Free Study Guide: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare - Free BookNotes|
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When Romeo informs Friar Lawrence about his new love for Juliet, the confessor
chides him for his rapid change of heart. There is quiet humor in his
reproofs, however, for the Friar is a kind old man. The Friar agrees to
marry Romeo and Juliet because he hopes that this marriage may bring about
a reconciliation of their families. The Friar advises Romeo to have patience:
“Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.” Unfortunately, Romeo does
not follow the advice of his confessor. In his passion, Romeo has no patience,
which is the tragic flaw that leads to the deaths of the couple.
Juliet selects the Nurse as her messenger to Romeo. Her search for Romeo causes some delay. Meanwhile, Benvolio and Mercutio are up early, looking for Romeo. Benvolio has learned that Romeo was not at home all night and that Tybalt has sent a letter to Romeo challenging him to a duel. He then displays his own interest in dueling by mocking a host of new Italian and French terms, recently introduced in England.
Romeo enters, happy in the anticipation of meeting Juliet’s messenger. Mercutio makes fun of Romeo, supposing that he is still mooning over Rosaline, but Romeo challenges him in a contest of wit with. As they banter, the Nurse arrives. She feels important about her errand, and, attended by the servant Peter, she tries to appear dignified. Mercutio is amused at her seeming self-importance and ridicules her. The Nurse gets into an argument with him. When she inquires where she can find Romeo, he comes forward and introduces himself. She reveals that she has a private message for him. Benvolio and Mercutio leave the scene after teasing the Nurse, who threatens revenge. The Nurse, however, accepts Romeo as a worthy suitor for Juliet.
Romeo informs the Nurse of his meeting with the Friar and tells her that the
priest has asked Juliet to come to him that afternoon for confession,
absolution, and the marriage ceremony. Romeo pays Nurse for her pains
and asks her to arrange for a rope ladder with which he will be able to
climb into Juliet’s room that night. The Nurse agrees to the plan, even
though she compares Paris with Romeo.
This scene takes place at nine o’clock on the same morning that Romeo has visited with the Friar. Benvolio and Mercutio are up early looking for Romeo, for Tybalt has sent a letter to Romeo, challenging him to a duel. Mercutio worries that Romeo’s love-lorn state will make him unfit for fighting an opponent as formidable as Tybalt.
Another dueling of wits marks the scene, written chiefly in prose,: one between Mercutio and Romeo and the other between Mercutio and the Nurse. Romeo’s changed nature keeps him from being the easy victim of Mercutio’s satire this time; instead, he engages in a brilliant play of wit with Mercutio, which the peacemaker Benvolio tries to quiet. Mercutio, on the other hand, is delighted at Romeo’s spirit, an indication that he has finally come out of his lovesick mood. Mercutio also turns his wit on the Nurse. He picks on her absurd pomposity, but the Nurse holds her own with him. As soon as Mercutio leaves, the Nurse resorts to her familiar coarseness, vulgarly criticizing Mercutio. Romeo, in a light mood, teases the Nurse. It is good comedy and an appropriate contrast to the seriousness of the love and impending marriage of Romeo and Juliet.
The Nurse is very amusing in her pompous manner. She is genuinely filled with concern over Romeo’s honorable intentions and Juliet’s welfare. She must judge Romeo as worthy before she consents to deal further with him. Once he is approved by her, Romeo delivers his instructions for the marriage ceremony and with practicality (not previously seen in him) asks the Nurse to arrange for a ladder so that he can climb into Juliet’s room at night.
The chief purpose of the scene is to complete the details necessary for the
marriage and to set a happy mood for the union. It also adds suspense
by mentioning that Tybalt has challenged Romeo to a duel. It then furnishes
comic relief to the seriousness of the preceding and following scenes.
Finally, it develops the characters of Mercutio and Nurse.
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. 09 May 2017