Act I - Scene III

Capulet's House.

Enter Lady Capulet, and Nurse.

Nurse, where's my daughter? Call her forth to me.
Now, by my maidenhead at twelve year old, I bade
her come. What, lamb! what ladybird! God forbid!
Where's this girl? What, Juliet!

Enter Juliet.

How now? Who calls?(5)
Your mother.
Madam, I am here.
What is your will?
This is the matter—Nurse, give leave awhile,
We must talk in secret. Nurse, come back again;(10)
I have remember'd me, thou shalt hear our counsel.
Thou knowest my daughter's of a pretty age.
Faith, I can tell her age unto an hour.
She's not fourteen.
I'll lay fourteen of my teeth—(15)
And yet, to my teen be it spoken, I have but four—
She is not fourteen. How long is it now
To Lammastide?
A fortnight and odd days.
Even or odd, of all days in the year,(20)
Come Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen.
Susan and she (God rest all Christian souls!)
Were of an age. Well, Susan is with God;
She was too good for me. But, as I said,
On Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen;(25)
That shall she, marry; I remember it well.
'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years;
And she was wean'd (I never shall forget it),
Of all the days of the year, upon that day;
For I had then laid wormwood to my dug,(30)
Sitting in the sun under the dovehouse wall.
My lord and you were then at Mantua.
Nay, I do bear a brain. But, as I said,
When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple
Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool,(35)
To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug!
Shake, quoth the dovehouse! 'Twas no need, I trow,
To bid me trudge.
And since that time it is eleven years,
For then she could stand high-lone; nay, by th’ rood,(40)
She could have run and waddled all about;
For even the day before, she broke her brow;
And then my husband (God be with his soul!
A’ was a merry man) took up the child.
‘Yea,’ quoth he, ‘dost thou fall upon thy face?(45)
Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit;
Wilt thou not, Jule?’ and, by my holidame,
The pretty wretch left crying, and said ‘Ay.’
To see now how a jest shall come about!
I warrant, an I should live a thousand years,(50)
I never should forget it. ‘Wilt thou not, Jule?’ quoth he,
And, pretty fool, it stinted, and said ‘Ay.’
Enough of this. I pray thee hold thy peace.
Yes, madam. Yet I cannot choose but laugh
To think it should leave crying and say ‘Ay.’(55)
And yet, I warrant, it had upon it brow
A bump as big as a young cock'rel's stone;
A perilous knock; and it cried bitterly.
Yea,’ quoth my husband, ‘fall'st upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou comest to age;(60)
Wilt thou not, Jule?’ It stinted, and said ‘Ay.’
And stint thou too, I pray thee, nurse, say I.
Peace, I have done. God mark thee to his grace!
Thou wast the prettiest babe that e'er I nurs'd.
An I might live to see thee married once,(65)
I have my wish.
Marry, that ‘marry’ is the very theme
I came to talk of. Tell me, daughter Juliet,
How stands your disposition to be married?
It is an honour that I dream not of.(70)
An honour? Were not I thine only nurse,
I would say thou hadst suck'd wisdom from thy teat.
Well, think of marriage now. Younger than you,
Here in Verona, ladies of esteem,
Are made already mothers. By my count,(75)
I was your mother much upon these years
That you are now a maid. Thus then in brief:
The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.
A man, young lady! lady, such a man
As all the world- why he's a man of wax.(80)
Verona's summer hath not such a flower.
Nay, he's a flower, in faith—a very flower.
What say you? Can you love the gentleman?
This night you shall behold him at our feast.
Read o'er the volume of young Paris’ face,(85)
And find delight writ there with beauty's pen;
Examine every married lineament,
And see how one another lends content;
And what obscur'd in this fair volume lies
Find written in the margent of his eyes,(90)
This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him only lacks a cover.
The fish lives in the sea, and 'tis much pride
For fair without the fair within to hide.
That book in many's eyes doth share the glory,(95)
That in gold clasps locks in the golden story;
So shall you share all that he doth possess,
By having him making yourself no less.
No less? Nay, bigger! Women grow by men.
Speak briefly, can you like of Paris’ love?(100)
I'll look to like, if looking liking move;
But no more deep will I endart mine eye
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.

Enter Servingman.

Madam, the guests are come, supper serv'd up, you
call'd, my young lady ask'd for, the nurse curs'd in the(105)
pantry, and everything in extremity. I must hence to
wait. I beseech you follow straight.
We follow thee.

Exit Servingman.

Juliet, the County stays.
Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days.(110)



  1. Lady Capulet uses this extended metaphor comparing Paris to a book in order to convince her daughter that he is a worthy man. In this metaphor, Juliet is the gold clasps that makes Paris the perfect golden story. Lady Capulet draws on the same ideas of art and theater that were presented in the Prologue in order to convince her daughter to marry. Just as the theater needs an audience in order to make sense, a good book (or man) needs a reader (or woman) to bring it to life. This theme of witnesses affecting story telling reoccurs in different ways throughout the play.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. By this the Nurse means that women become pregnant by men and then grow large with the baby. While Lady Capulet uses an elaborate metaphor to speak to Juliet's romantic notions, the Nurse's comments are grounded in a physical and biological understanding of marriage.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Lady Capulet echoes what Paris said to Juliet's father in the previous scene and uses herself as an example of a young marriage. Notice that both Lady Capulet and Paris use the example of unnamed "other women" as models of behavior in order to convince Juliet that she should get married. Only the Nurse appeals to Juliet's feelings rather than offering other women's experiences to shape her decisions.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. In this time period "stint" meant to stop or cease action. Notice that the Nurse does not stop telling the story when Lady Capulet asks her to stop talking but does listen to Juliet. This demonstrates the close relationship between the Nurse and Juliet. While Lady Capulet coldly tells her to stop talking, Juliet entreats her to end her tale with the loving affection of a daughter to a mother. This is another place in which familial relations are figured in an odd way. At the beginning family causes bloodshed and brawls, and here familial allegiance is outside of blood.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Here the Nurse tells a story from Juliet's childhood. She begins by displacing Lady and Lord Capulet to Mantua and placing Juliet in a homey space with her and her husband. The Nurse narrates Juliet's childhood as if Juliet were her child. This speech could be read as a sweet way in which the Nurse shows her long history with Juliet or the way she asserts her motherly claim to Juliet over Lady Capulet.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. It is never explained who Susan is, though the context suggests that she was the Nurse's daughter. Often, rich women would hire wet nurses to nurse their babies so that they did not have to breast feed. If the Nurse were Juliet's wet nurse then it would make sense that she had a daughter at the same time Juliet was born. If the Nurse did lose her daughter, it would explain why acting like Juliet's mother was so important to her.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. Lammas Day is the festival of wheat harvest that occurs on the first of August. Juliet's birthday is July 31st, or Lammas Eve. The Nurse is asking how long until Juliet's birthday to find out how old she is. This could be a rhetorical device used to tell the audience that Juliet will be fourteen in two weeks. Notice how much importance the adults in this play place on Juliet's exact age. It has now been the topic of two conversations in the first three scenes of the play.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. The Nurse asserts her knowledge of and close relationship with Juliet. Most wealthy women would give birth then give their child to a nurse or governess to raise. The Nurse has acted as Juliet more than Juliet's mother; however, as her mother, Lady Capulet still has power and control over Juliet's life. Notice how the Nurse asserts her importance and closeness with Juliet throughout this scene.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. In this context "pretty age" means marrying age. This view of Juliet's age directly contradicts what her father said in the previous scene. Juliet's mother seems to think that Juliet is ready for marriage. However, this assertion occurs in lines in which Lady Capulet cannot even talk to her daughter without the presence of the nurse. This suggests that Lady Capulet does not actually know her daughter or her daughter's wishes.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff