Prologue – Scene.i
The chorus enter and recite a short sonnet celebrating
the new love between Romeo and Juliet, but because of the feud between the families, it will be difficult for them to find the time or place, in order to let their passion develop.
Will the power of their love enable them to overcome the obstacles placed before them?
Romeo decides that he must see Juliet again and climbs the wall surrounding
the Capulet orchard in order that he may obtain a glimpse of Juliet once more.
Benvolio and Mercutio call out for their friend, but they are unable to find
Juliet suddenly appears at the window above where Romeo is standing.
She is unaware that Romeo is in the garden and she asks why Romeo must be a Montague. She says that if he would refuse his name she would give herself to him, or if he would simply swear he loved her she would refuse her Capulet name.
Romeo responds, surprising Juliet who thought she was alone.
She is amazed that he has found her, and concludes that it must be their love that has brought them back together again.
Juliet is concerned for Romeo’s safety, but he says that their love will
Juliet admits that she feels strongly for Romeo.
The nurse interrupts by calling for Juliet who goes inside for a moment.
Juliet reappears and Romeo tells her that his love for her true and that he intends to marry her. The nurse calls again and Juliet withdraws. She then reappears in order to set a time when her messenger can call on him and they agree 9.00 o’clock next day. Juliet finally retires and Romeo departs, seeking a Friar to aid them in their cause.
This is often called the balcony scene, but Shakespeare
never indicates in his stage directions that there is a balcony; just that she appears above Romeo.
This scene contains one of the most famous speeches in the literary world commencing ‘But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? Is it the east, and Juliet is the sun. '''''''.. O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’
This Act is the happiest of the tragedy and Shakespeare indulges in
exploring the positive facets of young love.
He uses beautiful poetry in order to describe the deep love that the young lovers have for each other. Juliet is torn between her desire to be with Romeo, and the need to be cautious. Romeo imagines that Juliet is the sun rising from the east to banish the night. Juliet has removed the sadness in his life and has transformed night into day.
The speech also contains another famous quote, ‘What’s in a name? That
which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet’.
Here Juliet comes to terms with the fact that it is only Romeo’s name that is her enemy and not the man himself, and that they should both give up their names for the sake of the love they have for one another, which is pure. Their names have no relevance in the orchard, their love is triumphant, but unfortunately, this is not the case in the outside society of Verona.
One should also note that the most important scenes in Romeo and Juliet take place either at night or
very early in the morning.
The whole story takes place in just five days, and Shakespeare makes full use of the limited time available. The transition between day and night is a recurring theme throughout the play.