Saturday, June 19, 2010

Romeo and Juliet

The balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet" provides the most famous dialogue of the play. The language expresses Juliet's feelings beautifully and makes it clear that she and Romeo are destined to be together. Here are the popular lines:

Juliet:

O 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,
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 word 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 thy name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Juliet asks why Romeo is Romeo. She wants to know why he is her family's enemy. She asks him to go against his father and refuse his name. If he does not, she asks that he swear to be her love and she'll refuse her own name.

Juliet is unaware that Romeo is listening. Romeo wonders if he should continue to listen or speak out. He chooses to keep quiet. Juliet says that only Romeo's name is a barrier to their love. It is not a part of him in the same way that the hand or the foot is a part of the body. She wishes he had another name and exclaims that names are not important. A rose would smell just as sweet if it had another name. Likewise, Romeo would be just as perfect if he had another name. She asks Romeo to remove his name which is no part of him and take all of her.

This scene clearly indicates that Juliet is prepared to go against her family's wishes and give herself to an enemy. For her, the historic rivalry between the Capulets and Montagues is of no importance. She chooses her heart over her mind. It is this decision which leads to the play's tragic ending.

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