The Balcony Scene
Romeo visits the Capulet mansion at night. While hiding in the garden, he sees Juliet on a balcony and overhears her declare that she loves him. Romeo makes his presence known and the two discuss their love. Juliet agrees to marry Romeo if his intentions are honourable. Romeo assures her that is in honourable.
Romeo visits the Capulet mansion at night.
How does he express his love for Juliet?
- Romeo makes idealistic and flowery comparisons between Juliet and nature. He speaks in beautiful words and poetry to express his love.
Similes and metaphors reveal the idealistic nature of Romeo’s love
- Dramatic irony is evident because she is positioned on the balcony above but he is not at first aware of her.
This enables Romeo to profess his love in an uninhibited way, so that he appears more spontaneous, genuine and natural. This is one of the themes – the spontaneity of their love that transgresses boundaries.
- Romeo looks up to Juliet the same way he looks up to heaven. He compares Juliet with the sun.
“Rise up, beautiful sun and make the jealous moon invisible.” He wonders at her beauty. She is like the “mighty, holy and dazzling sun.”
He compares her to stars and daylight – the original is so much more powerful than the copy as a lamp.
He claims that her beauty is brighter than the twinkling stars.
- There are also sexual innuendos, as the maids can be compared to Diana’s maid servants and the uniforms as that covering their virginity. Their green pale sickliness is a sign of their virginity, innocence and naivety. He wishes that he were a glove on her hand that could touch her cheek. (figurative language and hyperbole dominates his profession of love).
While hiding in the garden, he sees Juliet on a balcony and overhears her declare that she loves him.
How do we know that she is ignorant of Romeo’s presence?
What does Juliet regret about Romeo?
- We discover that the love struck Juliet is in love with Romeo. (Juliet is shocked and embarrassed that Romeo has been eavesdropping.)
Juliet talks about her love but is ignorant of Romeo’s presence. This is evident because she talks freely and openly about her love.
- She considers the practical problems evident in the choice of a name. Explain the analogy with the rose and how it reflects her attitude to the name. For example, she regrets that he is a Montague. This name is an enemy to her family. She asks, “What’s in a name”. In their case, it determines social relationships and can be prohibitive.
- She claims that a name does not sum up a man’s character. She mourns that their names make them enemies.
- She shows remarkable maturity for a young girl; if the other characters also displayed such maturity and foresight then the violence and prejudice between the families would subside. Shakespeare suggests that discrimination and prejudice could be settled if people accepted others in a genuine and heartfelt way and looked beyond appearances and labels. (Also consider the fact that Shakespeare affords her the right of reply in sonnets, which is unusual in other typical 16th century sonnets.)
Their conversation shows their different personalities.
1) Juliet asks short and practical questions.
2) Romeo gives idealistic and flowery, descriptive replies.
- Juliet expresses her love in short and practical responses. She is worried that Romeo may have placed himself in danger. “If they see you they’ll murder you”. The danger also adds to the romance. Romeo says that he would go through any danger to reach her. He exaggerates. He flatters her with his descriptions of danger and hardship. He already has climbed the stony walls. He would also risk a voyage to “the most distant land on the most distant sea” to find her.
- She shows a lot of common sense. She wants to avoid and say “goodbye to proprieties” (good and proper behaviour, to play by the rules) She wants Romeo to be direct and honest. “Oh gentle Romeo, if you love me, honestly admit it.” She explains that her feelings are truthful and honest (sincere). “I’ll be truer than those who act more clever and pretend coolness.” She offers to be more shy and timid if he prefers her to be. She also loves him too much to play silly games. “If you think I am too quickly won by you, I’ll frown and be grouchy and say ‘no’”
- She asks him if he loves her and he swears “By the moon” that he does: Juliet says “but the moon is too changeable.”
- Juliet wishes that their love is not so sudden but she wants to do the right and honourable thing. She regrets that their love is too much “like the lightening”. But she is sure that it will ripen into a beautiful flower. She wants their love to remain constant.
She says she is honest and faithful and sincere. “ I will”.
- Romeo wants Juliet to declare her love and she does it more passionately. She says her love is as “broad as the sea and just as deep”. She tells Romeo that if his love is honourable and he wants to marry her he should say when they are going to marry. He promises her that he will arrange the wedding by 9am morning. They wish to consummate their love.