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ACT III, SCENE V

LINES 1-64

While Lord Capulet is making arrangements for Juliet's marriage to Paris, Juliet is secretly in her bedroom with Romeo. In contrast to the quick, businesslike scene with Paris, the two lovers revel in each other's presence as if life and time were theirs to command. They speak tenderly to each other, and their language is beautiful and mature. We can see that their love has never been deeper.

Romeo says it's near day and he has to leave for Mantua, but Juliet begs him to stay. Overcome with the joy of being with her, Romeo throws caution to the wind. Then Juliet realizes it really is near day, and he really is in danger, and she begs him to go quickly. It seems that even nature is working against them: light and day, which used to be their friend, is now their enemy:

Juliet. O, now be gone! More light and light it grows.

Romeo. More light and light-more dark and dark our woes. (III, v, 35-36)

NOTE:

In the prologue to Act II, time was their friend and helped them meet in secret. But now time, too, is keeping them apart. Juliet says

I must hear from thee every day in the hour For in a minute there are many days.

O, by this count I shall be much in years Ere I again behold my Romeo! (III, v, 44-47)

This also contrasts the lovers' sense of how time can stretch and seem longer, to the condensed time that is catching up with them and starting to crush them. The two days they've known each other have seemed long because so much has happened. But from now on, time is going to rush by, pushing them from one tragedy to another.



As Romeo finally drops to the ground from Juliet's window, she has a terrible feeling of foreboding: she thinks she sees Romeo, not on the ground, but "as one dead in the bottom of a tomb." Romeo says that his grief makes her look the same way to him.

As Romeo leaves, Juliet pleads to Fortune to send him back to her quickly.

LINES 65-126

The Nurse warns Juliet that her mother is coming, and Juliet's startled-it's well before dawn.

When Lady Capulet finds Juliet crying, she assumes Juliet's grief is for Tybalt. She tells her daughter that she's carrying it too far; tears can't bring Tybalt back. The real tragedy, she says, is that Tybalt's murderer is still alive. Lady Capulet's dearest wish is to send someone to Mantua to poison Romeo.

Through their whole conversation, Juliet talks in double meanings. To her mother it sounds like she mourns for Tybalt and hates Romeo; but we know she means just the opposite.

Does her talk, with hidden meaning, show her new maturity and her ability to hide her feelings? Or does she speak childishly and contribute to her own sense of loneliness? In either case, we feel strongly that the lovers are alone against the world.

NOTE:

Throughout the story, plot turnarounds have happened fairly quickly. Romeo turned quickly from loving Rosaline to loving Juliet; the couple's wedding soon turned into horror at the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt. Now events and turnarounds start happening so fast that characters have to make instant decisions and think on their feet.

Lady Capulet says she has happy news for Juliet: she will marry Paris on Thursday. The mother seems genuinely happy for her daughter: Paris is gallant, young and noble-everything her own husband is not.

NOTE:

Was there ever a time when your parents worked hard on a surprise for you-but it was something you didn't want? Do you remember the anger and hurt on both sides? This is part of what's happening here with the Capulets-but the stakes are very high.

Juliet angrily refuses to marry Paris. Why should she marry someone who hasn't even wooed her? She swears by the saints she won't marry anyone, and if she does it will more likely be Romeo, whom her parents hate, than Paris. She ends with an emphatic "These are news indeed!", roughly equivalent to: "So what do you think about that!"

Lady Capulet knows better than to get caught between her daughter's temper and her husband's. She tells Juliet, "Here comes your father. Tell him so yourself / and see how he will take it at your hands."

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