At the beginning of the scene, Juliet eagerly anticipates for Romeo’s coming, and beckons for nightfall where she will consummate her marriage with Romeo in the night. She is agitated and impatient, and she calls for time to pass quickly so it will be night, “Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds, towards Phoebus’s lodging; such a wagoner as Phaeton would whip you to the wet, and bring in cloudy night immediately.” She wants time to speed quickly as seen from the adjectives she uses to describe swiftness, with the fire and excitement of young love.
She wishes that Romeo would arrive at that very moment with night, and calls for night to come four times, calling the night ‘cloudy’, ‘civil’, ‘full of light (day)’, ‘gentle’ and ‘black-browed’. Night for her is beautiful, one that encompasses many silent mysteries, one that is both serious and mild. Juliet is brimming with eager anticipation for Romeo’s return, and waiting for her seems very long. She longs for her Romeo to ‘leap to these arms’ and states ‘Give me my Romeo’, showing her fervent wish for Romeo to arrive so that ‘love-performing night’ can have its way.
She uses two images to describe how she feels, the first being how she longs to consummate the marriage, “O I have bought the mansion of a love, but not possessed it.” Her gentle sigh of ‘O’ here shows her wistful and hoping heart that Romeo would soon come so that they can be together again. The second example shows her feelings of impatience, such of that like a petulant young child, “So tedious is this day as is the night before some festival to an impatient child that hath new robes and may not wear them.”, describing her wait as ‘tedious’, or almost painful to bear. She misses Romeo so much that her wait may be compared to that of a little child, her feelings are of longing, and of hopeful wishing, and all of her thoughts are of Romeo, and awaiting the time where she can have her ‘new clothes’, or consummate the marriage.
She also feels modest at the thought that she is going to consummate her marriage with Romeo, and she blushes at the thought of it, “Hood my unmanned blood, bating in my cheeks”. However, she truly loves Romeo and such love of hers is innocent and pure, and she loves Romeo with true passion. Her blushing cheeks show her natural modesty or pureness, reminding us of her young age and her innocence in her love. The beautiful images she uses, “For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night, whiter than snow upon a raven’s back”, show her passionate and romantic nature, and the night relates to her in a very different, being the time where Romeo and her can unite again, and she relates to Romeo as ‘day in night’, or the light of her life. From her impatience and eager anticipation, we can also see her passion for Romeo as she longs to see him and consummate their marriage in the covered curtains of night. She is honest and true about her feelings, “Think true love acted simple modesty”, which show her delicate and sensitive nature.
When the nurse arrives, she is overjoyed, and anticipates good news, as seem from the way she declares that “every tongue that speaks but Romeo’s name speaks heavenly eloquence.” She immediately bids the nurse to tell her the news and asks for the cords meant for the night. Here, she is impatient and enthusiastic, expecting good news to return. This shows her optimistic and hopeful nature.
The nurse then confuses her with befuddled information about the death of a person, whom Juliet takes to be Romeo, because of the way the nurse goes into exaggerated mourning, “Ah weraday, he’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead!” Juliet is utterly shocked at this point and seeks to confirm the news, with the urgent question still hanging in the air, “Hath Romeo slain himself?” She is confused, stunned and slightly dazed at this point, which is later shown in her short monologue where she puns excessively on the word ‘I’ and ‘Ay’ and is too caught up with the news to think logically. She seeks to deny the truth at this point but to a point has accepted it already.
As the nurse selfishly goes on to describe the corpse, “A piteous corse, a bloody piteous corse, pale, pale as ashes, all bedaubed in blood”, she is further grief-stricken and believes the fact that Romeo is indeed, dead. She is further traumatized by the ugly description of the body, thinking that it is her lover’s. At this point, she feels distressed and at the point of suicide, for all that she has lived for is gone, or so she thinks. Heart broken, she declares that since the meaning of her life is gone, there is only death for her, ‘O break, my heart, poor bankrupt, break at once! And thou and Romeo press one heavy bier.” She believes that Romeo is truly dead at this point and is willing to die in order to join her lover in death. This shows her sacrificial nature for love, and her burning passion for Romeo, that she asks for death when Romeo, the true meaning of her life, is gone.
Shocking her even further, the nurse lets out the name Tybalt, and Juliet is further led into thinking that both Tybalt and Romeo are dead. She is very confused, and her grief is further heightened, as Tybalt was her cousin. “Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom, for who is living, if those two are gone” she says in despair, and she is in a state of mental shock and mourning, but she is still quite bewildered at the sudden mention of Tybalt, as she thought that Romeo had slain himself or some other thing had happened all along. The sudden mention of Tybalt dead throws her mind into confusion.
When the nurse finally reveals that ‘Tybalt is gone, and Romeo banished. Romeo that killed him,he is banished”, that Tybalt had been killed by Romeo and Romeo was now banished because of his act, Juliet is filled with sorrow and shock, and she exclaims, “O God, did Romeo’s hand shed Tybalt’s blood?”, meaning that she is still unable to accept the fact that her lover had indeed slain her beloved cousin. When the tidings reached her, she at first gave way to rage against Romeo, who had slain her dear cousin: she called him a beautiful tyrant, a fiend angelical, a ravenous dove, a lamb with a wolf’s nature, a serpent-heart hid with a flowering face, and other like contradictory names, which denoted the struggles in her mind between her love and her resentment. She mourns at her choice of Romeo and she is angry at Romeo for committing such a hideous act.
However, the moment the Nurse chides Romeo and curses him, “Shame come to Romeo”, thinking that Juliet also felt that way after her speech, Juliet immediately goes into sharp defence of her husband. She scolds the Nurse for cursing Romeo, “Blistered be thy tongue for such a wish” and chides herself for using such harsh words to describe Romeo earlier, “O what a beast was I to chide at him!” She feels that she was wrong to think that way of Romeo and she immediately feels guilty and sorry that she had scolded Romeo in such a way and not considered his position,
“Ah poor my lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name, when I thy three-hours wife have mangled it?” She immediately stands on the side of Romeo and praises him, calling him the ‘sole monarch of the universal earth where ‘upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit, for tis a throne where honour may be crowned.” Juliet’s anger at the Nurse’s criticism of Romeo shows her loyalty to Romeo and she quickly recovers from her initial reaction to Tybalt’s death. From here we see how sincerely in love she is with Romeo and how devoted she is to him, standing by his side even when he has killed her cousin and though she does not know the true situation and story, she was willing to give her husband the benefit of the doubt. The moment the Nurse insulted Romeo, she stood up in defence, and this shows us how much she is really in love with Romeo to trust him so much. We see here that she is a faithful lover, very loyal, and she sticks to her lover even when he is facing many obstacles and accusations. By giving Romeo the benefit of the doubt, she displays her trusting nature for what she saw in Romeo.
In the end, love got the mastery, and the tears which she shed for grief that Romeo had slain her cousin, turned to drops of joy that her husband lived whom Tybalt would have slain, “But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin? That villain cousin would have killed my husband”. This shows her highly perceptive nature as she understands that if Romeo had not slain Tybalt, the hot-headed Tybalt would have slain her husband. Here, she is slightly comforted by the thought that Romeo slain Tybalt out of necessity and the fact that he was still living should bring joy, “Your tributary drops belong to woe, which you, mistaking, offer up to joy.” She is happy at the thought that her lover is still living.
Then came fresh tears, and they were altogether of grief for Romeo’s banishment. To her, that word was more terrible to her than the death of many Tybalts, “That banished, that one word banished hath slain ten thousand Tybalts”. She is distressed by the declaration of banishment and upset that she has to be separated from Romeo. She feels that this pain is so much that it can equal that of the pain of her whole family falling into the clutches of death, “Romeo is banished – to speak that word is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet, all slain, all dead”. She is filled with mental anguish, and from her we see her genuine want to be with Romeo and her desperate love for Romeo that overrides other things.
In desperation, she decided that death is the only solution to all their troubles and says that “death will take her maidenhead”. At this point she is on the point of hopelessness and anguish, and she feels that there is no way out for her. She feels that she has been cheated by fate of her love, and feels sorry for her own predicament. We see the impulsive side of Juliet in this. The nurse tells her that she will find Romeo to come to her and comfort her, and at this point it gives Juliet a bit of hope of meeting her lover. At the last point, she told the nurse to “give this ring to my true knight, and bid him come to take his last farewell.” We see her thoughtful and perceptive nature, as she chooses to give Romeo the ring to show Romeo that she is on his side and reassure Romeo that all is well. We can see her complete devotion and loyalty to Romeo and deep love for Romeo to still stay by his side despite the snowballing of ghastly events.
? What are your impressions of the Nurse here? Does she seem to be a good confidante to Juliet?
The Nurse comes off as insensitive and inconsiderate here. From the moment she comes in to deliver the news, she does not make the information clear to Juliet, only declaring mournfully “Ah weraday, he’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead!” and mentions Romeo in her speeches without stating clearly that Tybalt was the one killed. She takes a long time to reveal the truth to Juliet, causing her a lot of unnecessary grief and shock that would have otherwise been lessened if the correct news had been revealed earlier. Although she knows that Juliet is confused and is in sadness, to the point that Juliet says that she is heart broken, “O break my heart, poor bankrupt, break at once!”, she still does not make any point to clear up the misunderstandings and only reveals the truth when Juliet pursues it further. She does not take into consideration Juliet’s feelings and dragged her mourning, without caring for the feelings of Juliet. If she had been sensitive and considerate, she would have broken the news to Juliet gently, and not in such a haphazard manner.
The nurse also strikes me as artificial and exaggerated. Her mourning is all done in a repetitive and mournful tone, “Alack the day, he’s gone, he’s killed, he’s dead” and “These griefs, these woes, these sorrows make me old”. Much of these words are exaggerated and not necessary, they all express the same meaning, and the nurse seems to be enjoying blowing up the whole tragedy and harping on her sadness and pity. She is long winded as well, and she continually mourns of Tybalt, which is of doubt whether she had such a close relationship with him to cry so much. We get the feeling that the nurse deliberately dramatizes everything.
The nurse also does not understand Juliet well. She presumes that Juliet ought to hate Romeo because Romeo has killed her cousin, but she cannot fathom Juliet’s deep love for Romeo because of her simple mind. She curses Romeo, “Shame come to Romeo!” thinking that Juliet would feel the same way, and is actually surprised when Juliet stands on Romeo’s side, “Will you speak well of him that killed your cousin?” Despite being Juliet’s confidante, being the closest one to her ever since she was young, and helping the relationship with Romeo to advance by being a messenger, she has a weak understanding of the true character Juliet and has the presumption that Juliet will think in the same wavelength, have the same ‘wisdom’ that she does. However, she is wrong in that aspect.
It would come to me on the whole that the Nurse is not a good confidante. She offers no advice to Juliet at this crucial moment where Juliet is despaired and in a state of shock, and instead prolongs her agony by dragging on a long and confusing speech and ignoring Juliet’s suffering. Without an inkling of what to do, she decided to approach Friar Lawrence. We can say that she at least helped in that area, which is, she urged Juliet not to resort to suicide and thus saved her life. Other then that, the Nurse does not present herself to be a good confidante.
2) Read carefully Act 3 Scene 3
? Trace Romeo’s feelings throughout the scene. What characteristics of Romeo are evident here?
At the beginning of the scene, Romeo is already despondent and dejected, very pessimistic, and ready for a worst fate. He has already prepared himself that the Prince’s judgement will be ‘doom’ and bring about ‘sorrow’ for him. Here, he is upset and does not bear any hope that the Prince will be kind to him.
When the Friar gently tells him that the Prince has ordered banishment for Romeo, Romeo is cynical and he feels very pessimistic about his fate, which he feels is even worse then the granting of death, “For exile hath more terror in his look, much more than death.” To him it appeared there was no world out of Verona’s walls, no living out of the sight of Juliet. Heaven was there where Juliet lived, and all beyond was ‘purgatory, torture, hell.’ He was upset with the news and felt that banishment had the same meaning of death for him, for both meant not being able to see Juliet, “They cutest my head off with a golden axe, and smilest upon the stroke that murders thee.” For him, Juliet was his life, and he felt that he could not live without her. He refuses to accept the initial advice of the Friar and even mocks him later.
After the Friar refers to Romeo’s banishment as ‘mercy’, Romeo starts pouring out all his despair into words, complaining on how even the animals and the flies had a chance to see Juliet but not him, “Live here in heaven and may look at her, but Romeo may not.” He feels that all this is unfair for him and he reacts like a petulant child who cannot have what he wants. He is stubborn, and is in a hysterical state over not being able to see Juliet, claiming that ‘exile was death’. We can see from this a certain immature side of Romeo who demands to get what he wants and does not take a perceptive side of things, unlike Juliet. For him, not being able to see Juliet means the end of the world and nothing can change that fact for him.
Later in the speech, he seriously contemplates suicide. He feels desperate and lost at this point and wants to use poison or a knife to kill himself, because, to him, ‘banished’ is already a word ready to kill him. He blocks out all the words of the Friar and philosophy and is rude to him, because he feels that the whole world is already against him and philosophy will not bring him back to Juliet, and turn the Prince’s judging, “Unless philosophy can make a Juliet, displant a town, reverse a prince’s doom, it helps not, it prevails not.”” We see here once again Romeo’s impulsive nature, and how he resorts to suicide the moment he thinks that there is no way out of a problem for him. He is rash and quick in his decision making and he does not think further about the situation. All he sees is that he is being separated from Juliet and this equals death for him.
As the Friar continues chiding him, Romeo reveals why he does not think the Friar is worthy to give advice. He tells the Friar that “thou canst not speak of that thou dost not feel”, meaning that he feels that the Friar is only able to think so logically because he is not experiencing all the sorrow that Romeo is going through and cannot understand the pain Romeo is facing at the possibility of separation from Juliet. Romeo feels that he has gone through so much more painful circumstances than the Friar, all in a very short period, and he has had so much torn from him, till he is filled with despair, and prepared to ‘take the measure of an unmade grave.’ Romeo justifies all his moaning and complaining as natural, if the Friar himself had only experienced it on his own. This once again displays his self-pitying nature we saw earlier in the scene with Rosaline how he can get very emotional when it comes to matters of the heart. He also tears his hair like a madman, and rattles off incessantly on how he cannot have Juliet. We see here his lack of self control at handling problems.
When the nurse arrives, Romeo is reminded once again of Juliet and is hurt deeply by all the pain that Juliet is going through because of him, and he feels that he has let Juliet down. He draws a dagger and tries to stab himself, “Tell me, that I may sack the hateful mansion”, he feels utterly disgraced at this point and feels that he ought to die for making Juliet suffer. We see here that he has lost self control, and he is almost hysterical at this point.
After the Friar’s speech, Romeo has visibly calmed down because of the set of plans the Friar has laid down for him. He accepts the Friar’s advice and is momentarily glad because he can now meet Juliet again and is reassured by the ring, which symbolizes that Juliet still stands on his side, “How well my comfort is revived in this.” He is eager once more to meet Juliet, and leaves in haste. Here again we see his impetuous nature, rushing to meet Juliet when he finds out that he has a chance to meet her.
? What are your impressions of the Friar here? How does he attempt to comfort Romeo?
I find the Friar a wise and perceptive man. He is able to think logically despite Romeo losing self control and going hysterical and all the otherwise complex problems which lay before him and come up with an organized plan to solve the problem. By calming Romeo down and giving him a detailed plan on what Romeo could do to meet up with Juliet again and deal with banishment, he succeeds in renewing Romeo’s hope by giving him an immediate plan of action and promising future happiness. Even the nurse herself commented that she could have “stayed here all the night to hear good counsel.” He also warns Romeo to leave early lest he be found out, “Either be gone before the watch be set, or by the break of day disguised from hence”, telling Romeo to leave early the next day. He must be very organized to be able to remember even all these small details and he cared about Romeo to warn him about them.
The Friar is also a sensitive and gentle man. He breaks the news gently to Romeo, tries his best at making the news uplifting, and constantly tells Romeo to count his blessings. When he first appears in the scene, he speaks to Romeo with soft and gentle words, “Romeo, come forth, come forth thy fearful man.” He beckons Romeo to come gently and then delivers the news as if it is glad ‘tidings’, and reminds Romeo that it is not death that awaits him, but merely banishment. He tries his best to make banishment sound as light as possible. He reminds Romeo that he has three reasons why he should count his blessings, the first being the fact that Juliet is alive, and he fact that he was alive, and the pardoning of his life by the Prince. All these things were to be rejoiced for. When Romeo brushed all these aside, he chided him gently, “O deadly sin! O rude unthankfulness! And turned that black word death to banishment, this is dear mercy, and thou seest it not”, telling him to be thankful for the Prince’s mercy and constantly reminding Romeo that if not for this pardon, Romeo would have been dead by then. He chides Romeo for his lack of appreciation and tells him to appreciate what he has now, and accept philosophy into his ears.
The Friar is also an encouraging and sincere man. He chides Romeo gently, “Hold thy desperate hand, art thou a man?”, for his womanish behaviour, crying and bawling like a petulant young child and not facing up to who he was and acting like a man. He advised Romeo to face the situation like a man and remember his responsibilities, “Will thou slay thyself, and slay thy lady that in thy life lives, by doing damned hate upon thyself?”, helping Romeo to see things in perspective and to appreciate what he had at present. He also tells Romeo to put his qualities to good use and not abuse them, “Which like a usurer abound’st in all, and usest none in that true use indeed”, telling him not to destroy his capabilities with ignorance. The Friar gives Romeo hope and courage when he needs it.
The Friar is a good confidante. He comforts, advises, philosophises and chides. He tries his best to meet the needs of Romeo in every way possible, and gives Romeo reasonable and practical advice. He understands what Romeo needs and sets to help him out and offer advice when it is needed. When Romeo was at a lost of what to do, he came up with a detailed plan for Romeo to follow. As a friend and advisor, he plays his part well.