection with to 'own' = to possess; it being from the A.S. agan, to have, while the latter is from the A.S. agnian, to appropriate, claim as one's own, from agn, contracted form of agen, one's own (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).

47. doff, put off; do off, as don, do on; dup, do up; dout, do out.

48. for thy name, in exchange for your name.

53. So stumblest on my counsel, come so unexpectedly upon my secret thouglits; cp. M. N. D. i. 1. 216, "Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet," i.e. confiding to each other our inmost thoughts.

53, 4. By a name... am, if I could let you know who I am without using a name, I would gladly do so, for it is impossible for me to name myself without distressing you.

55. saint. Delius points out that this word recalls their first meeting when, as a pilgrim, Romeo had thus greeted Juliet.

58. drunk, unconsciously acknowledging the avidity with which she had listened to his words.

61. if either thee dislike, if either be unpleasant to your ears; dislike is really impersonal, as in Oth. ii. 3. 49, "I'll do't; but it mislike's me."

64. And the place death, and to venture here is to risk your life.

66. o'er-perch these walls, fly over these walls and settle here, as a bird settles upon a branch after a flight from some other spot; a perch is literally a rod, bar, then a bough or twig on which a bird settles.

67. stony limits, limits formed of stone, i.e. walls; stony, more commonly used as = of the nature of.

69. are no let to me, are no hindrance to me, cannot bar my way and keep me out.

71. Alack, according to Skeat, either a corruption of 'ah! lord,' or, which seems more probable, from ah! and M. E. lak, loss, failure.

73. proof against, able to endure, hold out against; see note on i. 1. 216.

76. but thou love me ... here, except, unless, you love me, I am quite willing that they should find me here and kill me; without your love, life to me is not worth living.

78. Than death ... love, than that my death should be delayed if I am to be without your love; prorogued, the Lat. prorogare was to propose a further extension of office, lience to defer, though literally meaning only to ask publicly, from pro-, publicly, and rogare, to ask.

81. counsel, advice.

83. vast shore. "Lat. vastus, empty, waste" (Walker).

84. I would adventure for, I would make my voyage in quest of, however great the danger.

88. Fain ... form, gladly would I, if it were possible, stand on ceremony with you, treat you with distant formality; Fain, properly an adjective.

89. but farewell compliment, "but away with formality and punctilio" (Staunton); I now cast such things to the winds.

93. laughs, good-humouredly disdains to punish them. Douce compares Marlowe's translation of Ovid's Art of Love, i. 633, "For Jove himself sits in the azure skies, And laughs below at lover's perjuries," from which he thinks that Shakespeare borrowed.

94. pronounce it faithfully, assure me of your love without adding an oath to confirm your words.

97. So, provided that.

98. fond, foolishly loving; fond, originally fonned, the past participle of the verb fonnen, to act foolishly, from the substantive fon, a fool.

99. light, full of levity, wanton.

101. more cunning ... strange, more skill in affecting coyness.

104. passion, passionate confession; the word was formerly used of any strong emotion.

106. Which the dark ... discovered, which (love) has been revealed to you by the darkness of the night whose office should be to conceal; which you have discovered thanks to the darkness of the night.

110. circled, revolving; not, I think, 'round,' as Schmidt explains.

111. likewise, equally.

113. gracious, attractive, finding favour in my eyes; cp. T. A. i. 1. 429, "if ever Tamora Were gracious in those princely eyes of thine." This is the reading of the first quarto, the other old copies giving glorious, which Grant White thinks more suitable to the context.

114.of my idolatry, that I worship.

117. I have ... to-night, I feel no joy in now ratifying with oaths a contract between us. Like Romeo, i. 4. 106-11, she has a presentiment of some evil befalling their plighted love.

118. unadvised, imprudent, formed without sufficient consideration.

121, 2. This bud of love ... meet, this new love of ours, cherished in our hearts, may expand into full growth by the time we next meet, as beneath the summer's warmth the bud expands into a beauteous blossom. as that ... breast, "as to that heart within my breast" (Delius).

126. satisfaction, Delius points out the double sense here of payment and comfort.

129. And yet ... again, and yet I wish I had not given it, in order that I might now again have the joy of giving it.

131. frank, liberal, free of hand; cp. Lear, iii. 4. 20, "Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all."

132. the thing I have. sc. her own infinite love.

143. If that ... honourable, if your love is honourable in its intentions; for that, as a conjunctional affix, see Abb. § 287.

145. procure to come, arrange to have sent.

146. the rite, sc. of marriage.

152. By and by, in a minute, directly.

153. suit. Malone quotes from Brooke's poem, Romeus and Juliet, "and now your Juliet you beseekes To cease your sute, and suffer her to live emong her likes."

154. So thrive my soul — may my soul prosper (according as I mean well to you), the concluding words being broken off by Juliet's farewell.

156. A thousand ... light, in answer to Juliet's wish of good-night he says, nay, not good night but bad night, night made a thousand times the worse by the absence of you who are its only light.

158. toward ... looks, sc. as schoolboys go toward, etc.

159. Hist! Listen!

159, 60. O, for ... again! would that I had a voice that would bring back my gentle Romeo as surely as the falconer's voice brings ack the tassel-gentle! "The tassel or tiercel (for so it should be spelled) is the male of the gosshawk; so called because it is a tierce or third less than the female...This species of hawk had the epithet gentle annexed to it, from the ease with which it was tamed, and its attachment to man" (Steevens). "It appears," adds Malone, "that certain hawks were considered as appropriated to certain ranks. The tercel-gentle was appropriated to the prince, and thence was chosen by Juliet as an appellation for her beloved Romeo."

161. Bondage ... aloud, one fettered, constrained by fear of being overheard, like me, is as much unable to call aloud as one whose voice is stopped by hoarseness of the throat.

162. Else ... lies, otherwise by my loud cries I would rend the cave in which Echo dwells; Echo, an Oread who by Juno was changed into a being neither able to speak until somebody had spoken, nor to be silent when anybody had spoken.

163. And make ... mine, and, by compelling her to repeat my cries, make her hoarser than myself even. Dyce compares Comus, 208, "And airy tongues that syllable men's names On sands and shores and desert wildernesses."

166. silver-sweet, in allusion to the sweet tone of bells made of silver.

167. attending, attentive.

173. to have ... there, in order to keep you standing there.

175. to have ... forget, so that you may continue to forget.

176. Forgetting ... this, forgetting that I have any home but this, forgetting that this is not really my home.

178. a wanton's bird, the pet bird of a mischievous girl, a girl that loves to tease her pets.

180. gyves, chains, fetters.

182. So loving-jealous ... liberty, so fond of it and yet so jealous of its getting its liberty.

186. shall say good night, shall continue saying 'good night.'

188. so sweet to rest, having so sweet a resting place.

189. ghostly father, spiritual father; father, a title given to catholic priests.

190. my dear hap, the good fortune that has befallen me; hap, fortune, chance, accident, from which we get to 'happen' and 'happy.'

How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2013. < >.

How to cite the sidebar:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2013. < >.


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Notes on Romeo and Juliet

microsoft images Juliet appears above at a window (stage direction). Shakespeare did not include this stage direction and it is not in Q1 or the First Folio. It was added in the 17th century and has remained ever since, although some editors choose to place the direction right after Romeo's line "He jests at scars that never felt a wound" (1), while others insert it right before Romeo says "It is my lady, O it is my love" (10).


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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). Read on...


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 Introduction to Juliet
 Introduction to Romeo
 Introduction to Mercutio
 Introduction to The Nurse

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 Famous Quotations from Romeo and Juliet
 Why Shakespeare is so Important

 Shakespeare's Language
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Notes on Shakespeare...

Richard Shakespeare, Shakespeare's paternal grandfather, was a farmer in the small village of Snitterfield, located four miles from Stratford. Records show that Richard worked on several different farms which he leased from various landowners. Coincidentally, Richard leased land from Robert Arden, Shakespeare's maternal grandfather. Read on...

Shakespeare acquired substantial wealth thanks to his acting and writing abilities, and his shares in London theatres. The going rate was £10 per play at the turn of the sixteenth century. So how much money did Shakespeare make? Read on...

Henry Bolingbroke, the eldest son of John of Gaunt and the grandson of King Edward III, was born on April 3, 1367. Henry usurped the throne from the ineffectual King Richard II in 1399, and thus became King Henry IV, the first of the three kings of the House of Lancaster. Read on...

Known to the Elizabethans as ague, Malaria was a common malady spread by the mosquitoes in the marshy Thames. The swampy theatre district of Southwark was always at risk. King James I had it; so too did Shakespeare's friend, Michael Drayton. Read on...

Shakespeare was familiar with seven foreign languages and often quoted them directly in his plays. His vocabulary was the largest of any writer, at over twenty-four thousand words. Read on...