Like Act I, Act II also opens with a Prologue in sonnet form. It restates
what has actually happened in Act I -- that Romeo has replaced a false
love, Rosaline, who does not return his love with a true love, Juliet,
who does love him in return. It also points out that both young people
realize the problems caused by their love since they are from rival families.
It also indicates that the lovers plan to pursue their love in spite of
Quartet I states that Romeo has lost his love-lorn state and replaced it with true love. He has considered Rosaline as beautiful, but after meeting Juliet, his views on Rosaline are changed.
Quartet 2 points out that both Romeo and Juliet have fallen in love at first sight, but they have realized that their love is dangerous.
Quartet 3 says that their families are enemies. Romeo does not have access to Juliet's house to promote his love nor can she arrange to meet him.
The couplet points out that love will find a way for the two lovers to fulfill
their love, in spite of their hardships.
Deserting his friends, Romeo disappears into the darkness. He heads back to
the gardens of the Capulets and climbs over the stone wall in order to
be near his new found love and in hopes of having a glimpse of her. Benvolio
and Mercutio, unaware of what has transpired between Romeo and Juliet,
call out to Romeo and seek to find their friend, who hides from them.
Benvolio, knowing that Romeo likes his solitude, persuades Mercutio to
stop the search, and they leave the stage together.
This scene serves as an interlude between the first and second meetings of Romeo and Juliet and reveals the intensity of Romeo's passion. He is highly excited but troubled after his first meeting with his new love; but he desperately wants to see her again. As a result, he climbs over the garden wall, hides behind a tree, and hopes to see Juliet.
His two friends Mercutio and Benvolio are unaware of Romeo's change of heart. Mercutio thinks that Romeo is still inspired by the thought of Rosaline. He once again ridicules love, attempts to make rhymes, laughs at Rosaline's virtues, and nicknames Cupid as an old man. Benvolio stops him, fearing that he will offend his cousin Romeo, and insists that they go home. Mercutio finally consents to leave, because the night has grown too cold for him.
The pureness and intensity of the love between Romeo and Juliet are intensified
by contrast to Mercutio's ribald taunting about Rosaline. The irony is
that Romeo has forsaken Rosaline for Juliet, and his friends are unaware
of his changed feelings.