Act I - Scene II

A Street.

Enter Capulet, Paris, and Servant.

CAP:
But Montague is bound as well as I,
In penalty alike; and 'tis not hard, I think,
For men so old as we to keep the peace.
PAR:
Of honourable reckoning are you both,
And pity 'tis you liv'd at odds so long.(5)
But now, my lord, what say you to my suit?
CAP:
But saying o'er what I have said before:
My child is yet a stranger in the world,
She hath not seen the change of fourteen years;
Let two more summers wither in their pride(10)
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.
PAR:
Younger than she are happy mothers made.
CAP:
And too soon marr'd are those so early made.
The earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she;
She is the hopeful lady of my earth.(15)
But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart;
My will to her consent is but a part.
An she agree, within her scope of choice
Lies my consent and fair according voice.
This night I hold an old accustom'd feast,(20)
Whereto I have invited many a guest,
Such as I love; and you among the store,
One more, most welcome, makes my number more.
At my poor house look to behold this night
Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light.(25)
Such comfort as do lusty young men feel
When well-apparell'd April on the heel
Of limping Winter treads, even such delight
Among fresh female buds shall you this night
Inherit at my house. Hear all, all see,(30)
And like her most whose merit most shall be;
Which, amongst view of many, mine, being one,
May stand in number, though in reck'ning none.
Come, go with me.

To Servant, giving him a paper

Go, sirrah, trudge about(35)
Through fair Verona; find those persons out
Whose names are written there, and to them say,
My house and welcome on their pleasure stay.—

Exeunt Capulet and Paris.

SERV:
Find them out whose names are written here?
It is written that the shoemaker should meddle with his(40)
yard and the tailor with his last, the fisher with his
pencil, and the painter with his nets; but I am sent to
find those persons whose names are here writ, and can
never find what names the writing person hath here
writ. I must to the learned. In good time!(45)

Enter Benvolio and Romeo.

BEN:
Tut, man! one fire burns out another's burning;
One pain is lessened by another's anguish;
Turn giddy, and be holp by backward turning;
One desperate grief cures with another's languish.
Take thou some new infection to thy eye,(50)
And the rank poison of the old will die.
ROM:
Your plantain leaf is excellent for that.
BEN:
For what, I pray thee?
ROM:
For your broken shin.
BEN:
Why, Romeo, art thou mad?(55)
ROM:
Not mad, but bound more than a madman is;
Shut up in Prison, kept without my food,
Whipp'd and tormented and–

Spoken to servant

God-eve, good fellow.
SERV:

To Romeo

I pray, sir, can you read?
ROM:
Ay, mine own fortune in my misery.(60)
SERV:
Perhaps you have learned it without book. But I pray,
can you read any thing you see?
ROM:
Ay, If I know the letters and the language.
SERV:
Ye say honestly. Rest you merry!
ROM:
Stay, fellow; I can read.(65)

He reads.

‘Signior Martino and his wife and daughters;
County Anselme and his beauteous sisters;
The lady widow of Vitruvio;
Signior Placentio and his lovely nieces;
Mercutio and his brother Valentine;(70)
Mine uncle Capulet, his wife, and daughters;
My fair niece Rosaline and Livia;
Signior Valentio and his cousin Tybalt;
Lucio and the lively Helena.’

Gives back the paper.

A fair assembly. Whither should they come?(75)
SERV:
Up.
ROM:
Whither to supper?
SERV:
To our house.
ROM:
Whose house?
SERV:
My master's.(80)
ROM:
Indeed, I should have ask'd you that before.
SERV:
Now I'll tell you without asking. My master is the
great rich Capulet; and if you be not of the house of Montagues,
I pray, come and crush a cup of wine. Rest
you merry!(85)

Exit.

BEN:
At this same ancient feast of Capulet's
Sups the fair Rosaline whom thou so lov'st;
With all the admired beauties of Verona.
Go thither, and with unattainted eye
Compare her face with some that I shall show,(90)
And I will make thee think thy swan a crow.
ROM:
When the devout religion of mine eye
Maintains such falsehood, then turn tears to fires.
And these, who often drown'd, could never die,
Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars!(95)
One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun
Ne'er saw her match since first the world begun.
BEN:
Tut! you saw her fair, none else being by,
Herself pois'd with herself in either eye;
But in that crystal scales let there be weigh'd(100)
Your lady's love against some other maid
That I will show you shining at this feast,
And she shall scant show well that now seems best.
ROM:
I'll go along, no such sight to be shown,(105)
But to rejoice in splendour of my own.

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. This is a metaphor that references Romeo's eyes. "Scales" implies judgement based on evidence while Shakespeare used "crystal" and eye interchangeably. Benvolio is asking Romeo to use his eyes for judgement since they are currently blind from his love. This metaphor positions Benvolio as Romeo's more rational friend.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Religious heretics, those who defied or actively spoke out against the Catholic Church, were burned at the stake. Here, Romeo vows that his love for Rosaline is so pure that if he falls in love with another woman, he can be burned at the stake because he will be a heretic. This is ironic as the prologue has already told the audience that Romeo will fall in love with Juliet.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. In this context "stay" means stop. Here Romeo asks the servant to stop his anger. The servant showed frustration when Romeo answered him in poetic riddles and puns rather than giving him a straight answer. Shakespeare juxtaposes two worlds between the servants and the upper classes in this exchange. The servant must accomplish a task while the man of the upper class has time to play with words.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Shakespeare often uses minor servant characters to provide comic relief and poke fun at both upper and lower classes. The servant assigns the wrong tasks to each tradesman (ie. a fisher meddling with a pencil rather than a fishing net) because he cannot read. He has been given a task that is above his abilities because Capulet, a representative of the upper class, overestimated him. This would have been funny to Shakespeare's audiences.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Here Capulet asserts that he cannot order his daughter to consent to marriage and tells Paris that he must first try to woo her. While this suggests that Capulet and his daughter have a good relationship in which Juliet is allowed to determine her own future, this benevolent behavior will be reversed when Juliet denies his wishes. This instead operates as the illusion of choice: if Paris woos her, Juliet will believe that she was able to choose her own husband. Notice that Juliet's feelings or consent is never considered by either man.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. With this statement we learn that Juliet, Capulet's daughter, is only thirteen years old. Even in Shakespeare's time when girls married at a much younger age, Capulet acknowledges that more time needs to pass before he will allow Paris to marry her. He wants to wait until she is fifteen.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff