This scene is in fact the last time that Romeo and Juliet meet and talk. It is an important scene, which highlights a number of key issues and themes in the play.
The scene begins at dawn on Tuesday morning in Juliet’s bedroom after the nuptial night. The lovers are having a playful argument about whether or not it is dawn, and time for Romeo to flee to Mantua.
The Montague and Capulet battles were getting out of hand and the Prince of Verona, Escalus, stated that if there were another brawl between the two households the punishment would be the execution of either Montague or Capulet. Tybalt, a Capulet, murdered Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend; therefore Romeo was extremely angry and sought revenge. He chased after Tybalt and gained his revenge by killing him. Prince Escalus hears of this news and instead of sentencing a Montague to death he banishes Romeo to Mantua.
The language used in the conversation, between Romeo and Juliet, is very romantic, for instance when Juliet says ‘It is not yet near day. It was the nightingale, and not the lark…’ This shows that Juliet does not want Romeo to leave and she is trying to persuade him that it is still night and not dawn because Romeo should be in Mantua before dawn. ‘Let me be ta’en, let me be put to death…’ This quote illustrates how much Romeo loves Juliet. This quote is also extremely ironic because we know that later on in the play Romeo does die because of his love for Juliet. Romeo says that he would rather be dead than have to leave Juliet and flee to Mantua. It is ironic that Romeo jokes ‘come death and welcome’ as if he is prepared to die for love. We, the audience, realise that this is exactly what fate leads him to. It is his love for Juliet that eventually leads to this tragedy.
Another example of the romantic language used is when Romeo says ‘More light and light, more dark and dark our woes.’ This quote, said by Romeo, shows that the lighter the day gets the darker his and Juliet’s lives will be because they are apart.
A point to note is that there is a continuous light-dark imagery throughout the conversation between Romeo and Juliet. An example of this is, ‘Yon light is not daylight… And light thee on thy way to Mantua.’ This is continued to the end of the conversation where it ends with ‘More light and light, more dark and dark our woes.’ It is interesting to make the point that, in this case, the light happens to be bad and the dark good because the dark means Romeo can stay with Juliet and the light, on the other hand, means that Romeo has to leave.
The Elizabethans were firm believers in fate and destiny. Juliet goes on to say that fate is fickle, which is changeable and untrustworthy. The wheel of fortune plays a role in the play, it means that at one moment you might be the happiest person alive and then all of a sudden be at the lowest point of your life.
Lady Capulet then enters the room and observes Juliet weeping. Lady Capulet thinks that these tears are for the death of her cousin, Tybalt. This dialogue between the two is ambiguous in many ways. Juliet is actually weeping over the fact that Romeo has been banished. Lady Capulet describes Romeo as a ‘villain’ and then Juliet says, aside, to herself ‘…God pardon him; I do with all my heart; …’
Juliet then agrees with her mother but secretly she doesn’t. A example of this ambiguity is ‘ Indeed I never shall be satisfied with Romeo, till I behold him-dead-is my poor heart so for a kinsman vexed’ Lady Capulet takes Juliet to mean: ‘I never shall be satisfied with Romeo till I behold him dead. My poor heart is vexed for a kinsman (Tybalt).’ What she actually means is: ‘I never shall be satisfied with Romeo till I behold him. My poor heart is so vexed for a kinsman (Romeo) that is dead.’ Of course Romeo is now a kinsman to the Capulet’s because he married Juliet but Lady Capulet doesn’t know this so she doesn’t suspect that Juliet can be meaning something else. In the original quote there is a hyphen, which signifies a pause. This pause is quite important because it shows the reader that Juliet is talking about Romeo. She says ‘I never shall be satisfied with Romeo till I behold him (pause) dead…’
The theme of violence, revenge and hatred of the opposing families runs throughout the entire play but in this case Lady Capulet is taking it to another level. She doesn’t just hate Romeo she despises him and the rest of the Montagues. She despises him so much that she wants to hire somebody to slaughter him. She says to Juliet ‘Find thou the means, and I’ll find such a man (To kill him)…’
At this stage it is the older, supposedly more experienced characters that are keeping the hostility alive. Romeo and Juliet are the ones that are trying to put the past behind them and to live happily.
Juliet’s reaction to the proposed marriage to Paris is negative. She rebels against her parents and refuses to marry Paris. At the beginning of the play, Juliet’s views on marriage are quite the opposite. At the ball she is looking at all the men and seeing which of them would make a fit husband.
Juliet is unhappy about the wedding because it is to be held at the same place as she married Romeo. She can’t remarry there because she is married to Romeo and the Elizabethans view on the holiness of marriage vows was very strong. They believed that the consequence of breaking those vows would be that you would go to hell and your soul would be cursed.
Capulet was extremely angry when he found out that Juliet had refused to marry Paris. He got progressively more and more angry. He was so angry that he threatened to disown Juliet if she didn’t marry Paris. Juliet still refused and sought comfort from her mother but received nothing.
In the Elizabethan era the male head of the household was a domineering leader. His word was taken without question. There was a very rigid social hierarchy. Women didn’t really carry much status in society.
Capulet wanted Juliet to marry Paris because he was kinsman to Prince Escalus and therefore had power and money.
Capulet can be a very violent man. An example of this is when he is shouting at Juliet when she refuses to marry Paris. ‘Out you green-sickness carrion, out you baggage, you tallow face!’
When Capulet tells the nurse ‘peace you mumbling fool…’ he is correct because earlier on before actually speaking to Capulet she says ‘God in heaven bless her.’ She was mumbling to herself and God so therefore Capulet is correct.
Capulet threatens to disown and throw Juliet out if she defies him. ‘Hang thee young baggage disobedient wretch! I tell thee what, get thee to the church on Thursday, or never after look me in the face’
The nurse advises Juliet to forget about Romeo and to marry Paris as her parents wish. Juliet says that she accepts the advice but after the nurse has gone expresses her true feelings about the nurse’s treachery.
Overall I found that Romeo and Juliet was an excellent play, which was written with deep emotion. During the play you experience many different feelings of hatred, love and sadness. It’s a thrilling story that captures the reader’s thoughts and shows how sometimes children can be more mature than adults.