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Quotes in Romeo and Juliet

Quotes Examples in Romeo and Juliet:

The Prologue

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"From forth the fatal loins of these two foes(5) A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life; Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows Doth, with their death, bury their parents’ strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love, And the continuance of their parents’ rage,(10) Which, but their children's end, naught could remove, Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage; The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend...."   (The Prologue)

Notice that this play begins with a sonnet that unveils the entire plot of the story. The use of the sonnet here draws our attention to the form, or construction, of the words Shakespeare uses. This literary device coupled with the choice to begin the story with a spoiler suggests that the purpose of this play is not the plot but the way in which the plot is constructed. This prologue asks the audience to pay attention to form.

"My only love, sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me That I must love a loathed enemy...."   (Act I - Scene V)

Juliet touches on one of the play's major themes with these famous lines. She has fallen in love with Romeo without knowing that he is a Montague. What he is, a Montague, proceeds who he is. Much like the play which is defined as a tragedy before it even begins, Romeo is defined as a Montague before Juliet even meets him. Thus her love, though pure when it began becomes prodigious, or unnatural and monstrous, because of Romeo's predetermined identity.

"I have seen the day(20) That I have worn a visor and could tell A whispering tale in a fair lady's ear, Such as would please. 'Tis gone, 'tis gone, 'tis gone! You are welcome, gentlemen! Come, musicians, play. A hall, a hall! give room! and foot it, girls. Music plays, and they dance. (25) More light, you knaves! and turn the tables up, And quench the fire, the room is grown too hot. Ah, sirrah, this unlook'd-for sport comes well. Nay, sit, nay, sit, good cousin Capulet, For you and I are past our dancing days...."   (Act I - Scene V)

Capulet reflects on his own youth when he would have been able to wear a mask and charm a young lady. This statement becomes ironic as this is exactly what will happen to his own daughter at this party. This reminiscing also comes across as haunting after the Prologue to this play. While Capulet can reflect on his youth because he has grown old, Romeo and Juliet will never be able to do so; in dying for their love and their parent's strife, they will forever be preserved in their dancing days.

"A thousand times good night!..."   (Act II - Scene II)

There is a comedic element to this line because Juliet's "thousand times goodnight" is not actually good night, she will return to the stage to make sure that Romeo will meet her in the morning. For all of her stoic instruction and rational contemplation of the meaning of names, her inability to say good night once demonstrates Juliet's simultaneous excitement about her love and worry that her love is not genuine. This first farewell has become one of the most famous lines of this play.

"Parting is such sweet sorrow,..."   (Act II - Scene II)

"Sweet sorrow" is an oxymoron that encompasses Romeo and Juliet's relationship which is composed of ecstatic love and complicated sorrow over their family's rivalry. This line may also underscore the relationship the audience has to this play. It is at once one of the greatest examples of pure, young love, but also one of the best known tragedies in the Western canon. It is both a sweet tale of love and a bleak tale of loss and sorrow. Juliet characterizes the bitter sweet nature of her tragic love in one of the most iconic lines in this play.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose(45) By any other name would smell as sweet...."   (Act II - Scene II)

Ironically in this line and the ones that follow, Juliet claims that names are superficial and unimportant in order to emphasize that Romeo can shed his name. The fixation on Romeo's name coupled with this dismissal of a name's importance demonstrates Juliet's conflict: while the name is unimportant to Juliet, it is everything to the society in which she lives.

"O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?..."   (Act II - Scene II)

"Wherefore" means why, as in Why are you Romeo? Notice that Juliet asks Romeo to forsake his name but only states his first name, not the title, Montague, that is so problematic. This is an example of apostrophe, a type of dramatic speech in which a character speaks to an inanimate object or person who is absent. Juliet does not know that Romeo can hear her.

"But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!..."   (Act II - Scene II)

Romeo stands below Juliet's window and notices a light go on inside. He reacts by constructing an extended metaphor that compares Juliet to the sun. In the original copy of this play there is no stage direction that marks when Juliet enters the stage. So it is unclear whether or not Shakespeare originally intended Romeo to respond to her presence or the light in the room.

" if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am done; for thou hast more of the wild goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five. ..."   (Act II - Scene IV)

Mercutio compares the rapid fire banter he has just shared with Romeo to a "wild-goose chase." This was a game in which a horseman would perform complicated maneuvers in rapid succession, much like the verbal tumbling tricks within the banter of these lines. The game was named after the erratic flight patterns of wild geese who blindly follow a single leader. While the phrase has come to mean the pursuit of an impossible or illusory goal, Mercutio uses the phrase to refer to the task's difficulty and rapidity here. Mercutio's lines are our first record of this now common colloquial phrase, though its presence in this play suggests that the game it refers to or its function as a colloquial phrase predated Shakespeare's writing it down.

"O, I am fortune's fool!..."   (Act III - Scene I)

Fortune was a medieval and Early Modern concept that explained sudden reversals in luck on all levels of society, such as loss of money or fatal sickness. Here, Romeo invokes this common image in order to show that he is a victim of the indifferent Lady Fortune and that his bright future has suddenly disappeared. However, "fool" also suggests that Romeo recognizes that his future was taken from him because he allowed himself to be tricked by Fortune.

"A plague o’ both your houses..."   (Act III - Scene I)

This is the first time that Mercutio utters this curse on the Montagues and Capulets. In Shakespeare's time it was believed that curses had to be said three times in order to be serious. The first was a joke, the second was angry, and the third laid the curse. Notice that as the curse is repeated it becomes more real; the progression of the curse underscores the growing severity of Mercutio's wound until he finally dies. Having Mercutio, the play's main comedic character, die slowly rather than instantly allows his death to symbolize the play's transition from comedy to drama: just as the curse goes from a joke to a malediction, so does the play go from a romance to a tragedy.

" Yea, noise? Then I'll be brief. O happy dagger! Snatches Romeo's dagger. This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die...."   (Act V - Scene III)

Juliet's famous dying lines represent the final transformation and bring about the tragic ending. The "happy dagger" finds a new "sheath" in Juliet's body. Some critics have seen this as an erotic suicide in which the dagger replaces Romeo in her heart. Much like previous metaphors in which Juliet likened her marriage bed to a grave, this suicide literalizes the presence of death within her love.

"O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die...."   (Act V - Scene III)

By "true apothecary" Romeo means that the poison he bought in the previous scene is just as potent and deadly as the apothecary promised. Romeo's dying words underscore the theme of telling and believing within this play. Just as Romeo is surprised that the apothecary held true to his word that the poison would kill him instantly, the audience may feel sadness that "with a kiss" Romeo dies despite being told by the Prologue at the beginning that this would happen.

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