Act IV - Scene I

Friar Laurence's cell.

Enter Friar Laurence and County Paris.

FRIAR:
On Thursday, sir? The time is very short.
PAR:
My father Capulet will have it so,
And I am nothing slow to slack his haste.
FRIAR:
You say you do not know the lady's mind.
Uneven is the course; I like it not.(5)
PAR:
Immoderately she weeps for Tybalt's death,
And therefore have I little talk'd of love;
For Venus smiles not in a house of tears.
Now, sir, her father counts it dangerous
That she do give her sorrow so much sway,(10)
And in his wisdom hastes our marriage
To stop the inundation of her tears,
Which, too much minded by herself alone,
May be put from her by society.
Now do you know the reason of this haste.(15)
FRIAR:

Aside.

I would I knew not why it should be slow'd.
Look, sir, here comes the lady toward my cell.

Enter Juliet.

PAR:
Happily met, my lady and my wife!
JUL:
That may be, sir, when I may be a wife.
PAR:
That may be must be, love, on Thursday next.(20)
JUL:
What must be shall be.
FRIAR:
That's a certain text.
PAR:
Come you to make confession to this father?
JUL:
To answer that, I should confess to you.
PAR:
Do not deny to him that you love me.(25)
JUL:
I will confess to you that I love him.
PAR:
So will ye, I am sure, that you love me.
JUL:
If I do so, it will be of more price,
Being spoke behind your back, than to your face.
PAR:
Poor soul, thy face is much abus'd with tears.(30)
JUL:
The tears have got small victory by that,
For it was bad enough before their spite.
PAR:
Thou wrong'st it more than tears with that report.
JUL:
That is no slander, sir, which is a truth;
And what I spake, I spake it to my face.(35)
PAR:
Thy face is mine, and thou hast sland'red it.
JUL:
It may be so, for it is not mine own.
Are you at leisure, holy father, now,
Or shall I come to you at evening mass?
FRIAR:
My leisure serves me, pensive daughter, now.(40)
My lord, we must entreat the time alone.
PAR:
God shield I should disturb devotion!
Juliet, on Thursday early will I rouse ye.
Till then, adieu, and keep this holy kiss.

Exit.

JUL:
O, shut the door! and when thou hast done so,(45)
Come weep with me—past hope, past cure, past help!
FRIAR:
Ah, Juliet, I already know thy grief;
It strains me past the compass of my wits.
I hear thou must, and nothing may prorogue it,
On Thursday next be married to this County.(50)
JUL:
Tell me not, friar, that thou hear'st of this,
Unless thou tell me how I may prevent it.
If in thy wisdom thou canst give no help,
Do thou but call my resolution wise
And with this knife I'll help it presently.(55)
God join'd my heart and Romeo's, thou our hands;
And ere this hand, by thee to Romeo seal'd,
Shall be the label to another deed,
Or my true heart with treacherous revolt
Turn to another, this shall slay them both.(60)
Therefore, out of thy long-experienc'd time,
Give me some present counsel; or, behold,
'Twixt my extremes and me this bloody knife
Shall play the umpire, arbitrating that
Which the commission of thy years and art(65)
Could to no issue of true honour bring.
Be not so long to speak. I long to die
If what thou speak'st speak not of remedy.
FRIAR:
Hold, daughter. I do spy a kind of hope,
Which craves as desperate an execution(70)
As that is desperate which we would prevent.
If, rather than to marry County Paris,
Thou hast the strength of will to slay thyself,
Then is it likely thou wilt undertake
A thing like death to chide away this shame,(75)
That cop’st with death himself to scape from it;
And, if thou dar'st, I'll give thee remedy.
JUL:
O, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris,
From off the battlements of yonder tower,
Or walk in thievish ways, or bid me lurk(80)
Where serpents are; chain me with roaring bears,
Or shut me nightly in a charnel house,
O'ercover'd quite with dead men's rattling bones,
With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls;
Or bid me go into a new-made grave(85)
And hide me with a dead man in his shroud —
Things that, to hear them told, have made me tremble —
And I will do it without fear or doubt,
To live an unstain'd wife to my sweet love.
FRIAR:
Hold, then. Go home, be merry, give consent(90)
To marry Paris. Wednesday is to-morrow.
To-morrow night look that thou lie alone;
Let not the nurse lie with thee in thy chamber.
Take thou this vial, being then in bed,
And this distilled liquor drink thou off;(95)
When presently through all thy veins shall run
A cold and drowsy humour; for no pulse
Shall keep his native progress, but surcease;
No warmth, no breath, shall testify thou liv'st;
The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade(100)
To paly ashes, thy eyes’ windows fall
Like death when he shuts up the day of life;
Each part, depriv'd of supple government,
Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death;
And in this borrowed likeness of shrunk death(105)
Thou shalt continue two-and-forty hours,
And then awake as from a pleasant sleep.
Now, when the bridegroom in the morning comes
To rouse thee from thy bed, there art thou dead.
Then, as the manner of our country is,(110)
In thy best robes uncovered on the bier
Thou shalt be borne to that same ancient vault
Where all the kindred of the Capulets lie.
In the mean time, against thou shalt awake,
Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift;(115)
And hither shall he come; and he and I
Will watch thy waking, and that very night
Shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua.
And this shall free thee from this present shame,
If no inconstant toy nor womanish fear(120)
Abate thy valour in the acting it.
JUL:
Give me, give me! O, tell not me of fear!
FRIAR:
Hold! Get you gone, be strong and prosperous
In this resolve. I'll send a friar with speed
To Mantua, with my letters to thy lord.(125)
JUL:
Love give me strength! and strength shall help afford.
Farewell, dear father.

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. The theory of the four humors was a medieval and Early Modern medical understanding of the human body. It proposed that one's emotions, ailments, and personality were controlled by four "humors" - blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm - and an excess or lack of any one would cause extreme moods or disease. The Priest references this theory in order to offer an explanation how this potion will make Juliet appear to be dead.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. "Unstained" in this context means pure. We know that Juliet has already lost her virginity in this play, thus "purity" no longer means virginal but faithful. As long as no one else possesses her, she remains "unstained." However, this understanding of purity ironically makes Juliet into an object: in order to remain pure, she must remain Romeo's possession.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. "This" meaning the knife. If Juliet takes her life with this knife, it will slay both her hand and her heart and she will not have to worry about getting married again.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Juliet declares that her hand cannot "label another deed," meaning commit to another marriage, because Romeo has already taken her hand. With this metaphor, Juliet dissociates the action from herself: she is not getting married, her hand is committing the deed.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Juliet threatens to kill herself if the Friar cannot fix her situation. This threat is ominous because the audience knows that by the end of the play Juliet will have killed herself. Her repeated assertion that she is going to kill herself over her grief and loss demonstrates Juliet's anguish and melancholy.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. Juliet covertly asserts that her face belongs to Romeo in her response to Paris. Notice how Juliet crafts her responses so that they are evasive instead of ever directly contradicting or affirming any of Paris's claims.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. Here Paris claims her face, and by extension her. Like her father, Paris continues using language that figures Juliet as a possession.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. By this "it" Juliet refers to her face. She says that even before Tybalt was killed by the spite between the Capulets and Montagues, Juliet's face was "bad enough."

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. The Friar is referencing his knowledge of Romeo and Juliet's marriage. Juliet cannot marry Paris because she is already married to Romeo.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Paris, like the Capulets, seems to think that Juliet is too sad over her cousin's murder. It is unclear whether or not this is his opinion or he is simply parroting what Capulet already said to him, but again this sentiments shows that values are backwards in this play. The feud has made death meaningless.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff