Act V - Scene I

Mantua. A street.

Enter Romeo.

If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep,
My dreams presage some joyful news at hand.
My bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne,
And all this day an unaccustom'd spirit
Lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts.(5)
I dreamt my lady came and found me dead
(Strange dream that gives a dead man leave to think!)
And breath'd such life with kisses in my lips
That I reviv'd and was an emperor.
Ah me! how sweet is love itself possess'd,(10)
When but love's shadows are so rich in joy!

Enter Romeo's man Balthasar, booted.

News from Verona! How now, Balthasar?
Dost thou not bring me letters from the friar?
How doth my lady? Is my father well?
How fares my Juliet? That I ask again,(15)
For nothing can be ill if she be well.
Then she is well, and nothing can be ill.
Her body sleeps in Capels’ monument,
And her immortal part with angels lives.
I saw her laid low in her kindred's vault(20)
And presently took post to tell it you.
O, pardon me for bringing these ill news,
Since you did leave it for my office, sir.
Is it e'en so? Then I defy you, stars!
Thou knowest my lodging. Get me ink and paper(25)
And hire posthorses. I will hence to-night.
I do beseech you, sir, have patience.
Your looks are pale and wild and do import
Some misadventure.
Tush, thou art deceiv'd.(30)
Leave me and do the thing I bid thee do.
Hast thou no letters to me from the friar?
No, my good lord.
No matter. Get thee gone
And hire those horses. I'll be with thee straight.(35)

Exit Balthasar.

Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night.
Let's see for means. O mischief, thou art swift
To enter in the thoughts of desperate men!
I do remember an apothecary,
And hereabouts he dwells, which late I noted(40)
In tatt'red weeds, with overwhelming brows,
Culling of simples. Meagre were his looks,
Sharp misery had worn him to the bones;
And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
An alligator stuff'd, and other skins(45)
Of ill-shaped fishes; and about his shelves
A beggarly account of empty boxes,
Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds,
Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses
Were thinly scattered, to make up a show.(50)
Noting this penury, to myself I said,
‘An if a man did need a poison now
Whose sale is present death in Mantua,
Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.’
O, this same thought did but forerun my need,(55)
And this same needy man must sell it me.
As I remember, this should be the house.
Being holiday, the beggar's shop is shut.
What, ho! apothecary!

Enter Apothecary.

Who calls so loud?(60)
Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor.
Hold, there is forty ducats. Let me have
A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear
As will disperse itself through all the veins
That the life-weary taker may fall dead,(65)
And that the trunk may be discharg'd of breath
As violently as hasty powder fir'd
Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb.
Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law
Is death to any he that utters them.(70)
Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness
And fearest to die? Famine is in thy cheeks,
Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes,
Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back:
The world is not thy friend, nor the world's law;(75)
The world affords no law to make thee rich;
Then be not poor, but break it and take this.
My poverty but not my will consents.
I pay thy poverty and not thy will.
Put this in any liquid thing you will(80)
And drink it off, and if you had the strength
Of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight.
There is thy gold—worse poison to men's souls,
Doing more murderer in this loathsome world,
Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.(85)
I sell thee poison; thou hast sold me none.
Farewell. Buy food and get thyself in flesh.
Come, cordial and not poison, go with me
To Juliet's grave; for there must I use thee.



  1. "Cordial" in this context suggests that the poison is a remedy or medicine. Romeo sees the poison as a remedy because it will relieve him of his sorrow for Juliet's death. This urge shows a direct reversal in Romeo's desires from the beginning of the scene. In the beginning, Juliet rescues Romeo from death; by the end, Romeo resigns himself to death for her.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Romeo's sudden condemnation of money seems out of place in this play as this is the first mention of actual money in a play about love and blood feuds. Since the Apothecary claimed that anyone selling the poison would be killed, Romeo may be rhetorically relieving the Apothecary of this action: Romeo sold the poison instead of the man.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Notice how Shakespeare creates a setting using Romeo's dialogue. In Shakespeare's theater, there were few to no set decorations or props used in plays so playwrights had to work the setting into the lines and stage direction.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Romeo's ability to quickly recall this apothecary in detail indicates that he has been thinking about suicide while being banished. Like This is an effective rhetorical device that shows that audience that Romeo is in the same mental state as Juliet, who has repeatedly threatened to kill herself.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. In astrology, stars were thought to control someone's fate. Here, Romeo curses the stars in order to curse his own destiny and recalls the label "star-crossed lovers" that the Prologue assigned to Romeo and Juliet.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. This vision foreshadows the end of the play when a frantic Juliet searches for poison on Romeo's lips. With this foreshadowing, Romeo invokes the theme of love and death mixing.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff