Act III - Scene II

Capulet's orchard.

Enter Juliet alone.

Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Towards Phoebus’ lodging! Such a wagoner
As Phaeton would whip you to the west
And bring in cloudy night immediately.
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,(5)
That runaway eyes may wink, and Romeo
Leap to these arms untalk'd of and unseen.
Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
By their own beauties; or, if love be blind,(10)
It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
And learn me how to lose a winning match,
Play'd for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.
Hood my unmann'd blood, bating in my cheeks,(15)
With thy black mantle till strange love, grown bold,
Think true love acted simple modesty.
Come, night; come, Romeo; come, thou day in night;
For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
Whiter than new snow upon a raven's back.(20)
Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-brow'd night;
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night(25)
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
O, I have bought the mansion of a love,
But not possess'd it; and though I am sold,
Not yet enjoy'd. So tedious is this day
As is the night before some festival(30)
To an impatient child that hath new robes
And may not wear them. O, here comes my nurse,
And she brings news; and every tongue that speaks
But Romeo's name speaks heavenly eloquence.

Enter Nurse, with cords.

Now, nurse, what news? What hast thou there? the cords(35)
That Romeo bid thee fetch?
Ay, ay, the cords.

Throws them down.

Ay me! what news? Why dost thou wring thy hands?
Ah, well-a-day! he's dead, he's dead, he's dead!
We are undone, lady, we are undone!(40)
Alack the day! he's gone, he's kill'd, he's dead!
Can heaven be so envious?
Romeo can,
Though heaven cannot. O Romeo, Romeo!
Who ever would have thought it? Romeo!(45)
What devil art thou that dost torment me thus?
This torture should be roar'd in dismal hell.
Hath Romeo slain himself? Say thou but ‘I,’
And that bare vowel ‘I’ shall poison more
Than the death-darting eye of cockatrice.(50)
I am not I, if there be such an ‘I’;
Or those eyes shut that make thee answer ‘I.’
If he be slain, say ‘I’; or if not, ‘no.’
Brief sounds determine of my weal or woe.
I saw the wound, I saw it with mine eyes,(55)
(God save the mark!) here on his manly breast.
A piteous corse, a bloody piteous corse;
Pale, pale as ashes, all bedaub'd in blood,
All in gore-blood. I swounded at the sight.
O, break, my heart! poor bankrout, break at once!(60)
To prison, eyes; ne'er look on liberty!
Vile earth, to earth resign; end motion here,
And thou and Romeo press one heavy bier!
O Tybalt, Tybalt, the best friend I had!
O courteous Tybalt! honest gentleman(65)
That ever I should live to see thee dead!
What storm is this that blows so contrary?
Is Romeo slaught'red, and is Tybalt dead?
My dear-lov'd cousin, and my dearer lord?
Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom!(70)
For who is living, if those two are gone?
Tybalt is gone, and Romeo banished;
Romeo that kill'd him, he is banished.
O God! Did Romeo's hand shed Tybalt's blood?
It did, it did! alas the day, it did!(75)
O serpent heart, hid with a flow'ring face!
Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!
Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-ravening lamb!
Despised substance of divinest show!(80)
Just opposite to what thou justly seem'st—
A damned saint, an honourable villain!
O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell
When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend
In mortal paradise of such sweet flesh?(85)
Was ever book containing such vile matter
So fairly bound? O, that deceit should dwell
In such a gorgeous palace!
There's no trust,
No faith, no honesty in men; all perjur'd,(90)
All forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers.
Ah, where's my man? Give me some aqua vitae.
These griefs, these woes, these sorrows make me old.
Shame come to Romeo!
Blister'd be thy tongue(95)
For such a wish! He was not born to shame.
Upon his brow shame is asham'd to sit;
For 'tis a throne where honour may be crown'd
Sole monarch of the universal earth.
O, what a beast was I to chide at him!(100)
Will you speak well of him that kill'd your cousin?
Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?
Ah, poor my lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name
When I, thy three-hours’ wife, have mangled it?
But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?(105)
That villain cousin would have kill'd my husband.
Back, foolish tears, back to your native spring!
Your tributary drops belong to woe,
Which you, mistaking, offer up to joy.
My husband lives, that Tybalt would have slain;(110)
And Tybalt's dead, that would have slain my husband.
All this is comfort; wherefore weep I then?
Some word there was, worser than Tybalt's death,
That murdered me. I would forget it fain;
But O, it presses to my memory(115)
Like damned guilty deeds to sinners’ minds!
‘Tybalt is dead, and Romeo banished.’
That ‘banished,’ that one word ‘banished,’
Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts. Tybalt's death
Was woe enough, if it had ended there;(120)
Or, if sour woe delights in fellowship
And needly will be rank'd with other griefs,
Why followed not, when she said ‘Tybalt's dead,’
Thy father, or thy mother, nay, or both,
Which modern lamentation might have mov'd?(125)
But with a rearward following Tybalt's death,
‘Romeo is banished’— to speak that word
Is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet,
All slain, all dead. ‘Romeo is banished’—
There is no end, no limit, measure, bound,(130)
In that word's death; no words can that woe sound.
Where is my father and my mother, nurse?
Weeping and wailing over Tybalt's corse.
Will you go to them? I will bring you thither.
Wash they his wounds with tears? Mine shall be spent,(135)
When theirs are dry, for Romeo's banishment.
Take up those cords. Poor ropes, you are beguil'd,
Both you and I, for Romeo is exil'd.
He made you for a highway to my bed;
But I, a maid, die maiden-widowed.(140)
Come, cords; come, Nurse. I'll to my wedding bed;
And death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead!
Hie to your chamber. I'll find Romeo
To comfort you. I wot well where he is.
Hark ye, your Romeo will be here at night.(145)
I'll to him; he is hid at Laurence’ cell.
O, find him! give this ring to my true knight
And bid him come to take his last farewell.



  1. During Shakespeare's time, a woman's duty was to marry and produce children. A daughter's primary duty was to her father until marriage at which point it transferred to her husband. Juliet, a radical female character for her time who chooses to marry outside of her father's consent, uses this speech to weigh her choices. She does not automatically decide that her duty is to Romeo simply because he is her husband; she comes to that decision through reason.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Juliet marks the change from comedy to tragedy in this line. In a comedy, the play ends with a marriage and the "death" of the maidenhead. In a drama, the play ends with the characters' death. Now that Tybalt is dead and Romeo is banished, her wedding night will end with death instead of sex.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Juliet rationalizes Romeo's action by blaming Tybalt. In this way she is able to continue to love Romeo and forgive him for killing her cousin. Juliet's decision to stand by Romeo after Tybalt's death sets up her tragic end to come.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Juliet recalls that the word of Romeo's banishment is worse than word of Tybalt's death. Remember that at the beginning of this scene, Juliet figured herself and Romeo as of one body; she has no self outside of him. Thus, Juliet's metaphors that construed Romeo as two things, evil being hidden in good looks, are now replaced by justifications for Romeo's actions.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. A "dove-feather'd raven" is a black ominous bird, the raven, hidden within the white feathers of a love bird, the dove. A "wolvish-ravening lamb" is a saying that is similar to the modern saying a wolf in sheep's clothing. With all of these paradoxes, Juliet points to the seemingly two-faced nature of her lover: what she believed was his perfect and pure soul was actually a covering for a hideous and malicious interior.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. "Serpent heart" is an allusion to Satan in the Garden of Eden. Satan tricked Eve into eating the apple that got her and Adam banished from Eden by hiding behind an innocent face.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. The Nurse takes up Juliet's language here in order to remove Romeo from the action. "It," Romeo's hand, killed Tybalt; not Romeo.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. Juliet phrases this question in an interesting way. Rather than directly asking if Romeo killed Tybalt, she displaces the action into Romeo's hand. In this way she is able to dissociate Romeo from the action and continue seeing him as her pure and perfect lover.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. Notice that the Nurse again delays the information by inserting herself into the narrative. While before she was teasing impatient Juliet about her marriage, here her delay indicates the unspeakable nature of what has happened. Notice how tropes of the comedy are repeated and changed now that they exist within a tragic context.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Juliet foreshadows her reaction to Romeo's eventual death. Without him, she cannot be herself or anyone else. Juliet's identity has become inextricably linked to Romeo's identity. Here, Juliet inadvertently offers the audience an explanation for her coming suicide.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. This is another name for the mythological creature the basilisk. Anyone who looks a basilisk directly in the eyes turns into stone. In this metaphor, Juliet claims that the Nurse's confirmation of Romeo's death would be able to kill faster than the basilisk's stare.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. "Envious" in this context means angry or full of ill-will. However, it also invokes the other meaning of envious, to be full of jealousy. Juliet believes that the Nurse is talking about Romeo being dead and that he was taken by death because heaven was jealous of their love or full of malice.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. "Hood" is a falconry maneuver used to tame wild birds. "Baiting" is when frightened birds flap their wings in response to being restrained to a perch. A falconer will "hood" a bird to calm it down. Juliet uses this falconry metaphor in order to show that she is both nervous and excited about her wedding night.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. Juliet plays with this paradox in order to assert that she will lose her virginity this night. In losing her virginity she wins something else, a long life with her love. Juliet does not yet know that in the previous scene death and tragedy have entered into her story. This monologue returns to the world of comedy that revolves around marriage instead of death.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. Here, "curtain" refers to the cloak of night and the curtain that encircled a bed to block out light and prying eyes. Curtain in this sense invokes both secrecy and the marriage bed. In this way, Juliet marks the night as a place in which her love with Romeo will manifest and be allowed to exist.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  16. Phaeton was Phoebus's son who was allowed to drive the chariot carrying the sun when he requested proof of his father's power. However, Phaeton cannot control the horses, and Zeus strikes him down in order to protect the Earth from the sun.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  17. Phoebus was another name for the Apollo, the God of the sun. The steeds Juliet references are those that pull Apollo's chariot, which carried the sun. Juliet uses this allusion to ask for the night to come faster.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  18. Refers to the trumpet of the Last Judgment in the Book of Revelation. 

    — Jamie Wheeler