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Romeo and Juliet

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ACT III SCENE III Friar Laurence's cell. 
FRIAR LAURENCERomeo, come forth; come forth, thou fearful man:
Affliction is enamour'd of thy parts,
And thou art wedded to calamity.
[Enter ROMEO]
ROMEOFather, what news? what is the prince's doom?
What sorrow craves acquaintance at my hand,
That I yet know not?
Is my dear son with such sour company:
I bring thee tidings of the prince's doom.
ROMEOWhat less than dooms-day is the prince's doom?
FRIAR LAURENCEA gentler judgment vanish'd from his lips,10
Not body's death, but body's banishment.
ROMEOHa, banishment! be merciful, say 'death;'
For exile hath more terror in his look,
Much more than death: do not say 'banishment.'
FRIAR LAURENCEHence from Verona art thou banished:
Be patient, for the world is broad and wide.
ROMEOThere is no world without Verona walls,
But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
Hence-banished is banish'd from the world,
And world's exile is death: then banished,20
Is death mis-term'd: calling death banishment,
Thou cutt'st my head off with a golden axe,
And smilest upon the stroke that murders me.
FRIAR LAURENCEO deadly sin! O rude unthankfulness!
Thy fault our law calls death; but the kind prince,
Taking thy part, hath rush'd aside the law,
And turn'd that black word death to banishment:
This is dear mercy, and thou seest it not.
ROMEO'Tis torture, and not mercy: heaven is here,
Where Juliet lives; and every cat and dog30
And little mouse, every unworthy thing,
Live here in heaven and may look on her;
But Romeo may not: more validity,
More honourable state, more courtship lives
In carrion-flies than Romeo: they my seize
On the white wonder of dear Juliet's hand
And steal immortal blessing from her lips,
Who even in pure and vestal modesty,
Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin;
But Romeo may not; he is banished:40
Flies may do this, but I from this must fly:
They are free men, but I am banished.
And say'st thou yet that exile is not death?
Hadst thou no poison mix'd, no sharp-ground knife,
No sudden mean of death, though ne'er so mean,
But 'banished' to kill me?--'banished'?
O friar, the damned use that word in hell;
Howlings attend it: how hast thou the heart,
Being a divine, a ghostly confessor,
A sin-absolver, and my friend profess'd,50
To mangle me with that word 'banished'?
FRIAR LAURENCEThou fond mad man, hear me but speak a word.
ROMEOO, thou wilt speak again of banishment.
FRIAR LAURENCEI'll give thee armour to keep off that word:
Adversity's sweet milk, philosophy,
To comfort thee, though thou art banished.
ROMEOYet 'banished'? Hang up philosophy!
Unless philosophy can make a Juliet,
Displant a town, reverse a prince's doom,
It helps not, it prevails not: talk no more.60
FRIAR LAURENCEO, then I see that madmen have no ears.
ROMEOHow should they, when that wise men have no eyes?
FRIAR LAURENCELet me dispute with thee of thy estate.
ROMEOThou canst not speak of that thou dost not feel:
Wert thou as young as I, Juliet thy love,
An hour but married, Tybalt murdered,
Doting like me and like me banished,
Then mightst thou speak, then mightst thou tear thy hair,
And fall upon the ground, as I do now,69
Taking the measure of an unmade grave.
[Knocking within]
FRIAR LAURENCEArise; one knocks; good Romeo, hide thyself.
ROMEONot I; unless the breath of heartsick groans,
Mist-like, infold me from the search of eyes.
FRIAR LAURENCEHark, how they knock! Who's there? Romeo, arise;
Thou wilt be taken. Stay awhile! Stand up;
Run to my study. By and by! God's will,
What simpleness is this! I come, I come!
Who knocks so hard? whence come you? what's your will?
Nurse[Within] Let me come in, and you shall know
my errand;
I come from Lady Juliet.
FRIAR LAURENCEWelcome, then.80
[Enter Nurse]
NurseO holy friar, O, tell me, holy friar,
Where is my lady's lord, where's Romeo?
FRIAR LAURENCEThere on the ground, with his own tears made drunk.
NurseO, he is even in my mistress' case,
Just in her case! O woful sympathy!
Piteous predicament! Even so lies she,
Blubbering and weeping, weeping and blubbering.

Stand up, stand up; stand, and you be a man:
For Juliet's sake, for her sake, rise and stand;
Why should you fall into so deep an O?90
NurseAh sir! ah sir! Well, death's the end of all.
ROMEOSpakest thou of Juliet? how is it with her?
Doth she not think me an old murderer,
Now I have stain'd the childhood of our joy
With blood removed but little from her own?
Where is she? and how doth she? and what says
My conceal'd lady to our cancell'd love?
NurseO, she says nothing, sir, but weeps and weeps;
And now falls on her bed; and then starts up,100
And Tybalt calls; and then on Romeo cries,
And then down falls again.
ROMEOAs if that name,
Shot from the deadly level of a gun,
Did murder her; as that name's cursed hand
Murder'd her kinsman. O, tell me, friar, tell me,
In what vile part of this anatomy
Doth my name lodge? tell me, that I may sack
The hateful mansion.
[Drawing his sword]
FRIAR LAURENCEHold thy desperate hand:
Art thou a man? thy form cries out thou art:
Thy tears are womanish; thy wild acts denote110
The unreasonable fury of a beast:
Unseemly woman in a seeming man!
Or ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!
Thou hast amazed me: by my holy order,
I thought thy disposition better temper'd.
Hast thou slain Tybalt? wilt thou slay thyself?
And stay thy lady too that lives in thee,
By doing damned hate upon thyself?
Why rail'st thou on thy birth, the heaven, and earth?
Since birth, and heaven, and earth, all three do meet120
In thee at once; which thou at once wouldst lose.
Fie, fie, thou shamest thy shape, thy love, thy wit;
Which, like a usurer, abound'st in all,
And usest none in that true use indeed
Which should bedeck thy shape, thy love, thy wit:
Thy noble shape is but a form of wax,
Digressing from the valour of a man;
Thy dear love sworn but hollow perjury,
Killing that love which thou hast vow'd to cherish;
Thy wit, that ornament to shape and love,130
Misshapen in the conduct of them both,
Like powder in a skitless soldier's flask,
Is set afire by thine own ignorance,
And thou dismember'd with thine own defence.
What, rouse thee, man! thy Juliet is alive,
For whose dear sake thou wast but lately dead;
There art thou happy: Tybalt would kill thee,
But thou slew'st Tybalt; there are thou happy too:
The law that threaten'd death becomes thy friend
And turns it to exile; there art thou happy:140
A pack of blessings lights up upon thy back;
Happiness courts thee in her best array;
But, like a misbehaved and sullen wench,
Thou pout'st upon thy fortune and thy love:
Take heed, take heed, for such die miserable.
Go, get thee to thy love, as was decreed,
Ascend her chamber, hence and comfort her:
But look thou stay not till the watch be set,
For then thou canst not pass to Mantua;
Where thou shalt live, till we can find a time150
To blaze your marriage, reconcile your friends,
Beg pardon of the prince, and call thee back
With twenty hundred thousand times more joy
Than thou went'st forth in lamentation.
Go before, nurse: commend me to thy lady;
And bid her hasten all the house to bed,
Which heavy sorrow makes them apt unto:
Romeo is coming.
NurseO Lord, I could have stay'd here all the night
To hear good counsel: O, what learning is!160
My lord, I'll tell my lady you will come.
ROMEODo so, and bid my sweet prepare to chide.
NurseHere, sir, a ring she bid me give you, sir:
Hie you, make haste, for it grows very late.
ROMEOHow well my comfort is revived by this!
FRIAR LAURENCEGo hence; good night; and here stands all your state:
Either be gone before the watch be set,
Or by the break of day disguised from hence:
Sojourn in Mantua; I'll find out your man,
And he shall signify from time to time170
Every good hap to you that chances here:
Give me thy hand; 'tis late: farewell; good night.
ROMEOBut that a joy past joy calls out on me,
It were a grief, so brief to part with thee: Farewell.

Next: Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 4


Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 3

From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
*Line numbers have been adjusted.

1. fearful, apparently combining the sense of 'full of fear' and of 'terrible' in consequence of the awful nature of his calamities.

4. doom, sentence.

5, 6. What sorrow ... not? With what fresh sorrow am I to become acquainted?

8. tidings, news, information; used by Shakespeare both as a singular and a plural noun; literally things that happen, and then information about such things.

9. dooms-day, death; literally the day of death; cp. R. III. V. 1. 12, "Why, then, All-Souls' day is my body's dooms-day."

10. vanished. The nearest approach in Shakespeare to the word used in this sense is in Lucr. 1041, "more vent for passage of her breath; Which, thronging through her lips, so vanisheth As smoke from Aetna." Heath conjectured issued, and it seems not impossible that the word was caught by the copyist from "banishment" in the line below.

16. Be patient ... wide, cp. R. II. i. 3. 275-93.

17. Verona walls. Cp. J. C. i. 1. 63, "Tiber banks"; Oth. i. 1. 151, "Cyprus wars," and for other instances of substantives converted into adjectives, see Abb. § 22.

19. Hence-banished, to be hence banished.

21. mis-term'd, called by too favourable a name: for banished the first quarto gives banishment, which many editors adopt. For a similar insistence on a single word as in the case of "banished" here, cp. M. V. v. 1. 197-200, K. J. iii. 1. 12-5; R. III. i. 3. 292-4.

22. Thou cutt'st ... axe, i.e. you merely employ an euphemism.

23. And smilest ... me, and look cheerfully upon that which is death to me.

25. calls death, calls a capital one.

26. rush'd aside, violently thrust aside; the word is common in modern parlance in the phrase to 'rush' a measure through a meeting.

31. every unworthy thing, every insignificant creature that has no claim to such happiness.

33. more validity, a more valid title to honour, a greater privilege; in A. W. v. 3. 192, "Whose ... rich validity Did lack parallel," the word is used in the simpler sense of value.

34. More honourable state, a higher position: more courtship, not, it seems to me, 'more courtesy,' as is generally interpreted, but 'a better opportunity for wooing'; in M. V. ii. 8. 44, the word means 'courting,' "employ your chiefest thoughts To courtship and such fair ostents of love"; in A. Y. L. iii. 2. 364, the senses of courtesy, civility, and courting are blended together, "an old religious uncle of mine ... who was in his youth an inland man; one that knew courtship well, for there he fell in love"; and in this blended sense Schmidt takes the word here.

36. the white wonder ... hand, that hand of Juliet's so wondrously fair; cp. M. N. D. iii. 2. 144, "O let me kiss That princess of pure white," sc. her hand.

38. vestal, see note on ii. 2. 8: for who, personifying an irrational antecedent; see Abb. § 264.

39. their own kisses, sc. when they meet each other.

40. 3. But Romeo ... death. The old copies vary considerably in these lines, and transpositions and omissions have been employed by the editors to get rid of the repetition involved; I follow the text and order of lines given by Grant White, Furness, and Daniel.

45. No sudden ... mean, no sudden means of death, however poor, ignoble, that means might be. Shakespeare uses both the singular and the plural form of the word mean and the plural form as a singular noun, as so commonly nowadays.

48. Howlings attend it, it is accompanied by howls and groans; cp. iii. 2. 44.

49. a divine, a man of priestly office.

52. fond, foolish; see note on ii. 2. 98.

55. Adversity's sweet milk, the food that sweetens adversity; cp. A. Y. L. ii. 1. 12, et seqq.

57. Hang up philosophy! away with philosophy! throw it aside for a more convenient season.

59. Displant a town, transplant it to the scene of my exile, and so bring Juliet with it.

60. prevails not, is of no use.

62. How should they, how is it to be expected that they should have? when that, for the conjunctional affix, see Abb. § 287.

63. Let me ... estate, let me argue with you as to the position in which you are placed by being exiled. So, W. T. iv. 4. 411, "can he speak? hear? Know man from man? dispute his own estate?" i.e. reason of his own affairs, but perhaps with the added sense of vindicating his right to what he possesses.

70. Taking ... grave, lying my full length on the ground, as I soon shall do in my grave. Cp. A. Y. L. ii. 6. 2, "Here lie I down and measure out my grave"; Lear, i. 4. 100, "If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry," i.e. if you wish to be knocked down again.

72. Mist-like ... eyes, cp. above, i. 1. 176.

74. Who's there? said, like "Stay-a-while," "By-and-by," "I come, I come," in the following lines, to the person knocking, whom the Friar fancies to be someone come to arrest Romeo.

76. study, private reading-room.

77. simpleness, folly.

79. errand, business on which I come, message that I bring; the ulterior etymology of the word is disputed, though we get the word from A. S. arende, a message, business.

85, 6. O woful ... predicament. The old copies all give these words to the Nurse, the present arrangement being Farmer's. Delius would leave them with the Nurse, on the ground that throughout this and the following scenes the readiness of the Friar to act is in contrast with the vain wailings of the Nurse and Romeo. But such language seems much out of place in the Nurse's mouth.

87. Blubbering, weeping copiously, effusively, the radical sense being that of bubbling up; generally used derisively. The sense of weeping till the face swells is due to the influence of the adjective blubber = swollen.

90. so deep an O, such cries of affliction, such depths of despair; possibly, from the words fall into, with the idea of a deep hole.

92. Well, ... all, well, we must all die some day, and then at all events our troubles will be at an end.

94. an old murderer, a confirmed murderer; but said for the sake of the antithesis with the childhood of our joy in the next line.

98. My conceal'd lady, "my lady, whose being so, together with our marriage which made her so, is concealed from the world " (Heath): cancell'd, rendered void, annulled; originally to obliterate by drawing lines over a writing in the form of lattice- work, from Lat. cancellus, a grating.

103. deadly level of a gun, gun levelled with deadly aim.

106, 7. In what part ... lodge, cp. Cymb. ii. 4. 19, 20, "Could I find out The woman's part in me!", where the action is implied; for anatomy, = body, cp. T. N. iii. 2. 67, "I'll eat the rest of the anatomy," where, as here, the expression is a scornful one.

108. mansion. Cp. above, iii. 2. 26, where Juliet uses with such pride a term that in Romeo's mouth is here so disdainful.

109. cries out, proclaims.

112. Unseemly ... man, whereby you, who in form are a man, are transformed into an effeminate woman, a transformation that ill becomes you.

113. Or ill-beseeming ... both, or, rather I should call you, a hideous animal, partaking the form of a man, and the effeminate nature of a woman; with the idea in seeming of specious appearance.

114. amazed, astounded; literally bewildered: order, the religious society of which he was a member, the Franciscan Order of monks. See note on v. 2. 1.

11-5. temper'd, framed, conditioned.

116. Hast thou ... myself? will you after having committed one rash crime, now commit another equally rash?

118. damned hate, an act of hatred against yourself for which you will consign your soul to perdition; though perhaps damned means no more than accursed, execrable.

119. Why rail'st ... earth? Probably, as Malone remarks, Shakespeare is here following Brooke's Romeus and Juliet, in which such railing is found, though Ulrici suggests that the railing may be supposed to have taken place before the scene opens.

120, 1. all three ... once, all have a share in you, all go to the making up of you: lose, hastily throw away.

122. wit, good sense.

123. Which, though you, seeing that you.

126. is but ... wax, is no better than a form moulded out of wax.

127. Digressing from, if you abandon.

128. Thy dear love ... perjury, you make a hollow mockery of the oaths you have so solemnly taken (in marriage).

129. that love, that loved one: cherish. A reference to the Marriage Service in which the husband swears that he takes his wife "for better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part."

130, 1. Thy wit, ... both, that good sense which, if properly used, so well becomes your outwardly comely form and the passion with which your heart is inspired, being distorted by the way in which you employ it towards yourself and your heart's feelings.

132. Like powder ... flask. "The ancient English soldiers, using match-locks instead of locks with fints, were obliged to carry a lighted match hanging at their belts, very near to the wooden flask in which they kept their powder" (Steevens).

134. dismember'd, utterly destroyed; in a literal sense, blown to pieces: thine own defence, that which should be your protection.

135. rouse thee, shake off this morbid despondency.

136. For whose ... dead, for desire of whom you were lately at the point of death; see his passionate language to the Friar, ii. 3, or perhaps the reference may be to words supposed to be spoken while Romeo was in hiding at the Friar's cell.

137. There, in that matter; would, wished, sought, to.

141. A pack ... back, instead of a burden to be wearily borne, a shower of blessings descends upon you; so T. G. iii. 1. 20, "a pack of woes."

143. misbehaved, ill-mannered; not gratified at being made love to by happiness in all its bright attire, but disdainful and sulky.

144. pout'st upon, make a wry face at; cp. Cor. v. i. 52, "The veins unfill'd, our blood is cold, and then We pout upon the morning."

146. decreed, determined upon between you; cp. M. A. i. 3. 35, "I have decraed not to sing in my cage."

147. Ascend, sc. by the rope ladder: hence, be off at once!

148. But look ... not, take care not to delay: the watch, the night police who were posted at a certain hour.

149. pass to Mantua, make your way out of the city to Mantua.

150. a time, a suitable opportunity.

151. To blaze, to make public, proclaim; originally to blow, as with a trumpet.

157. Which heavy ... unto, to which they will be all the more disposed on account of their sorrow for Tybalt.

160. what learning is! what a fine thing it is to be learned! The omission of the article is frequent in Shakespeare in exclamations of astonishment, etc.; so J. C. i. 3. 42, "Cassius, what night is this?", i.e. what a terrible night this is; Cymb. iv. 4. 35, "what thing it is that I never Did see man die!", i.e. what a disgrace it is that I never took part in battle.

165. is revived by this, sc. by the proof she had given, in sending the ring, of her continued love in spite of knowing that he had slain Tybalt.

166. here stands ... state, this is the position in which you stand, what you must do. Johnson explains, "The whole of your fortune depends on this."

170. signify, make known by letter or messenger.

173. past joy, beyond all other joy.

174. so brief, so briefly, with such few words of farewell.


How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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