Romeo and Juliet | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 3, Scene 5

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides in-depth summary and analysis of Act 3, Scene 5 of William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet | Act 3, Scene 5 | Summary

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Summary

In the morning after their wedding night, Romeo and Juliet want to stay together as long as they can, though daylight is coming quickly. Juliet says, "Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day." She tries to hold off their inevitable separation by insisting they are hearing the nightingale rather than a morning lark. Romeo, whose life is at stake, resists her hopeful interpretation and points out the light coming from the rising sun. Finally, Juliet tells him to leave so that he will be safe. When Romeo climbs out the window, Juliet lists her losses: "love, lord, ay husband, friend!" They say good-bye multiple times before the nurse briefly appears to warn them that Juliet's mother is coming, which prompts Romeo to leave. Lady Capulet chastises Juliet for mourning her cousin Tybalt excessively and instead engages her in talk about what should be done to punish Romeo.

Lady Capulet then tells Juliet that her father has decided she will marry Paris in three days. Juliet says she will not. When her father enters, along with the nurse, Juliet again refuses the marriage. Her father responds by giving her the choice of doing as he says or being disowned. The nurse and Lady Capulet try to intervene, but Lord Capulet calls Juliet a fool, garbage, wretched, and a "whining mammet," or doll. He goes on to tell her that, if she doesn't show up in church, she will never see his face again. "An you be mine," he says. "I'll give you to my friend./An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets." Lady Capulet follows him out, leaving the nurse, who tries to comfort Juliet by praising Paris, who, she argues, "excels" Juliet's first husband, Romeo. Juliet pretends to be persuaded and asks the nurse to tell her mother that she has gone to Friar Lawrence to confess and be absolved. When the nurse is gone, Juliet condemns the nurse as a "wicked fiend" for turning on Romeo and makes clear that "if all else fail, myself have power to die."

Analysis

In their final exchange, Romeo and Juliet admit to premonitions of disaster, foreshadowing the tragedy to come. By the light of day, Romeo looks to Juliet like a corpse; for him, her paleness, which he shares, is because "sorrow drinks our blood."

With her mother, Juliet manipulates language to make sure she expresses her own emotions, while her mother hears what she wants to hear in the conversation. For example, when Juliet says, "Would none but I might venge my cousin's death," she expresses her true hope that no one takes vengeance but allows her mother to believe that Juliet herself wants revenge.

Juliet's effort to resist her father's authority comes at a significant price. The violence of Lord Capulet's language is evidence of how Juliet has denied him the privileges and power of his station. He intends to obliterate her should she defy him. Even Lady Capulet, who tries to calm her husband at first, says to Juliet as she leaves, "Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee."

The nurse's rational approach deeply offends Juliet on a moral level, so once she is alone, she rejects the nurse as decisively as her father rejected her: "Thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain." Juliet connects herself with her family even while losing its support.

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