Romeo and Juliet | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 3, Scene 3

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides in-depth summary and analysis of Act 3, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet | Act 3, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

Romeo goes to Friar Lawrence's cell, where the friar reveals that Romeo has been banished from Verona for killing Tybalt. As Juliet did in the previous scene, Romeo declares that banishment is a fate worse than death and accuses the friar of not understanding his situation or emotions.

The nurse arrives and finds Romeo in the same pathetic condition as Juliet. As the nurse details Juliet's grief, Romeo draws a dagger to kill himself. The friar reprimands him for his lack of control. He talks Romeo into accepting his banishment for now and going to Juliet that night "as was decreed" but then leaving for Mantua in the morning. The friar promises that he will find a way to reunite them and even "beg pardon of the Prince." The nurse gives Romeo Juliet's ring and departs, followed soon after by Romeo.


Analysis

In the previous scene, Juliet viewed Romeo's banishment as a violent act above all else. Here, Romeo responds to the word similarly. He too feels murdered by the idea of banishment, his "head [cut off] with a golden ax." This, then, is a partial answer to the question of whether love and marriage destroy the partners' individuality. For Juliet and Romeo, the answer seems to be yes. Both have embraced the new identity they have created together, as shown by their parallel emotional states. The counsel of Friar Lawrence and the nurse reflect each other as well in this scene, the first in which they appear together. By the end of the scene, Friar Lawrence and the nurse join forces to help the young lovers.

A clash between youth and age plays out between Romeo and both of the older characters. Romeo, representing youth, demands empathy and, lacking experience, has only his feelings to guide and soothe him. Friar Lawrence, representing age, offers Romeo advice, but Romeo rejects the friar's wisdom, saying that wise men "have no eyes." The nurse underlines Romeo's immaturity by telling him to stand up the way one might scold a child.

The friar and the nurse also see eye to eye on the importance of the physical joys of marriage. Friar Lawrence sends Romeo to Juliet "as was decreed," which makes their decisions and marriage legitimate. He specifically adds, "Ascend her chamber," which is to say, go to her bedroom and consummate the marriage. Even though Romeo's banishment remains, he leaves responding to "a joy past joy"—the opportunity to spend the night with Juliet.

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