Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scenes 1 to 6 Summary

Antonia Blankenberg
Note by , created almost 2 years ago

Follow the plot and the storyline of Romeo and Juliet Act 2 with this in-depth study note. You'll find the main story advances for each scene plus interpretation of the events and the key quotes.

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Antonia Blankenberg
Created by Antonia Blankenberg almost 2 years ago
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Page 1

Act 2 - Prologue

The Chorus gives a sonnet describing the new love between Romeo and Juliet. The hatred between the lovers’ families makes it difficult for them to find the time or place to meet and let their passion grow, but the prospect of their love gives each of them the power and determination to elude the obstacles placed in their path.   Analysis: The opening lines of the prologue address the speed with which Romeo and Juliet have fallen in love, while poking fun at the way Romeo has abandoned his pursuit of Rosaline.   This prologue is included to create suspense, rather than further the story.    Important Quotes: "Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie, And young affection gapes to be his heir. That fair for which love groaned for and would die With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair." - Chorus

Page 2

Act 2 - Scene 1

Having left the feast, Romeo decides that he has to find Juliet. He climbs a wall bordering the Capulet property and leaps down into the Capulet orchard.    Mercutio and Benvolio are unaware that Romeo has met and fallen in love with Juliet. Mercutio beckons to Romeo by teasing him about Rosaline. Romeo continues to hide, and Benvolio persuades Mercutio to leave the scene, knowing Romeo's love of solitude.   Analysis: In this scene, Romeo begins a separation that continues throughout the play. His inability to reveal his love of a Capulet causes this isolation. By leaping the wall into the Capulet's property, Romeo physically separates himself from Mercutio and Benvolio, a separation that reflects the distance he feels from society, his friends, and his family.   Important Quotes: "He heareth not, he stirreth not, he moveth not. The ape is dead, and I must conjure him.— I conjure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes, By her high forehead and her scarlet lip, By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh, And the demesnes that there adjacent lie, That in thy likeness thou appear to us." - Mercutio

Page 3

Act 2 - Scene 2

Juliet appears at a window above where Romeo is standing. Romeo compares her to the morning sun. He nearly speaks to her, but thinks better of it. Juliet, unaware that Romeo is in her garden, asks why Romeo must be a Montague, and an enemy to her family. She says that if he would refuse his Montague name, she would give herself to him, or give up her own name for him.   Romeo responds to Juliet, surprising her. She wonders how he found her and he tells her that love led him to her.  Juliet worries that Romeo will be murdered if he is found in the garden, but Romeo refuses to leave, claiming that Juliet’s love would make him immune to his enemies.   The Nurse calls Juliet inside for a moment, when she reappears, she tells Romeo that she will send someone to him the next day to see if his love is honorable and if he intends to wed her. The Nurse calls again, and again Juliet withdraws. She appears at the window once more to set a time for her message to be sent. They profess their love and part ways, Juliet going back to chamber, and Romeo departing in search of someone to aid him in his cause.   Analysis: Act 2 is the happiest and least tragic act in the play. In it, Shakespeare devotes himself to exploring the positive, joyful, and romantic aspects of young love. This scene in articular is known as the "Balcony Scene" and is one of the most famous in drama.    The theme of light and darkness continues in this scene. Romeo describes Juliet in light images. When he first sees Juliet, he says, "she doth teach the torches to burn bright". Romeo often spends time in the dark. In Act 1, Scene 1, he locked himself away in his room and shut the windows to create an "artificial night" while pining for Rosaline. Juliet transports him from the dark into the light. Ironically, however, Romeo and Juliet's clandestine love can only flourish under the shelter of night.   The power of language is important in this scene. Although their surnames are only words, Romeo and Juliet must hold to the social institutions that they represent. Juliet loves Romeo because he is Romeo, but the power of her love cannot remove from him his last name of Montague or all that it stands for. In the privacy of the garden the language of love is triumphant.    The religious imagery in this scene contrasts the language used by Mercutio in the previous scene. His overly sexual and physical view of love is distinctly different to the innocent view that Romeo and Juliet have.   Although Romeo has matured in the brief time since the beginning of the play, he remains somewhat immature when compared with Juliet; a pattern that recurs throughout their relationship. Even though Juliet is only 13, she considers the world with striking maturity. Juliet is weary that Romeo could be caught at her window and is the one who plans the messenger for the following day.   The interruptions from the Nurse add to the atmosphere of intense urgency as the lovers say goodbye. The heightened anticipation of their forthcoming marriage continues to build further tension and increase the pace of the play.   Quotes: "But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, Who is already sick and pale with grief, That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she." - Romeo   "O, speak again, bright angel! For thou art As glorious to this night, being o'er my head, As is a wingèd messenger of heaven Unto the white, upturnèd, wondering eyes Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him When he bestrides the lazy-puffing clouds And sails upon the bosom of the air."  - Romeo   "O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet." - Juliet   "My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep. The more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite." - Juliet   "If that thy bent of love be honorable, Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow By one that I’ll procure to come to thee Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite, And all my fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay And follow thee my lord throughout the world." - Juliet

Page 4

Act 2 - Scene 3

In the early morning, Friar Lawrence enters, holding a basket. He fills the basket with various weeds, herbs, and flowers. While musing on the beneficence of the Earth, he demonstrates a deep knowledge of the properties of the plants he collects.   Romeo enters and tells him of his love for Juliet and asks the Friar to marry them later that day. Friar Lawrence is shocked at this sudden shift from Rosaline to Juliet. He comments on the fickleness of young love, Romeo’s in particular. Romeo defends himself, saying that Juliet returns his love while Rosaline did not.   The Friar agrees to help the couple in the hope that the marriage might ease the discord between the two families.   Analysis: The thematic role of the friar in Romeo and Juliet is hard to pin down. Clearly, Friar Lawrence is a friend to both Romeo and Juliet. He also seems wise and selfless, but while the friar appears to embody all these good qualities that are often associated with religion, he is also an unknowing servant of fate: all of his plans go awry and create the misunderstandings that lead to the final tragedy of the play.   The dual nature within the Friar's plants suggests a coexistence of good and evil. The tension between good and evil is a constant force in this play; a strong undercurrent that conveys fate into the characters' lives. The theme of nature destroying life in order to create life recurs frequently throughout Romeo and Juliet.    Friar Lawrence brings up Romeo's switch from Rosaline to Juliet. He, like the audience, wonders how fast the heart can be changed.    Romeo's relationship with the Friar again highlights the theme of youth versus old age, while underscoring Romeo's isolation from his friends and family. The Friar acts as a father figure to Romeo. The Friar is the only person to whom Romeo can confide the secret of his love for Juliet and his plans to marry.   Important Quotes: "The earth, that’s nature’s mother, is her tomb. What is her burying, grave that is her womb. And from her womb children of divers kind We sucking on her natural bosom find, Many for many virtues excellent, None but for some and yet all different." - Friar Lawrence   "Then plainly know my heart’s dear love is set On the fair daughter of rich Capulet. As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine, And all combined, save what thou must combine By holy marriage. " - Romeo

Page 5

Act 2 - Scene 4

The scene opens with Benvolio and Mercutio wondering where Romeo is after the Capulet feast. Benvolio has learned from a Montague servant that Romeo did not return home and Mercutio spouts some unkind words about Rosaline.    Benvolio has discovered that Tybalt has sent Romeo a challenge to duel, and Mercutio is amused at the thought of an encounter between Romeo and Tybalt, the "Prince of Cats", who is an excellent fighter.   Romeo enters and is mocked for his absence. Mercutio accuses Romeo of abandoning his friends the previous night. Romeo does not deny the charge, but claims his need was great, and so the offense is forgivable. Mercutio and Benvolio think that Romeo was still pining over Rosaline.    The Nurse enters with her servant and Mercutio teases her, insinuating that she is a harlot and infuriating her. Mercutio leaves with Benvolio, and Romeo tells the Nurse that Juliet should meet him at Friar Laurence's cell at 2 o'clock that afternoon to receive confession and be married. The Nurse is to collect a rope ladder from Romeo so that he can climb to Juliet's window to celebrate their wedding night.   Analysis: The Romeo we see in this scene is completely different to the one we see at the beginning of the play. At the beginning of the play, he was melancholy, but now his love for Juliet has given him new energy. Thoughts of his impending marriage have enlivened him to meet all of Mercutio's barbed, verbal challenges with equally gilded retorts. This punning Romeo is what Mercutio believes to be the “true” Romeo, suddenly freed from the ludicrous melancholy of love: “Why, is not this better than groaning for love? / Now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo”.   The news of Tybalt's challenge threatens to bring Romeo into the violence of the family feud. While Romeo is well-liked in the community and has a peaceable reputation, Tybalt is a proud and vengeful foe. The motive for Tybalt's quarrel with Romeo stems from his own masculine aggression rather than a sense of honor, emphasising the trivial nature of the feud.   The repeated references to time in this scene heighten the sense of anticipation coming up to the marriage of Romeo and Juliet.    Important Quotes: "Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? Now art thou sociable. Now art thou Romeo. Now art thou what thou art—by art as well as by nature, for this driveling love is like a great natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole." - Mercutio   "But first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her into a fool’s paradise, as they say, it were a very gross kind of behavior, as they say. For the gentlewoman is young, and therefore, if you should deal double with her, truly it were an ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing." - Nurse

Page 6

Act 2 - Scene 5

Hours after sending the nurse to meet Romeo, Juliet anxiously awaits her return. When she does return, she, knowing of Juliet's eagerness, deliberately teases her by withholding the word of the upcoming wedding. The Nurse claims to be too tired, sore, and out of breath to tell Juliet what has happened.    The nurse finally tells her of the plan and leaves to meet Romeo's servant to collect the rope ladder.    Analysis: The passage of time is emphasised in this scene. When the lovers are together, time passes quickly, similarly to the rapid escalation of their relationship. However, when they are apart, the hours seem much longer, as shown by Juliet's eagerness to hear from the nurse.   Juliet's soliloquy and her subsequent exchanges with the Nurse show her youthful energy and enthusiasm in contrast with the Nurse, who is old, decrepit, and slow.    Though happiness clearly dominates this scenes, some ominous foreshadowing is revealed. The Nurse’s joking game in which she delays telling Juliet the news will be mirrored in a future scene, when the Nurse’s anguish prevents her from relating news to Juliet and thereby causing terrible confusion.   Important Quotes: " Love’s heralds should be thoughts, Which ten times faster glide than the sun’s beams, Driving back shadows over louring hills." - Juliet   "Then hie you hence to Friar Lawrence’s cell. There stays a husband to make you a wife. Now comes the wanton blood up in your cheeks. They’ll be in scarlet straight at any news." - Nurse

Page 7

Act 2 - Scene 6

Romeo and Friar Laurence wait for Juliet, and again the Friar warns Romeo about the hastiness of his decision to marry.    Juliet enters and Romeo asks her to speak poetically of her love. Juliet responds that those who can so easily describe their “worth” are beggars, her love is far too great to be so easily described.   The lovers exit with Friar Lawrence and are wed.   Analysis: The wedding scene is notable for its atmosphere of impending doom. Images of happiness and marriage are repeatedly paired with images of violence and death.    The imagery in the Friar's speech recalls Montague's question in Act I, Scene 1: "Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?". The Friar's words are prophetic because he draws parallels between the destructive passion of Romeo and Juliet and the feud that will cause the violent deaths of Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, Tybalt, and Paris.   Continuing the sense of foreshadowing from the previous scene, the Friar gives a warning to the new couple: "“these violent delights have violent ends” .   Important Quotes: "These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey Is loathsome in his own deliciousness And in the taste confounds the appetite. Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so. Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow." - Friar Lawrence