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Romeo and Juliet

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ACT V SCENE III A churchyard; in it a tomb belonging to the Capulets. 
[Enter PARIS, and his Page bearing flowers and a torch]
PARISGive me thy torch, boy: hence, and stand aloof:
Yet put it out, for I would not be seen.
Under yond yew-trees lay thee all along,
Holding thine ear close to the hollow ground;
So shall no foot upon the churchyard tread,
Being loose, unfirm, with digging up of graves,
But thou shalt hear it: whistle then to me,
As signal that thou hear'st something approach.
Give me those flowers. Do as I bid thee, go.
PAGE[Aside] I am almost afraid to stand alone 10
Here in the churchyard; yet I will adventure.
PARISSweet flower, with flowers thy bridal bed I strew,--
O woe! thy canopy is dust and stones;--
Which with sweet water nightly I will dew,
Or, wanting that, with tears distill'd by moans:
The obsequies that I for thee will keep
Nightly shall be to strew thy grave and weep.
[The Page whistles]
The boy gives warning something doth approach.
What cursed foot wanders this way to-night,
To cross my obsequies and true love's rite?20
What with a torch! muffle me, night, awhile.
[ Enter ROMEO and BALTHASAR, with a torch, mattock, etc. ]
ROMEOGive me that mattock and the wrenching iron.
Hold, take this letter; early in the morning

See thou deliver it to my lord and father.
Give me the light: upon thy life, I charge thee,
Whate'er thou hear'st or seest, stand all aloof,
And do not interrupt me in my course.
Why I descend into this bed of death,
Is partly to behold my lady's face;
But chiefly to take thence from her dead finger30
A precious ring, a ring that I must use
In dear employment: therefore hence, be gone:
But if thou, jealous, dost return to pry
In what I further shall intend to do,
By heaven, I will tear thee joint by joint
And strew this hungry churchyard with thy limbs:
The time and my intents are savage-wild,
More fierce and more inexorable far
Than empty tigers or the roaring sea.
BALTHASARI will be gone, sir, and not trouble you.40
ROMEOSo shalt thou show me friendship. Take thou that:
Live, and be prosperous: and farewell, good fellow.
BALTHASAR[Aside] For all this same, I'll hide me hereabout:
His looks I fear, and his intents I doubt.
ROMEOThou detestable maw, thou womb of death,
Gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth,
Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open,
And, in despite, I'll cram thee with more food!
[Opens the tomb]
PARISThis is that banish'd haughty Montague,
That murder'd my love's cousin, with which grief,50
It is supposed, the fair creature died;
And here is come to do some villanous shame
To the dead bodies: I will apprehend him.
[Comes forward]
Stop thy unhallow'd toil, vile Montague!
Can vengeance be pursued further than death?
Condemned villain, I do apprehend thee:
Obey, and go with me; for thou must die.
ROMEOI must indeed; and therefore came I hither.
Good gentle youth, tempt not a desperate man;
Fly hence, and leave me: think upon these gone;60
Let them affright thee. I beseech thee, youth,
Put not another sin upon my head,
By urging me to fury: O, be gone!
By heaven, I love thee better than myself;
For I come hither arm'd against myself:
Stay not, be gone; live, and hereafter say,
A madman's mercy bade thee run away.
PARISI do defy thy conjurations,
And apprehend thee for a felon here.
ROMEOWilt thou provoke me? then have at thee, boy!70
[They fight]
PAGEO Lord, they fight! I will go call the watch.
PARISO, I am slain!
If thou be merciful,
Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet.
ROMEOIn faith, I will. Let me peruse this face.
Mercutio's kinsman, noble County Paris!
What said my man, when my betossed soul
Did not attend him as we rode? I think
He told me Paris should have married Juliet:
Said he not so? or did I dream it so?80
Or am I mad, hearing him talk of Juliet,
To think it was so? O, give me thy hand,
One writ with me in sour misfortune's book!
I'll bury thee in a triumphant grave;
A grave? O no! a lantern, slaughter'd youth,
For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes
This vault a feasting presence full of light.
Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interr'd.
[Laying PARIS in the tomb]
How oft when men are at the point of death
Have they been merry! which their keepers call
A lightning before death: O, how may I90
Call this a lightning? O my love! my wife!
Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty:
Thou art not conquer'd; beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death's pale flag is not advanced there.
Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet?
O, what more favour can I do to thee,
Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain
To sunder his that was thine enemy?100
Forgive me, cousin! Ah, dear Juliet,
Why art thou yet so fair? shall I believe
That unsubstantial death is amorous,
And that the lean abhorred monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour?
For fear of that, I still will stay with thee;
And never from this palace of dim night
Depart again: here, here will I remain
With worms that are thy chamber-maids; O, here
Will I set up my everlasting rest,110
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death!
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide!
Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark!
Here's to my love!
O true apothecary!
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.120
[ Enter, at the other end of the churchyard, FRIAR LAURENCE, with a lantern, crow, and spade ]
FRIAR LAURENCESaint Francis be my speed! how oft to-night
Have my old feet stumbled at graves! Who's there?
BALTHASARHere's one, a friend, and one that knows you well.
FRIAR LAURENCEBliss be upon you! Tell me, good my friend,
What torch is yond, that vainly lends his light
To grubs and eyeless skulls? as I discern,
It burneth in the Capel's monument.
BALTHASARIt doth so, holy sir; and there's my master,
One that you love.
FRIAR LAURENCEHow long hath he been there?
BALTHASARFull half an hour.130
FRIAR LAURENCEGo with me to the vault.
BALTHASARI dare not, sir
My master knows not but I am gone hence;
And fearfully did menace me with death,
If I did stay to look on his intents.
FRIAR LAURENCEStay, then; I'll go alone. Fear comes upon me:
O, much I fear some ill unlucky thing.
BALTHASARAs I did sleep under this yew-tree here,
I dreamt my master and another fought,
And that my master slew him.
Alack, alack, what blood is this, which stains140
The stony entrance of this sepulchre?
What mean these masterless and gory swords
To lie discolour'd by this place of peace?
[Enters the tomb]
Romeo! O, pale! Who else? what, Paris too?
And steep'd in blood? Ah, what an unkind hour
Is guilty of this lamentable chance!
The lady stirs.
[JULIET wakes]
JULIETO comfortable friar! where is my lord?
I do remember well where I should be,
And there I am. Where is my Romeo?150
[Noise within]
FRIAR LAURENCEI hear some noise. Lady, come from that nest
Of death, contagion, and unnatural sleep:
A greater power than we can contradict
Hath thwarted our intents. Come, come away.
Thy husband in thy bosom there lies dead;
And Paris too. Come, I'll dispose of thee
Among a sisterhood of holy nuns:
Stay not to question, for the watch is coming;
Come, go, good Juliet,
[Noise again]
I dare no longer stay.
JULIETGo, get thee hence, for I will not away.
What's here? a cup, closed in my true love's hand?
Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end:
O churl! drunk all, and left no friendly drop
To help me after? I will kiss thy lips;
Haply some poison yet doth hang on them,
To make die with a restorative.
[Kisses him]
Thy lips are warm.
First Watchman[Within] Lead, boy: which way?
JULIETYea, noise? then I'll be brief. O happy dagger!
[Snatching ROMEO's dagger]
This is thy sheath;
[Stabs herself]
there rust, and let me die.
[Falls on ROMEO's body, and dies]
[Enter Watch, with the Page of PARIS]
PAGEThis is the place; there, where the torch doth burn.
First WatchmanThe ground is bloody; search about the churchyard:171
Go, some of you, whoe'er you find attach.
Pitiful sight! here lies the county slain,
And Juliet bleeding, warm, and newly dead,
Who here hath lain these two days buried.
Go, tell the prince: run to the Capulets:
Raise up the Montagues: some others search:
We see the ground whereon these woes do lie;
But the true ground of all these piteous woes
We cannot without circumstance descry.180
[Re-enter some of the Watch, with BALTHASAR]
Second WatchmanHere's Romeo's man; we found him in the churchyard.
First WatchmanHold him in safety, till the prince come hither.
[Re-enter others of the Watch, with FRIAR LAURENCE]
Third WatchmanHere is a friar, that trembles, sighs and weeps:
We took this mattock and this spade from him,
As he was coming from this churchyard side.
First WatchmanA great suspicion: stay the friar too.
[Enter the PRINCE and Attendants]
PRINCEWhat misadventure is so early up,
That calls our person from our morning's rest?
[Enter CAPULET, LADY CAPULET, and others]
CAPULETWhat should it be, that they so shriek abroad?
LADY CAPULETThe people in the street cry Romeo,190
Some Juliet, and some Paris; and all run,
With open outcry toward our monument.
PRINCEWhat fear is this which startles in our ears?
First WatchmanSovereign, here lies the County Paris slain;
And Romeo dead; and Juliet, dead before,
Warm and new kill'd.
PRINCESearch, seek, and know how this foul murder comes.
First WatchmanHere is a friar, and slaughter'd Romeo's man;200
With instruments upon them, fit to open
These dead men's tombs.
CAPULETO heavens! O wife, look how our daughter bleeds!
This dagger hath mista'en--for, lo, his house
Is empty on the back of Montague,--
And it mis-sheathed in my daughter's bosom!
LADY CAPULETO me! this sight of death is as a bell,
That warns my old age to a sepulchre.
[Enter MONTAGUE and others]
PRINCECome, Montague; for thou art early up,
To see thy son and heir more early down.
MONTAGUEAlas, my liege, my wife is dead to-night;
Grief of my son's exile hath stopp'd her breath:210
What further woe conspires against mine age?
PRINCELook, and thou shalt see.
MONTAGUEO thou untaught! what manners is in this?
To press before thy father to a grave?
PRINCESeal up the mouth of outrage for a while,
Till we can clear these ambiguities,
And know their spring, their head, their
true descent;
And then will I be general of your woes,
And lead you even to death: meantime forbear,
And let mischance be slave to patience.220
Bring forth the parties of suspicion.
FRIAR LAURENCEI am the greatest, able to do least,
Yet most suspected, as the time and place
Doth make against me of this direful murder;
And here I stand, both to impeach and purge
Myself condemned and myself excused.
PRINCEThen say at once what thou dost know in this.
FRIAR LAURENCEI will be brief, for my short date of breath
Is not so long as is a tedious tale.
Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet;230
And she, there dead, that Romeo's faithful wife:
I married them; and their stol'n marriage-day
Was Tybalt's dooms-day, whose untimely death
Banish'd the new-made bridegroom from the city,
For whom, and not for Tybalt, Juliet pined.
You, to remove that siege of grief from her,
Betroth'd and would have married her perforce
To County Paris: then comes she to me,
And, with wild looks, bid me devise some mean
To rid her from this second marriage,240
Or in my cell there would she kill herself.
Then gave I her, so tutor'd by my art,
A sleeping potion; which so took effect
As I intended, for it wrought on her
The form of death: meantime I writ to Romeo,
That he should hither come as this dire night,
To help to take her from her borrow'd grave,
Being the time the potion's force should cease.
But he which bore my letter, Friar John,
Was stay'd by accident, and yesternight250
Return'd my letter back. Then all alone
At the prefixed hour of her waking,
Came I to take her from her kindred's vault;
Meaning to keep her closely at my cell,
Till I conveniently could send to Romeo:
But when I came, some minute ere the time
Of her awaking, here untimely lay
The noble Paris and true Romeo dead.
She wakes; and I entreated her come forth,
And bear this work of heaven with patience:260
But then a noise did scare me from the tomb;
And she, too desperate, would not go with me,
But, as it seems, did violence on herself.
All this I know; and to the marriage
Her nurse is privy: and, if aught in this
Miscarried by my fault, let my old life
Be sacrificed, some hour before his time,
Unto the rigour of severest law.
PRINCEWe still have known thee for a holy man.
Where's Romeo's man? what can he say in this?270
BALTHASARI brought my master news of Juliet's death;
And then in post he came from Mantua
To this same place, to this same monument.
This letter he early bid me give his father,
And threatened me with death, going in the vault,
I departed not and left him there.
PRINCEGive me the letter; I will look on it.
Where is the county's page, that raised the watch?
Sirrah, what made your master in this place?279
PAGEHe came with flowers to strew his lady's grave;
And bid me stand aloof, and so I did:
Anon comes one with light to ope the tomb;
And by and by my master drew on him;
And then I ran away to call the watch.
PRINCEThis letter doth make good the friar's words,
Their course of love, the tidings of her death:
And here he writes that he did buy a poison
Of a poor 'pothecary, and therewithal
Came to this vault to die, and lie with Juliet.
Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!290
See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
And I for winking at your discords too
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish'd.
CAPULETO brother Montague, give me thy hand:
This is my daughter's jointure, for no more
Can I demand.
MONTAGUEBut I can give thee more:
For I will raise her statue in pure gold;
That while Verona by that name is known,
There shall no figure at such rate be set300
As that of true and faithful Juliet.
CAPULETAs rich shall Romeo's by his lady's lie;
Poor sacrifices of our enmity!
PRINCEA glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

Back to Romeo and Juliet, Scenes


Explanatory Notes for Act 5, Scene 3
From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.


Stage Direction. A churchyard. "It is clear that Shakespeare, or some writer whom he followed, had in mind the churchyard of Saint Mary the Old in Verona, and the monument of the Scaligers which stood in it. We have nothing in England which corresponds to this scene, and no monument or vault in which such scenes as this could be exhibited" ... (Hunter).

1. aloof, away, at a distance; "from a, prep. + loof, luff, weather-gage, windward direction; perhaps immediately from Du. loef, in te loef, to the windward"... (Murray, Eng. Dict.).

2. Yet, contradicting his first order to give him the torch.

3. lay ... along, lie down at full length.

4. Holding ... ground, in which position the tread of any one approaching would be more easily heard; hollow, and therefore more readily reverberating to any sound; so T. S., Ind. ii. 48, "And fetch shrill echoes from the hollow earth."

6. Being, it being.

7. But thou ... it, without your hearing it.

10. to stand alone, to be alone; there being no reference to his standing or his lying down as directed by Paris.

13. canopy, covering...: is dust and stones, i.e. not a fitting canopy for one like you.

14. Which, sc. the "bridal bed": sweet water, scented, perfumed, water.

15. distill'd by moans, forced from the eyes by grief.

16. obsequies, funeral rites; Lat. obsequiae, funeral rites, literally 'following close upon': keep, observe, pay.

9. cursed, because interrupting him.

20. To cross my obsequies, to hinder the obsequies I am paying.

21. Muffle, wrap me in darkness; Steevens compares the word, used in a neuter sense, Comus, 330, "Unmuffle, ye faint stars"; and Dyce points out that a 'muffler' "is a sort of wrapper worn by women, which generally covered the mouth and chin, but sometimes almost the whole face." In M. W. iv. 2. 73, one is produced by Mrs. Ford to disguise Falstaff in.

22. mattock, a kind of pick-axe for tearing up the earth.

26. all aloof, quite away; so that he might not witness what was done.

28. Why I descend, my reason for descending.

32. In dear employment, in a matter of the greatest importance; "'dear' is used of whatever touches us nearly either in love or hate, joy or sorrow" (Cl. Pr. Edd. on Haml. i. 2. 182, "my dearest foe").

33. jealous, suspicious; cp. Lear, i. 4. 75, "which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity."

34. shall intend to do, may have an intention of doing; shall indicating some further intention he certainly will have.

35. joint by joint, piecemeal, each joint from the other.

36. hungry, as though the churchyard was for ever longing for fresh corpses, never satisfied however many might be buried in it.

37. The time ... savage-wild, the thoughts in my mind are wild even to savageness and this midnight hour well accords with them.

39. empty, starving.

41. that, giving him money.

43. For all this same, in spite of all these injunctions and threats.

44. His looks I fear, not as regards his own personal safety, but as regards Romeo's intentions against himself.

45. Detestable. Accented on the first syllable, as in iv. 5. 56, K. J. iii. 4. 29.

48. And, in despite ... food, out of hatred to you, not to satisfy your gluttonous voracity, I will cram you with my own body also.

50. with which grief, owing to which grief.

52. is come, the omission of the nominative is most common with 'has,' 'is,' 'was'; see Abb. § 400.

55. Can vengeance ... death? is it possible that you are not satisfied with the vengeance you have already taken in killing Tybalt? a particular, not a general, question.

56. Condemned, not merely condemned by law, but accursed for his intentions.

58. therefore, for that very purpose.

59. Good gentle youth. "The gentleness of Romeo was shown before as softened by love, and now it is doubled by love and sorrow, and awe of the place where he is" (Coleridge).

60. gone, dead; a euphemism.

61. Let them affright thee, let their deaths deter you from such a rash act as that of seizing a man so desperate as myself.

62. another sin, i.e. of killing him.

67. A madman's ... away, a madman in a lucid interval of mercy bade you run away, and thus you escaped to tell the tale.

68. conjurations, earnest appeals, entreaties; cp. R. II. iii. 2. 23, H. V. i. 2. 29; the verb in this sense is common enough.

70. have at thee, see note on i. 1. 59.

71. the watch, the police, as we should now say.

74. peruse, examine closely; originally meaning to use thoroughly or carefully.

76. betossed, storm-tossed, violently agitated.

77. attend him, pay heed to his words.

78. should have, was to have; see Abb. § 325.

81. To think, in thinking; the infinitive used indefinitely.

82. One writ ... book, one, like myself, entered as a debtor in misfortune's account-book; or perhaps only enrolled in the list of the unfortunate.

83. triumphant, glorious, splendid; cp. A. C. ii. 2. 189, "a most triumphant lady."

84. a lantern. "A spacious round or octagonal turret full of windows, by means of which cathedrals, and sometimes halls, are illuminated. See the beautiful lantern at Ely Minster" (Steevens).

86. a feasting presence, a stateroom in all the splendour of a feast; cp. R. II. i. 3. 289, "Suppose ... The grave whereon thou tread'st the presence strewed"; H. VIII. iii. 1. 17, "the two great cardinals Wait in the presence."

87. Death, the abstract for the concrete; Lettsom conjectures Dead, and Dyce so reads: a dead man, sc. himself, whom he now regards as nothing better than dead.

89. keepers, attendants.

90. A lightning before death. "A proverbial phrase, partly deduced from observation of some extraordinary effort of nature, often made in sick persons just before death; and partly from a superstitious notion of an ominous and preternatural mirth, supposed to come on at that period, without any ostensible reason." So in Addison's pathetic description of Sir Roger's death, Spectator No. 115, "Indeed we were once in great hope of his recovery, upon a kind message that was sent him from the widow lady whom he had made love to the forty last years of his life; but this only proved a lightning before death."

90-2. How may I ... Death, but my merry mood (sc. as exhibited in 1. 89) has none of the brightness which lights up the minds of dying men: the honey ... breath, your honeyed breath; cp. Haml. iii. 1. 164, "That suck'd the honey of his music vows."

93. no power ... upon, no power to deface.

94, 5. beauty's ensign ... cheeks, beauty's ensign, the roseate flush of youth and health, still flies proudly in your cheeks; a metaphor from a flag flying bravely on the walls of a fortress that defies its besiegers.

96. is not advanced there, has not yet been able to displace the ensign of your beauty; advanced, a technical term for the waving of standards, as in M. W. iii. 4. 85, "I must advance the colours of my love. And not retire;" K. J. ii. 1. 207, "These flags of France, that are advanced here Before the eye and prospect of your town."

97. sheet, winding-sheet, in which it is customary to wrap a corpse, as in iii. H. VI. i. 1. 129, ii. 5. 114.

101. Forgive me, cousin. "Inexpressibly beautiful and moving is this gentleness of Romeo's in his death hour. His yearning to be at peace with his foe, his beseeching pardon of him and calling him kinsman in token of final atonement, his forbearance and even magnanimity towards Paris, his words of closing consideration and kindly farewell to his faithful Balthasar, all combine to crown Romeo as the prince of youthful gentlemen and lovers" (Clarke).

103. unsubstantial, immaterial, incorporeal; cp. Lear, iv. 1. 7, "Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace."

107. this palace of dim night, the darkness of the tomb.

109. thy chamber-maids, your attendants; in Hamlet the imagery regarding worms is of a very different type; see iv. 2. 20 et seqq.

110. Will I set up ... rest, I am determined to find my last long home. The origin of the phrase 'to set up one's rest' has been much debated. According to Steevens, it is taken from the manner of firing the harquebuses, which was so heavy that a supporter, called a rest, was fixed in the ground before the piece was levelled to take aim. Others derive it from a term used in games at cards, more particularly primero, in which the rest was the stake laid down, and 'to set up one's rest' was to announce the highest stake that the player was prepared to make on the cards he held in his hand. Probably the two ideas were combined to express a settled resolution.

111, 2. And shake ... flesh, and, weary as I am of life, no longer submit to be driven hither and thither as my ill-starred fate may choose.

115. A dateless ... death, an eternal bargain with death that sooner or later seizes on everything; dateless is here used in a legal sense; and in R. II. i. 2. 151, "The sly slow hours shall not determinate The dateless limit of thy dear exile," both "dateless" and "determinate" are allusive to the same phraseology: so too engrossing in the sense of purchasing or seizing in the gross.

116. conduct, conductor; as above, iii. 1. 120; here the drug he is about to swallow. Possibly, from the combination of conduct, pilot, and bark, Shakespeare, as in R. III. i. 4. 46, was thinking of Charon, the ferryman of souls over the river Styx ... conductor of the dead.

118. sea-sick, life being commonly compared to an ocean.

119. true, sc. in having said that the effect of the drug would be instantaneous, and perhaps with the sense of his being a true physician of his (Romeo's) evils.

121. be my speed, guide and help me.

122. stumbled. In those days of omens considered an unlucky accident; so in R. III. iii. 4. 86, Hastings, when on his way to death, after speaking of an ill dream of Stanley's, continues, "Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble. And startled, when he look'd upon the Tower, As loath to bear me to the slaughter-house"; on which Tawney quotes Melton's Astrologaster, "That if a man stumbles in the morning, as soon as he comes out of doores, it is a sign of ill lucke."

125. yond, that which I see yonder.

126. grubs, insects, worms, etc.: as I discern, as well as I can judge.

132. My master ... hence, my master fancies I have gone home.

135. Fear, not the physical fear of some danger to himself, but a presentiment of some evil befallen Romeo.

137-9. As I did sleep ... him. Balthasar believes that what he had actually seen was nothing but a dream, or possibly he may not like to confess that he really witnessed the combat.

142. masterless. that no longer own a master; again applied to swords in Cymb. ii. 4. 60.

143. To lie discolourd, by lying stained with blood; the infinitive used indefinitely; see Abb, § 356: this place of peace, this place which should be sacred from all quarrels.

145. what an unkind hour, what a cruel hour is this which is, etc.

148. comfortable. In speaking of "certain words dealing with the agent," Walker, Crit. Exam. etc., pp. 99, 100, says "comfortable — and in like manner uncomfortable and discomfortable — are uniformly applied to a person, or to a thing personified, the idea of will and purpose being always implied in them." Among other passages which he quotes in illustration are Tim. iv. 3. 497, A. W. i. 1. 86, Lear, i. 4. 327, R. II. iii. 2. 36, and that in the text.

151. that nest, as we should say, 'that den,' though nest gives a fuller idea of abundance. In "a nest of traitors," W. T. ii. 3. 81, there is the same idea of fullness.

152. unnatural. Steevens says that the sleep of Juliet was unnatural as being brought on by drugs, and this has always seemed to me to be the sense. Delius and Schmidt interpret "where it is unnatural to sleep."

153. contradict, contend against.

155. Thy husband ... dead, your husband lying there in your arms is dead.

156. dispose of thee, make arrangements for your living.

158. to question, to talk, to discuss what is best.

162. timeless, untimely, premature.

163. O churl, said in loving reproach.

164. To help me after, to enable me to follow you.

166. a restorative, a medicine which will restore me to the truest life, a life of union with you in death.

169. there rust, not in your own natural sheath, but in the sheath of my breast; the first quarto gives rest, which many editors prefer, and possibly this is supported by the antithesis with Let me die, though to me rust seems the more expressive word.

172. whoe'er. For neglect of the inflection of who, see Abb. § 274: attach, apprehend; a legal term.

175. this two days, see note on iv. 3. 40.

177. some others search, let some seek out others.

178. these woes, these miserable ones.

179. ground, with a wretched pun.

180. circumstance, further detail, particulars, or perhaps inquiry into such detail; cp. above, ii. 5. 36.

186. A great suspicion. Said with true Dogberry solemnity.

187. is so early up. As if the misadventure, like himself, had risen early from bed, was stirring early; cp., for the quasi-personification, K. J. v. 5. 21, "The day shall not be up so soon as I.'

189. should it be, can it possibly be.

192. With open outcry, like dogs in full cry after game.

193. startles, suddenly bursts forth; this intransitive use is now obsolete, to 'start' being used in its stead.

195. dead before, as she had been supposed to be.

197. know, ascertain by inquiry.

202. hath mista'en, has mistaken its proper abode: his house, its sheath.

203. on the back, daggers being worn behind the back.

204. And it mis-sheathed, for it, the reading of the second quarto, most editors prefer is, which the other copies give. In this case the words "for, lo, ... Montague" are parenthetical.

205. 6. is as a bell ... sepulchre, is like a bell summoning me to my death: cp. K. J. ii. 1. 201, "Who is it that hath warned us to the walls?" and Macb. ii. 1. 62-4. "the bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven or to hell."

208. down, struck down in death; with a play on the words up and down.

211. conspires ... age, conspires to put an end to an old man like me.

213. O thou untaught! O ill-disciplined one! manners, regarded as a singular in thought; see Abb. § 335.

214. To press ... grave? comparing the rudeness to that of pressing before a father into a room, etc.

215. the mouth of outrage, your passionate exclamations. Staunton compares i. H. VI. iv. 1. 126, "are you not ashamed With this immodest clamorous outrage To trouble and disturb the king and us?". where the reference is to the "audacious prate" of York, Somerset, etc.

216. ambiguities, obscure relation of events; now generally used of language which may bear two meanings.

217. descent, origin; carrying on the metaphor of a stream that flows downward from its source.

218, 9. will I ... death, I will put myself at the head of your grievances and lead you on to vengeance, even if that vengeance be the death of those to whom those grievances are due.

220. And let ... patience, and let calamity submit patiently to calm endurance; patiently control your sense of injury.

221. parties of suspicion, those suspected, those who have a part, share, in the suspicion that is abroad.

222. I am ... least, I, though least capable (physically) of such a deed, am most suspected of having committed it.

224. Doth make against me, tell against me, as witnesses against me; time and place is to be taken as a single idea.

225, 6. both to impeach ... excused, to accuse myself while pleading my excuse, and at the same time to clear myself while decreeing my condemnation; i.e. to accuse myself on account of my actions, to excuse myself on account of my intentions. For a similar collocation, cp. A. C. iv. 12, 8, 9, "His fretted fortunes give him hope, and fear, Of what he has, and has not"; W. T. iii. 6. 165, "though I with death, and with Reward, did threaten and encourage him Not doing it, and being done." In impeach the original idea is that of hindering, F. empecher, to hinder, the first step in an accusation being to hinder the accused from evading jurisdiction.

227. in this, in, or of, this matter.

228, 9. for my short ... tale, for the short time I have to live is not long enough for a tedious tale; my short date of breath = the short date of my breath; cp. for the transposition, A. C. iv. 6. 39, "My latter part of life," i.e. the latter part of my life; Haml. iv. 5. 213, "His means of death," i.e. the means of his death; and see Abb. § 423.

232. their stol'n marriage-day, the day of their stolen marriage, of their marriage stealthily celebrated.

234. Banish'd, caused to be banished.

236. siege, attack, assault; cp. above, i. 1. 218. and K. J. V. 7. 16, "his (sc. death's) siege is now Against the mind." So Lamb talks of "an obsession of grief."

239. bid, past tense.

240. rid her from, enable her to escape from.

245. form, appearance.

246. as this dire night. Allen on Temp. i. 2. 70, "as at this time," considers as in such expressions to mark a greater or less precision or emphasis; Abbott, § 114, though regarding as in definitions of time as apparently redundant, thinks that here it may mean 'as (he did come),' which seems to me to be a great forcing of language.

247. borrowed grave, grave not properly her own.

248. Being the time. "This belongs to 'as this dire night'" (Delius).

250. stay'd, prevented.

252. hour, metrically a dissyllable; see Abb. § 480.

254. closely, in secrecy.

256. some minute, a minute or so.

258. true, faithful in his love.

260. this work of heaven, i.e. Romeo's death.

262. too desperate, sc. to care for life without Romeo: would not go, refused to go.

263. as it seems. The Friar having left her was not actual witness of her suicide.

267. some hour, some short time. i.e. for it cannot be long before I shall die in the course of nature.

269. still, ever: for, as being.

270. what can ... this? what evidence can he give as to this matter?

272. in post, see note on v. i. 21.

275. going in the vault, as he entered the vault.

278. raised, summoned, called up.

279. what made your master, what was your master doing here? what business or object had he in coming here.

282. Anon, suddenly; see note on ii. 2. 137.

283. by and by, presently, after a short interval.

285. make good, confirm, substantiate.

291. See, what ... hate, see how your hatred is punished.

292. That heaven ... love! in the fact that heaven employs the love that was exchanged between Romeo and Juliet (and which should have been a bond of union to the two families) as a means to crush all happiness out of your lives.

293. winking at, partially closing my eyes to, not taking that vigorous notice which, as the head of the state, I was bound to take.

296. This is ... jointure, the only dowry you can make my daughter; jointure, properly the property estated on the wife by the husband when they are joined in marriage.

299. by that name, as 'Verona.'

300. at such rate be set, be valued at so high a price.

302. As rich, in equal splendour.

303. Poor ... enmity, an inadequate atonement for our hatred.

304. glooming, gloomy; which the fourth folio gives. The participle seems more forcible from its notion of activity.

305. for sorrow, on account of sorrow.

306. Go hence, to have, accompanying me hence, in order that we may have.

307. Some ... punished. In the novel from which the plot is taken, says Steevens, we find that the Nurse was banished for concealing the marriage, Balthasar set at liberty as having only acted in obedience to Romeo's orders, the Apothecary tortured and hanged, and the Friar allowed to retire to a hermitage near Verona.


How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. < >.


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"In Sophocles, Haemon killed himself at the tomb of Antigone, as does Romeo in the tomb of Juliet; but Sophocles does not show us this scene of love and death; gloomy vaults do not accord with ideas of love and marriage in Greek art. But in Romeo's case, on the contrary, the horror redoubles his ardour; he feels more impassioned, more enthusiastic, more loving, if I may dare to say so, not merely because this is the last time that he will contemplate Juliet's beauties, but because — am I deceived? — these funeral scenes harmonize with the fancy of this lover, the creation of Shakespeare's genius. Note his words; he speaks with neither horror nor disgust -— of what? — of the very worms which are to devour his adored one. Thus did he picture Juliet, and never did he love her more fondly, no! not even when he left her at the first beams of the morning, at the first song of the lark; not even when the dawn shone upon their loving adieux were Romeo's words so burning as in this frightful charnel-house; nature awaking wreathed in smiles from a night of love spoke less impressively to his heart than the aspect of the grave." Saint-Marc Girardin. Read on...

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